Recently named among the chicest women in fashion in 2015 by Style.com, Shala Monroque is the embodiment of perfection here at ’N A Perfect World…. Style, class, and culture with a tongue in cheek sense of humour. For some time, this art and fashion world fixture, GARAGE magazine creative director and Miuccia Prada’s muse seemed to be always on the go and simultaneous in cultural capitals around the world. After having the privilege of spending time with her during last September’s New York and Milan fashion weeks, I saw it was that the time off the red carpet and away from the street style photographers that captured the majesty that is Shala. There’s a serenity, an openness, a spontaneity — in the middle of Milan fashion week, she and her friend, Michele Elie went for lunch and to check out glass-making in Venice and Murano!
Having recently moved back to her hometown of St. Lucia, West Indies, Shala’s instagram feed has been filled with envy-inducing #ShalasStLucia. I caught up with her about her time in St. Lucia and no surprise: that serenity, the openness, it seems to be a St. Lucian thing!
’N: Where are you from? / Where did you grow up?
Shala: I was born and raised in St.Lucia, West-Indies.
’N: Where do you live now?
Shala: I live in St.Lucia.
’N: What is your favorite part about life in St. Lucia?
Shala: “The land, the people, the light” it’s actually the national motto but it’s also what I love best. The land is so beautiful, really magnificent, you get to understand why it’s called ‘The Helen of the West-Indies’. The people, I love!!! St. Lucians are so upfront and have a special way with language and words. There’s a sweetness and frankness to the people, everyone is referred to as “My Girl” or “My Boy.” It’s very endearing. It’s not even farfetched that a stranger would call you “Coco,” as in “Don’t do that uh Coco” a really sweet way of communicating something negative. And the light, sometimes I drive around in my car in utter wonder at the light. Because it’s so mountainous and green, the orange sunsets casts magical glows over the landscapes and you just have to stop. It can be literally arresting.
’N: For first time visitors to the country what are three places / areas they must visit?
Shala: Sapphire Falls in Soufriere. It’s not as crowded as the Sulpher Springs, so it’s the perfect place to go for a mud bath.
There’s a street party in Gros-Iset every Friday. Music, fish and dancing in the street is pretty much what it’s about.
One of my favorite places is Paul’s Coal Pot. It’s not popular at all but it’s quite Edenic in my opinion. Paul takes reservations in advance only and prepares a rasta meal from his organic farm at the base of the Piton in Choiseul. The most ideal way to get there is by boat from Soufriere and I’d recommend spending a lazy day at the beach. It’s pretty much untouched, just Paul’s farm and a few fishermen. Not much bells and whistles but if you’re looking for a day away from it all, it’s exactly where I’d go.
’N: St. Lucia packing tips: What are 5 must-haves for packing for a week in St. Lucia?
Shala: Sunglasses. I always wear jellys or jarrys as we call them here as I get around quite a bit and like to be prepared for adventures; they’re easy for swimming and trekking through rivers and mud. Shorts. Beach carry-all. Camera (Shala uses an amazing Leica M9 for her stunning photos).
Shala’s jarrys have had a few instagram moments.
’N: Tell us about the cuisine. What’s a dish that I have to try in St. Lucia?
Shala: My favorite Lucian dish is breadfruit and salt fish served with a few slices of avocado.
’N: Tell me about Kids 4 Coral. What is it’s mission?
Shala: The main goal of Kids 4 Coral is to instill environmental awareness in children through teaching them to snorkel and learning about marine life.
’N: Over the past few years, you’ve made no secret of your love of St. Lucia. Now that you’re back there are you experiencing a creative rebirth or re-energizing? Will we see this in any upcoming projects from you?
Shala: I find it very energizing for sure. I’m calling it my fallow period. Let’s see what happens next.
’N: Lastly, anything you want my readers to know about island life?
Shala: I’m rediscovering island life. I have the good fortune of not being on a schedule so I bounce all around the island. On the one hand, I see it developing like any metropolitan city with billboards popping up and people working long hours in corporate jobs. Then there’s the people who live simpler lives, the farmers, the fishermen the ones who are close to the land and nature. Spending more time with these people I’ve come to appreciate how knowledgeable they are about the land, about herbal medicines, about the ocean and I don’t think enough credit is given to them.
Be sure to follow Shala on instagram for more #ShalasStLucia @shalamonroque and her blog, Shala’s Rabbit Hole.