Placing Trinidad and Tobago’s Magnificence on the Map


Janelle Penney Commissioning. Picture by Suresh Cholai

Historic occasions of 60 years of independence embody three victories in main magnificence pageants. To at the present time, many individuals do not forget that Janelle “Penny” Fee gained the Miss Universe pageant in 1977 and Giselle Laronde-West gained the Miss World title in 1986. Wendy Fitzwilliam later additionally gained the 1998 Miss Universe pageant.

Laronde-West and Commissiong sat down with Newsday to speak about how they really feel about having the ability to contribute to the nation on this means.

Gisele Laronde-West

As Laronde-West mentioned she celebrates her sixtieth birthday in October, the sensation of sharing it together with her nation is immeasurable. He felt “completely proud” to have the ability to do one thing for his nation and now the nation will get to have fun 60 years of independence.

Former Miss World Giselle Laronde-West. Photographs by Ayana Kinsale

She recalled her beginnings in modeling saying that it began on the age of 20 and joined Jackie Home, San Fernando.

“I grew up form of naive, but in addition very flirtatious, very into faculty and sports activities. So once I was requested if I’d be concerned with modeling, I mentioned, ‘Okay, let’s examine What’s in it. I do not know if I can do effectively in it or not.’ Nevertheless it seems I wasn’t dangerous sufficient.”

Laronde-West mentioned that she did not participate in all of the reveals as she was chosen for a number of reveals, however on them, she soaked up each second of it and laughed as she realized what it was wish to be on stage.

He mentioned, “I actually loved going on the market and exhibiting me what I needed to do, the garments I am carrying, and getting the reactions. So I loved it.”

She mentioned that she isn’t shy when she is on stage, although off stage is a unique story.

Whereas at Jackie’s home, Laronde-West was working on the TECU credit score union to economize to go to UWI, however with the encouragement of a former Miss TT, Brenda Pleasure Fahey, and her brothers, she auditioned for the competition. .

“They mentioned you by no means know the place it’ll take you, you may construct relationships, you can get alternatives and possibly even get some cash that can assist you.”

Together with her mother and father’ permission, she was on her means. She remembered that on the final day of the audition, Fahi was working to get her a gown, footwear and a swimsuit.

“I did that, after which I used to be chosen one in every of 12 to be Miss TT. On the time they had been three ladies for the crown, one for Miss World, one for Miss Universe and one for Caravelle.

“It actually opened my eyes to numerous TTs, it made me perceive just a little extra concerning the nation. They took us to many locations in TT that I had by no means been to earlier than.

“As a result of they did not know which ladies could be chosen for which competitors, they’d tell us all the things. We used to go to the youngsters’ home; we’d do numerous charity work alongside the way in which whereas we had been coaching. “

So Laronde-West encourages each younger lady who will get such an opportunity to seize it, as a result of it might be life-changing, because it was for her.

“It is not simply magnificence that folks go astray about: They at all times suppose it is only a magnificence pageant and it is simply exhibiting off your physique. It is part of it, however no matter they Remembers she has all the opposite nice components that come out of it. A younger lady who will get numerous expertise in numerous methods. Assembly folks from completely different walks of life, seeing what the nation actually holds, the entire ‘magnificence’. Figuring out with a ‘function’ ingredient – particularly Miss World.”

After coaching, she was chosen to signify TT on the Miss World pageant, which she described as “mind-blowing”. She mentioned that as a result of she was chosen, she needed to journey to the UK for the primary time.

“That is one other ingredient that folks overlook after they cry out for competitors. This younger lady, who might not have traveled a lot, has by no means left the nation, or maybe did a couple of times, is now going to a faraway land and I’ve had the chance to satisfy round 100 ladies, or at occasions, from all completely different components of the world, and yet one more probability to open my thoughts, eyes and instinct.”

Laronde-West mentioned she met many individuals who got here from completely different environments, had completely different experiences, and had been going through reverse challenges.

“There was all the things, from very wealthy ladies to poor ladies and could not even scrape a suitcase collectively – and I used to be near that aspect. As a result of it was a problem for me, coming from a small place in Marabella, probably not coming from a rich household, and I used to be not given garments, jewellery, footwear and luggage with it. Many occasions I needed to go and ask the designers to assist me get it or if they might give me that, or if I may borrow it, and even to pay for it.

“You then see some ladies with seven suitcases, which was no large deal to them. So it was actually eye-opening.”

After experiencing all this and extra, Laronde-West acknowledged that she was going to the Royal Albert Corridor in London on November 13, 1986, with no intention of profitable the competitors.

