Fashion designer Rykii de Jude and one of the models who participated in his show for the Friends of Barbados Association. // Chelsea Novak

From Heaven and nature—Barbadian designer brings his fashion to Edmonton

The first outfit fashion designer Rykii de Jude ever designed was for himself. He was a 22-year-old living in his home country of Barbados, and needed an outfit to wear to an event, but couldn’t find anything in his country’s capital, Bridgetown, that he liked or could afford. So he picked out some fabrics and made one himself. Now 52, he’s shown his collections in cities all over the world—but Edmonton was his first Canadian destination.

Suit by Rykii de Jude. // Chelsea Novak

The Edmonton Friends of Barbados Association invited de Jude, along with Barbadian jeweler Ryan Cummings, to the city for the Edmonton Heritage Festival earlier this month, and then afterward, the association’s members were invited to a private event to see some of de Jude’s designs. 

Following his first foray into fashion design, de Jude started making clothes for his friends, and then for their girlfriends.

“When we started going out as a group, the guys’ girlfriends got jealous and said, ‘You have to make us something.’ I was like, ‘How do you make something for girls?’ … but I said I’d try it,” de Jude explains.

None of his education was in fashion, but de Jude figured it out as he went along. Over the last three years though, he has been studying tailoring and is applying to train with the Savile Row Academy in Trinidad, which will allow him to learn bespoke tailoring from the very best.

“It’s a very intensive program, so with my creativity and some foundational stuff, then I can start to teach my people how to do things even better and we can have an even better impact on the quality of clothing all over the world,” de Jude says.

The designer showcased two collections for the Friends of Barbados: the first featured more casual cuts and bright colours—particularly blues, pinks, and white—and the other was more formal, evening wear with dramatic lines and a lot of black and white, with pops of colour here and there. 

De Jude credits Heaven for granting him his inspiration—and nature. 

“The more that I look around and I see the beauty of what has been created, then it gives me more design ideas,” he says.

De Jude hints that there are big things ahead, but will only say that his plan is to take his brand international.

Dress by Rykii de Jude. // Chelsea Novak

The Edmonton Friends of Barbados Association was founded three years ago to celebrate Barbadian arts and culture. 

Yvette Leslie, the association’s president, and Trueman Macdonald, vice-president, explains that they also raise funds to support Barbadians in different ways, like supporting schools in Barbados and bringing Barbadian talent to Edmonton.

The association is open to anyone and is always looking for volunteers. It also has an annual event to celebrate Barbados’ independence each November. For more information about the association, visit its Facebook page

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