After last week Saturday’s controversial fashion show where runway models in bikinis turned the sanctity of the Anglican Cathedral in Port-of-Spain into a catwalk, like a breath of fresh air comes Guardian Media Events Manager turned fashion designer Kristy Ramnarine's Zamani Caribbean collection.
Zamani Caribbean, a locally made modest clothing line for every woman, was launched at Normandie The Hotel, St Ann's, on October 26.
The name of the brand is a combination of the names her daughters, Zahra and Amani. An Arabic word associated with time translated to ‘my time.’
Ramnarine said while media will always be her first passion, she loves events management and fashion.
She said fashion has always been a big part of her family. "Growing up as a child, my mum, Ann Marie Ramnarine, who is a professional seamstress, had this tendency of dressing up my sisters and I.
"My family was not the wealthiest growing up, but by the time my mum was finished dressing my sisters Karla, Keera and I, we felt like a million dollars.
“That is definitely where my sense of fashion started because mum was a fashionable person."
The Zamani Caribbean founder said people always complimented her on her sense of fashion. She also learned a lot of things about the trade which she attributed solely to her mother—while she is not a seamstress like her talented mum, she learned how to stick beads onto lace appliques for wedding dresses, sew buttons and even hem garments from a very young age, so the craft was very familiar to her.
Ramnarine, a journalist for 19 years, said she always wanted to be in the profession and to write. She literally lived her dream of working in the media starting in broadcast journalism at TTT in 2000, then learning print at the Guardian after TTT’s closure in 2015. Two years later she moved to the Express and TV6 where she excelled to become TV6’s Morning Edition producer. In 2015, she moved back to Guardian, where she took up the role of Weekend Producer at CNC3. And in March this year she was promoted to the company's Events Manager.
While her media career flourished, her dream of producing a fashion line was always there, a dream she spoke about with her mother over the years.
“My family and close friends all know that I loved dressing up and putting pieces together. That did not stop even when I got married to a Muslim man about four years ago. Why should it? Contrary to what the stigma attached to the religion a woman has a life after getting married to a Muslim man. Islam does not change who you are it only enhances the beauty within,” said Ramnarine.
When Ramnarine got married to Fuad Abu Bakr in 2014, she started dressing modestly but her sense of fashion remained the same.
“While I embraced dressing modestly it was difficult to source trendy, fashionable clothing locally and even internationally,” she said.
“The dream to launch a clothing line again popped in my head but this time my aim was to make locally-made modest fashion available right here in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Ramnarine said many people thought Muslim women only dressed in black abayas, loose robe-like over garments and black hijabs, images usually portrayed by international media whenever there was a report on Muslims and Muslim women. It’s a stigma she hoped her clothing line would break as she added there was much more to Islam than this.
The production of Zamani clothing started earlier this year and the pieces will be sold at the Market, located at Normandie The Hotel.
The collection comprised maxi dresses, trousers, tops and kimonos ranging from neutral shades to bright vibrant colours made from fabrics which were very light and suitable for the country's tropical climate.
Zamani Caribbean also features a mother-daughter matching ensemble, catering to women and girls. There isn't a men's line as yet however, Ramnarine laughed as she sais she was trying to encourage her husband to do it.
As for the future of Zamani Caribbean, Ramnarine said this is just the beginning, time will reveal.—reporting by Charles Kong Soo