“I by no means know how one can describe it. It is virtually like going to heaven or experiencing a dream come true. The very first thing I believed was, ‘What are my mother and father considering? TT Kya considering What’s taking place?'”

She mentioned that her victory was bleak, as she was nonetheless in shock, however she nonetheless wanted to stroll to victory. After profitable, she met many influential folks comparable to a Spanish prince, earlier than returning to TT; Stefan Johansson, Swedish System One race automotive driver; and the favored English singer Sir Cliff Richard.

Returning residence in December of that 12 months, she mentioned that she was obtained by hundreds at Piarco airport as quickly as she landed. Laronde-West mentioned that even at the moment, she is at all times approached every time she decides to go to a rum store or choose up one thing on the grocery.

“Folks at all times come as much as me and say, ‘Wow, thanks for doing this for us.’

“I respect it as a result of I feel it means one thing to folks, and as soon as I am acknowledged as a lady to folks, I am blissful.”

Laronde-West has now labored at Caribbean Airways Restricted as an Government Supervisor in Buyer Expertise for greater than three years.

Previous to this, she held public relations positions at corporations comparable to Scotiabank, Hilton Worldwide and Angostura.

Janelle “Penny” Fee

Janelle “Penny” Fee gained the Miss Universe pageant within the Dominican Republic on July 16, 1977 at 24.

Though she is grateful for the expertise and the title, she mentioned on the finish of the day, she is simply Penny.

“You reside with individuals who acknowledge you, and typically you do not need that, nevertheless it’s a psychological factor that you need to develop.

“I’ve to say I am very grateful. I imply, I used to be in Port of Spain and the fellows on the aspect referred to as out, ‘Hey, Penny!’ I am grateful that the group as an entire – would not miss me, however understands the significance and significance of it (her Miss Universe profitable).

Commissionag mentioned she wasn’t concerned with turning into a mannequin, however used the publicity to let folks know who she was and assist her when she was prepared to start out a enterprise in merchandising.

She mentioned she labored purchasing for a division retailer in New York earlier than deciding to start out her personal enterprise at TT.

“So I entered on the native degree and I gained. Then I needed to signify the nation for Miss Universe.

“It was just a little completely different for me, as a result of it isn’t like I had my eye on being a magnificence queen or a mannequin, nothing. So then I went to the Dominican Republic and it was a totally and fully new expertise.

Picture by Suresh Cholai

The fee mentioned that the concept of ​​a magnificence queen on the time was a Caucasian lady who was 5 foot eight and truthful.

“What’s vital is that – 45 years later, folks take issues calmly at the moment, as a result of even within the Dominican Republic 45 years in the past, folks of coloration had been not often seen.”

Watching it play, she mentioned that the competitors had numerous protection from European journalists, and on daily basis there have been images of the entrants on the duvet, however not often an individual of coloration was seen.

“Now, every time I am interviewed, I thank Miss Bermuda, as a result of she had the braveness to start out speaking about it, and when she did, you began seeing us on the entrance pages or within the newspapers, interval. “

She was chosen as one in every of 12 contestants to compete to be topped Miss Universe, and the fee mentioned there have been indications that she would emerge victorious.

“There is a level within the present the place all of the contestants are carrying the identical outfit, singing a selected track, and everybody allegedly participates—till you are chosen as one in every of 12. Me. Do not know why, however I did not take my gown to the auditorium that evening, I left it in my room.

“Once I was referred to as as one of many 12 ladies, I used to be wonderful. Then I used to be referred to as as one of many (finalists) 5 contestants, and that is when my ft began getting chilly.

“Then they began counting, and I mentioned I might accept three, as a result of we have by no means gotten that far—however by the point they referred to as three, and at that time, I do not know, I acquired grasping.”

The fee thanked the judges, saying they had been but to see that form of line-up, as judges different from a clothier to a Hollywood filmmaker.

“I feel that helps when it comes to equity.”

She mentioned that after profitable she labored with Miss Universe for a 12 months.

“I used to be actually busy, and I used to be prepared to depart it by the tip of the 12 months. I used to be busy and drained due to the entire journey.

“In fact, it is one thing that stays with you, I imply how can it not? Not a lot profitable is actual, however what does profitable present you about life and the world.”

The fee mentioned that she is experiencing solely retired life nowadays. Her husband, Alvin Chow, a former media supervisor and businessman, handed away final December.

“It is going to take a while to get used to it and that was a vital a part of my life.”

Supply hyperlink