Fashion

Stepping onto a flight... It was like freedom; strange but true. Mingling in a fete felt surreal! Well, my fete ensembles were on point, for each fete theme!

Indeed, fashion designer and entertainment aficionado, Rhian Ramkissoon explains, his recent trip to carnival celebrations in different parts of the US with nostalgic fervour.

“You wore a toga to the Private Ryan fete?” I ask him as he reminisces on his escapades (all Covid-19 protocols and precautions observed before, during and after).

“The theme was Olympus and my Grecian styled, draped and pinned fabric came together well for a slightly unconventional toga,” Ramkisson, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s unique designers of men’s casual clothing, tells me.

Admittedly, the toga was a stunner; Ramkisson has an eye for out-of-the-box styles that win the hearts of both local and international patrons. His pivotal company, Honamic Designs was established in December 2008, with just one employee. The company started as a retail store trading in male and female clothing and accessories. Between 2012 and 2013, the company officially began producing its own line of clothing and officially transformed into a designer company in November, 2013 with the debut of its first full collection. Since then, Honamic Designs has continued to grow from strength to strength, gaining popularity for its exclusivity, as items are not mass produced.

Exclusivity… Like the funky shorts Ramkisson and his friends wore to another fete in New York this year. They stole the spotlight. But then again the St Mary’s College old boy, is accustomed to the spotlight (he is also a member of a feting group called cooler guard).

Lights, camera, action… Presenting casual, colourful yet couture clothing with a Caribbean touch... Fitting just right, not too tight just enough room to wine, dine or just hang out... All designs courtesy Honamic.

“In 2021, we released our Men’s 2021 Collection of Shorts entitled I AM. This collection was well received with seven of the 11 sections being sold out in a matter of days. Honamic Designs is known for not being afraid of colour and print. For past T&T Carnivals we had dabbled in Women’s Monday Wear (swimwear) but we focused on Monday’s Wear for men, which continued as an extension of men’s funky shorts,” describes the owner of a private concierge service.

Boy next door persona

Funky shorts... I remember them well in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdown. People were home, no Carnival, not much entertainment and then, boom! Men with chiseled abs and charismatic smiles pop up on Instagram wearing daring Honamic Designs patterned shorts by a poolside.

“Your lines are always very catchy. You capture the Caribbean male aesthetic superbly,” I compliment Ramkisson who goes by the Instagram alias detriniwinerboy.

His journey from business development underwriter with Beacon Insurance for 18 years to big designer is an interesting one. Emerging from the active suburb of St James and nurturing grounds of Newtown Boys’ School, St Mary’s College, Diego Martin Finishing School, Woodbrook Secondary and ROYTEC, the University of New Brunswick graduate with a Bachelors in Business Administration, found his passion and purpose in producing some of the trendiest clothing lines for an international audience. So fitting is his easy-going boy-next-door personality to his cool charming clothing which is making waves even in a pandemic. Just before the pandemic his colourful shirts made their mark and he wasn’t shy to model them in his daily walks of life. That’s the thing about Ramkisson; the euphoric allure of his presence (from fete to family gathering) extends to his designs and give patrons the perfect backdrop for a funky shorts and a swimsuit. Which brings me back to his US trip which is still in full effect.

“How did it feel travelling and attending events after such a long Covid lockdown?” I ask him.

Detriniwinerboy responds with a smile- “Being a person that travels a few times during an annual period, being ‘stuck’ in Trinidad was a bit rough... The moment I was able to book a flight and drive to Piarco and check in and go to Duty Free and through security and then sit at the gate waiting for that boarding call...Yes! Then the ability to touch, embrace, kiss and lime and hug up and jump around and wine on friends and family in a social setting with loud music and DJs and performers... It was euphoric and emotional! A very freeing experience!”

And his best fete thus far? I should have guessed- Private Ryan Olympus of course. I wonder if Ramkisson with his Honamic toga got the prize of best dressed? Perhaps he did.

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