Rinat grew up in Germany – his mother is Russian and his father is Ghanean. For me, he is a kind of embodiment of every man, from a world in which this United Colors of Bennetton ad campaign has come true. Rinat is mature enough in life’s experiences to spew the kind of wisdom that stops me in my tracks in its truth and sincerity (“my influence is in my mind, my influence is me”), and young enough in spirit that he can make a snowman cardigan that cost him $3 look like the newest at Barney’s Co-Op. Rinat’s huge dimpled smile, un-self-conscious manner, and coming-together of worldly good looks and style are luminous when compared to the more typical, close-to-the-cuff urban demeanor (he would never wear sunglasses unless he needed them – he loves people’s eyes).
When Rinat arrived in the Big Apple after finishing his civil service at home (as a dishwasher, because he says he could never carry a gun), he knew no one. However, the influence of his father’s home country and its accepting nature (when you pass women on the street, they are referred to as “mother”) brought him to fashion-related events and shows all over town with an air of innocence as if he belonged forever (oops, hopefully no fashion PR companies are reading this) and he for me, was a welcome breath of fresh air. I first became riveted by his Simpsons-meets-afro trademark hair when he was modeling in Michael Calloway’s fashion show, having no idea that Michael had discovered him at our launch party. Then there he was, in some captivating variation of a perfectly gigantic Kente cloth scarf, sweatpants rolled into knickers, an old woman’s oversized red coat, neon orange skinny jeans, and possibly his chain handbag strap as necklace at our holiday party and many, if not all, of fashion week’s shows and events. Rinat defines the word original – he gets the combinations of multi-references so right. If his music is anything like the scope of clothes and accessories that I walked into when I arrived to interview him in the middle of a Nor’easter, then we are in for a party of some universal proportions.