R.I.P Simon Foster (1945 to 2013): Barbadian Fashion Icon – Tributes Via Rosemary Parkinson & Patrick Foster
Guyanese born Simon Foster left the glory of the fashion industry of London to settle in Barbados. It was difficult at first, the conservative mood rampant, but Simon struggled on slowly taking the island by storm with his innovative designs, his colour, his artistry.
In earlier times I managed to put together the first Simon Boutique within the hallowed halls of Cave Shepherd on Broad St. so he could showcase his art…his designs were so avant-garde, so way-out of the box they could not go unnoticed and a whole new era began in Barbados…his pieces sold…oh! how they sold. And I was thrilled for him. Proud even. In those days I was younger (and thinner) and Simon draped his cloth all over me so I could walk with the quick step of someone who felt special. I modeled for him. We entered a room as one. “Roses…you look divine, shall we get married?” he would say, and we would screech with joy at the thought of the madness of it. My first two children, Marie-France and Sian Pampellonne, became ‘his‘ in those days of the late 70s…even baby-sitting them on occasion when four nights out in a row at the famous nightclub ‘Alexandra’s‘ (from which we were banned many times, only to wear wigs entering ’till discovered!) had been “just all too much” for him and a quiet one was required…yeah right! Simon fell for it every time…for those nights turned into theatre…my girls dressed him, made him up, had him modeling and all…and I would come home to bare ‘confusion’, Simon loving every minute of the attention.
I sit here remembering, jumping from one memory to another. This friend of mine who for more years than I can count had always made me laugh out loud ’till tears ran down my face. Oh! Simon! We have danced, we have pranced and we have been called “brothers“…maybe even sometimes “sisters“…we have bitched, we knew each others’ secrets and pain…sometimes months would pass without contact but we always were with each other in spirit. I knew this.
Simon died doing what he did every day…after closing his little shop, he was walking towards his home…I bet as he did so, the voices of those accustomed to seeing him reverberated in his ears: “Simon!”, “Ya gine home Simon?” “Done wid de wuk today Simon?” “See ya tomorrow, Simon”…”you alright Simon?” for that is how Simon walked through his time on this earth, with people calling out his name wherever he went from one side of the island to the next.
Our friend is now at peace and he has his work cut out…redesigning the interiors and exteriors of wherever beautiful creative people go having left this mortal coil, dressing them in ‘bright and stunning‘ fashion to suit. He has left behind his brother, my dear dear friend, actor and artist Patrick Michael Foster. He has left behind his and my dear, dear friend, artist, photographer Corrie Scott. He will always be treasured by his sister Paula, so many memories eh? His brother Jonathan, and other sister Suzie will miss him but most importantly, there is his awesome mother whose flair was larger than the Universe for it was from this stunning strong woman that all her children garnered so much creativity and love of life. May they all find comfort in knowing…just knowing.
But in thinking or talking or writing of Simon one has to lay so much of his success on the feet of Joyce…I only ever knew her as Joyce…she was his right and left hand…quietly putting together whatever ‘bit of crazy‘ Simon put before her…without ever making a fuss…her hands just gently leading that cloth through spinning needle. I often wondered how Joyce viewed her surroundings – the clutter of paint, threads, sewing machines, patterns, paper…the noise of friends and patrons…Simon’s bursts of hilarious comments…his inability to suffer fools gladly sometimes, his wit bordering, just bordering…she probably knew Simon more than any of us…she certainly spent more time with him than any one of us…dear, dear Joyce. And through it all, through thick and thin, Simon was a parent, a guardian to Peter, always giving him kudos when kudos were due and even when not, ever teaching him the craft Simon saw in him from young, pushing him to better himself, to feel at ease with life, to seek his own creativity, to do good with himself and for himself……may Peter’s today and all his tomorrows from hereon in do Simon’s unconditional caring for him, justice.
I do not want to mourn for all who stood forever beside Simon. I do not want to mourn for me. I want to celebrate his life but right now it is difficult. I certainly mourn for Barbados… this island has lost yet another son of its creative soul far too early for comfort. He loved this island far more than many believed…and took the name Barbados across the seas with his work. I can only now say this:
“Many people will walk in and out of your life but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Your footprint Simon Foster is indelibly written across mine.
This was one of his closest friends, Rosemary Parkinson – Author, Photographer, Culinary Activist, Blogger and proud Mother among a myriad of other fantastic achievements.
Let’s hear from Simon’s own brother – Advertising Guru, Dramatist, Actor, Painter and worshipper of the Caribbean’s Mythology; Patrick Michael Foster…
My dearest Brother,
Our path was a stormy one, though never void of the deepest love and respect for each other. Our creative passions, I’m certain, had so much to do with that – and why not? Such is the legacy which drove our inner fraternal pride in each other, in our never conventional family and our very beautiful parents who birthed the handful of us. I can hear your laughter of approval and I share it with you. I look back, in the Now, to our closest times of brotherhood, growing, development – so many little eternities which right now tear my soul with missing you. I give thanks to Universal OneLove for the last month in which we mended many bridges of love and communication; laughed, discussed, agreed and hugged each other without restraint … unwittingly in preparation for last night. I deeply thank the friend who called last evening, allowing me to be there, to see your always elegant profile, head back, as though you were gazing only at the stars as you ascended.
Je t’aime, mon frère. Live on.