By: DeoVonte “Deo” Means
Since my earliest years of being a young fashionisto, I’ve always been most fascinated with the art of haute couture millinery. One of my most fond memories was meeting the iconic Phillip Treacy years ago at a Neiman Marcus event. Pharrell Williams, and his now infamous Vivienne Westwood hat, can be credited with reigniting the art form as a fashionable trend among the populace, but many of us never lost our fascination with intriguing and high quality hats. A few weeks ago social media was sent into a doozy as a young Atlanta based milliner released the new photos of his creations which can only be described as provocatively elegant. Very Au Courant! At this moment, I knew I not only had to connect with him, but I would also become a new client. I reached out to the designer and to my surprise, he was most welcoming and down to Earth. Although his demeanor is polite & shy his creations cloaked in ribbons, para sisal, velour, beaver felt, fur, Austrian crystal and flowers speaks volumes! His creations narrate the character of the person wearing them and without restrictions.
Upon our first conversation, I immediately learned Otis Damo’n is a man with a clear, strategic and artistic plan. His mission is to implement head transformations without restrictions, that will cause head tornados! Otis Damón is a millinery brand that does not focus on creating trends, but timeless pieces for his wearers. Each creation has its own personality and style without duplication. Otis Damón infuses the past with the present as he orchestrates an artistic flow with each creation influenced by color and shape. After struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts at an early age, Otis discovered a love for fashion and garment construction. Almost instantly, Otis garnered a significant following for his millinery creations within his community. Former Hempstead’s Mayor James A. Garner presented Otis Damón a Citation for Entrepreneurship at the age of 16. While attending Nassau Community College, Otis caught the eye of hat guru Lola Ehrlich of Lola Millinery and began interning. Otis also worked under the tutelage of the late Horace Weeks of Peter & Irving. This is where he mastered the art of blocking. His eyes are presently set on upscale retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman & Neiman Marcus. His breathtaking couture designs have been on 5th Avenue in Fortunoff with Mr. Fortunoff’s fine jewelry and sold at Henri Bendel. His hat drama has been in Broadway productions such as “Look What the Cat Dragged In” written by Cheryl Lane Lewis and the hit television show, Being Mary Jane. His hats continue to top off New York’s Fashion Week and his clientele includes Deidra Roper (Spinderella), Alicia Keys, Patti Labelle, Victoria Rowell and now DeoVonte Means. He chatted with the Flyy-Life and here is what he had to say-
FL– Describe the style aesthetic of your brand.
OD– The style aesthetic of my brand derives from so many different places. Sometimes shape & embellishment will be inspired from my favorite time periods which are the 20’s-40’s. Many times my creations are birthed out of my greatest pains. This could be a death, loneliness, frustrations or depression. Sometimes I’ll just create something beautiful in the wee hours of the night because I can’t sleep.
FL– How did you discover your passion for millinery arts and how did you get into the business?
OD– In my 10th grade year of high school I started sewing garments first. Due to my frustrations of not being able to master tailoring vs sewing a garment, I started making soft cloth hats such as coofies, pagodas, apple jacks, etc. out of any fabrication I could get my hands on. At the time, leather, fur, wool, Kinte Cloth and the likes were my specialties.
FL– What goes into the normal process of constructing one of your creations?
OD– The normal process of constructing one of my creations is interchanging my blocks or molds for shape. I then decide the fabrication & then the color.
FL– Who are some of the designers that you creatively admire in the business?
OD– My mentor milliner Lola Ehrlich, milliner Philip Treacy, milliner Stephen Jones, & designers Alexander McQueen & Iris Van Herpen are some of the milliners / designers that I admire the most in the business.
FL– What are some trends that you try to steer clear of with your product?
OD– I tend to stay away from trends. I don’t like them & they lack originality & personalization. My hats & head pieces are made solely to compliment the individual wearing it. For example; personality, height, face shape, etc.
FL– What has been your favorite item from the collection to date and why?
OD– My favorite pieces to date is The Bullet Collection as well as The Helmet Hoodie. Both can be unisex & are definitely attention grabbers. They’re also fun to create.
FL– What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
OD– Currently I am putting together a men’s collection that can be reproduced in various colors & fabrications. I’m also creating an editorial line for selective stylist and photographers that have captured my work with highest level of presentation.
FL– Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
OD– In the next 5 years it is my hope that the Otis Damo’n brand is one that cannot be ignored. One that’s desired to be worn in everyday lifestyles. Hoping from work and play to formal and casual is a desired must to have my creations worn by many. My slogan is “Crowning the World!” and being global is just what my intentions are.
FL– What has been your most profound and awe inspiring moment with the collection to date?
OD– My most profound and awe inspiring moment with The Bullet and The Helmet Hoodie collections is seeing men of all ages rid conservative restrictions in style and color using my creations. From having a clientele of predominately woman to having men of all ages from NY, Detroit, Chicago, LA, Atlanta, & Europe intrigued with adding one of these pieces into their wardrobe is an exciting movement for me. Finally the fitted cap can rest periodically. Lol…
FL– Where can viewers find out more about you and connect with you?
OD– Viewers can find me & connect with me through email & social media. I enjoy consulting with my client’s one on one to get a feel of the individual that’s next to be crown.
For information about Otis Damo’n you can contact him at:
Facebook- Otis Damo’n