Vincy designer wows NY

Kimon Baptiste (right) with AK Couture owner and designer Zulema George (left) and Kimmystic.Clo New York liaison Camille De Freitas.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Top Vincentian fashion designer, Kimon Baptiste, says she has received “excellent” response to her “Kimmystic.Clo” label in her maiden “Pop-up Shop” in Brooklyn, New York last Saturday.

“The response was excellent,” said Baptiste in an exclusive interview with Caribbean Life at AK Couture Boutique and Beauty Bar on Church Avenue in Brooklyn, where she conducted her first “Pop-up Shop” or “Trunk Show” in the Big Apple. At a “Pop-up Shop” or “Trunk Show,” the public can view, buy or place an order of a particular merchandise.

“I’m so grateful,” added Baptiste, who has taken the nation and some Caribbean islands by storm with her unique designs and fashions. “Caribbean people came out and supported the brand [Kimmystic.Clo]. It’s very good.

“Today, was a kind of a dream come true,” continued Baptiste, whose designed outfits have won the “Best Evening Wear” in the Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines Pageant in Vincy Mas for the past seven years. “I always wanted this [‘Pop-up Shop’] to happen, and Zulema George, owner and designer of AK Couture Boutique and Beauty Bar made it happen for me.”

Baptiste, who owns the Kimmystic.Clo Boutique at the Y deLima building in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, and teaches clothing, textile and fashion, since last September, at the Girls High School in Kingstown, also complimented her New York liaison, Camille De Freitas, “in making today a reality.”

With excellent response on Saturday, Baptiste, who “groomed and chaperoned” Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the past three years, said the Kimmystic. Clo label will now be sold at AK Couture Boutique and Beauty Bar, 4516 Church Ave., Brooklyn, between 45th and 46th Street. Interested persons can call AK Couture at (347) 492-2522, or De Freitas at (347) 598-7398.

Baptiste, who designed the gowns for Miss Anguilla and Miss St. Lucia last year and Miss Caravel this year, was named the “Island Designer” of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the 2008 Caribbean Fashion Awards. Her highly sought-after, glamorous, non-traditional evening gowns are also distributed, with the Kimmystic. Clo label, in St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Anguilla.

The Cave Hill, University of the West Indies Bachelor of Science degree graduate in Management and Psychology said she has been “intimately involved” in the fashion industry for over 16 years, “designing and sewing every piece of clothing neatly and flawlessly – from the fabric selection to the finished product.”

Baptiste said, after her mother, Marcella Baptiste, who manages Kimmystic. Clo Boutique, taught her to use the “peddle” sewing machine at 8, she gradually began to develop her “God given talent of fashion design and dressmaking.”

But, from 13, she said she has worked “tirelessly to perfect the art, with the help of her trusted friends, the sewing machine, scissors, books and magazines.” In 2007, Baptiste said she opened the doors to a “One-Stop Shop” Boutique under the label Kimmystic.Clo.

She said her debut into the world of fashion and runway shows took place in December 1999 at the Fashion Caribbean show in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Baptiste, herself a former Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has participated in several fashion shows, including the launch of the St. Kitts Fashion Week at the Harlem School of Arts in New York in 2008.

Baptiste said her collections are “constantly evolving and reflect the Caribbean, our climate, nature and culture, as well as experiments with other materials, such as denim and natural fibers.” She said the collections comprise “relaxed yet fabulous clothing” that also feature accessories made in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

She has participated in the “Fashion has no Borders” fashion show in Canada and “Islands of the World” Fashion week in the Bahamas.

In 2012, Baptiste said she was “afforded the opportunity to work intimately as an intern for three months with Fashion Runway’s runner-up Victor Luna in Manhattan.

There, she said she took on the role as Luna’s assistant designer and “delved into the project heads on,” recalling that the experience was “truly an amazing” that allowed her “front row view and insight” into the New York fashion industry.

Baptiste said the designers’ love and respect for each other “blossomed into a beautiful friendship.”

In 2014, she said Luna returned the compliment by collaborating with Kimmystic.Clo and showcasing his collection at her De Ja Vu Fashion show.

“Patrons were wowed, and both designers delivered a show that was second to none, and solidified the fact that Kimmystic.Clo was truly in a league of her own,” Baptiste said.

Incidentally, Baptiste said she was made “redundant,” as a junior accountant at the Mustique Co., where she worked for six years, when she returned home after internship with Luna.

“After that, I decided to go 100 percent fashion,” she said. “It was always a juggling act [balancing her full time accounting job with her passion for fashion],” she said.

As she continues to dig deeper into her fashion hat, Baptiste said she is “fully aware of the need for perfectly suited clothing that are ready to wear,” stating that she has working women in mind, “who not only want to look professional by day but also able to transition into that diva at night.”

She said the Kimmystic.Clo 2015 Jersey Collection, which already has been exhibited in Barbados, was recently featured at a “Strut for a cause” fashion event in the home of the Pitons, St. Lucia. The collection includes several chic and trendy pieces, fashioned from soft cotton.

From her collection, Baptiste has also designed custom-made pieces for her client list, and has recently ventured into Kimmystic.Clo Bridals.

With the aim of revolutionizing and elevating Caribbean fashion, Baptiste disclosed that she “took on a small but coveted role” for Michael Costello at the 2015 New York Fashion week.

She has also had the opportunity to “style” R&B singer Mya in two of her pieces from her Resort collection, while she worked as an assistant stylist on the set of Miami-based Vincentian Soca sensation Kevin Lyttle, renowned for his mega smash hit “Turn me on.”

This year, Baptiste said she is focusing on producing evening gowns and wardrobes for pageants, but will not participate in chaperoning, stating that: “Chaperoning is very exhausting.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication for the ladies, especially if you’re a competitive person,” she said.

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