Help us provide uniforms for 200 students in Haiti!

Students to receive uniforms

There are only 3 days left until our fundrasier ends and we need your help! Dresses for Haiti is raising money to provide 200 uniforms for students at 5 schools in Anse-a-Pitre, Haiti. Find out more here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-education-and-economic-sustainability-in-haiti While we are … Continue reading

Fashion Week in Haiti!!


Fashion Week 2012: A Short Overview

During November 8th-11th, The Republic of Haiti will host its inaugural Fashion Week!  This glamorous event will take place at the five-star Karibe Hotel in Port Au Prince.  Opportunities for tourism and learning about Haitian Outreach are available all day until 6 PM, at which time the designers will show off their stunning new collections.

Karibe Hotel:

Fashion Week will be comprised primarily of Caribbean clothing lines and aspiring native-Haitians in the apparel industry, as well as a few globally-acclaimed style icons.  Many of the designers are also strong advocates for charity and outreach in Haiti.  Haiti Fashion Week is a great opportunity for international and local designers to exhibit their upcoming collections, help expand Haiti’s young, growing apparel industry, and promote awareness about the plight of their country’s 2010 earthquake victims.

Earlier this year, Donna Karan, founder of Urban Zen, partnered with local Haitians in the industry to collaborate on apparel designs, promote their lines, and broaden her outreach network.  Among these was Michel Chataigne, an upcoming Haitian clothing designer.  Chataigne truly expresses Haitian cultural themes in his line through breezy fabrics, intricate artisan detailing, and bold color palettes.  Although Chataigne is well-known internationally through London Fashion Week, he has not heavily marketed his line to the USA.  Fashion Week will be a great chance for Americans to see his unique creations.

Michel Chataigne:

Some of Chataigne’s amazing garments:

Since 1999, Maëlle Figaro David has been both a savvy entrepreneur and apparel designer in Port Au Prince, Haiti.  Her company is prominent in both the Haitian fashion and business industries.  Maëlle styles and produces an extremely wide range of clothing, including schoolgirl uniforms, dance costumes, carnival attire, and even wedding gowns from couture.

With her unique draping techniques, geometrically shaped ruffles, and subtly detailed patterns, Maëlle Figaro David truly makes each of her creations as if it was an individual, custom-made piece of art.  The Maëlle collection is available to both local and international buyers on www.maellecreations.com.

Maëlle Figaro David:

Some of Maëlle’s beautiful designs:

Additionally, some US designers will participate in Haiti Fashion Week, including Dayanne Danier. Owner of the label “Bien Abye,” which translates to “Well Dressed” in French Creole, Danier creates sleek and modern clothing while mixing vibrant, Amazon-inspired themes in her collection. She describes her target audience as “… a woman who wants to put her best self forward. Her wardrobe is an investment, it’s constantly evolving, she likes to work and enjoy different activities…she’s chic, classic and attractive.” (New York CaribNews)

Dayanne Danier:

Some of Danier’s stunning outfits:

The complete lineup of designers at Haiti Fashion Week is available at http://www.haitifashionweek2012.com/#!designers/c1qvi/.  Many of these the apparel lines debuting at Haiti Fashion week are characterized by contemporary high-fashion juxtaposed with Haitian artistic inspiration.  If you would like to learn more about some of the designers or want ideas on fashion styling, please let us know!

Fashion Week will bring publicity to Haiti on several levels.  Not only will the designers be able to promote their fashion lines internationally, but the Republic of Haiti will have a chance to boost the apparel sector in its national economy.  Just a few years ago, Haitian clothing exports to the U.S. alone totaled around 500 million dollars, and experts predict that this statistic will grow steadily.  The fashion industry can create many new jobs and improve infrastructure overall.  Fashion Week could be the local aspiring designers’ and artists’ big chance to break out into the global apparel industry and expand their boutiques into large companies. (Huffington Post)

For more details on Haiti Fashion Week, email info@haitifashioweek2012.com or call 954-393-9077 (USA).

Do you have any favorite Haitian designers who you would like us to feature in an upcoming article? Leave a comment below, or email ericalin.dressesforhaiti@gmail.com. I would love to hear your feedback!

Until next time,

Erica

Haiti-inspired Fashion for Fall


When you travel to a new place, what do you first notice?  Does the warm, clean, island air lift your spirits?  Do you smell exotic, spicy dishes cooking at the restaurant a few blocks down?  What have you heard about this place and what do you think you’ll see?  How is it different from your hometown?  What aspect of this place intrigues you most?

Personally, I notice the clothing differences whenever I go on foreign vacations.  I am fascinated by their apparel designs and how they tie into their culture.  Today, I have compiled some ideas for Fall Fashion inspired by Haiti’s unique heritage, landscapes, and art.

  1. Big, bright florals.

    Fernand Pierre: Fleurs avec Pot Bleu

    Fernand Pierre: Fleurs avec Pot Bleu

    • Haiti’s beautiful flora and fauna remain in full bloom throughout the autumn months.  Colorful trees and plants line the beaches of Haiti.  The Hibiscus, the national flower, is especially prominent in the tropical Haitian landscape.

  • Get the look: Whether or not you live in a perpetually warm region, you can always sport beautiful, summery flower-prints.  For instance, I carry this floral-print Juicy Couture tote during all four seasons of the year.  I really like how tropical themes and images were painted into an abstract design on the fabric. The textile almost resembles one of my favorite Haitian art pieces, shown above.

 

2.Artistic tribal prints and embellishments

  • I am particularly fascinated by Haiti’s unique blend of African and Western culture in their food preferences, architecture, and artwork.  Many of Haiti’s artists strive to represent their lifestyles and heritage through a wide variety of mediums.  I included two of my favorite paintings below:

Toussaint Auguste’s “Birds in Nests,”                                                 Andre Normil – “Noah’s Ark”

Toussaint Auguste’s “Birds in Nests,”                                             Andre Normil – “Noah’s Ark”

  • Get the look:  I encourage you to incorporate the beautiful, one-of-a-kind Haitian artwork in your everyday clothing.  Seek nature themed and native-printed sweaters, fringed ponchos, and breezy.   Pacsun is a great mainstream destination for artisan-bohemian winter wear.  I also recommend Modcloth.com, and these looks in particular for inspiration:

3. Daring, yet feminine cocktail dresses.

  • Haitian women are true leaders in their modern society.  Over the recent years, they have really taken a stand for themselves in their country and pushed for their rights.  For instance, after the devastating earthquake struck in 2010, a group of mothers took it upon themselves to establish a new school for the children in their village.  Despite the hardships they face, these moms continue to educate many of these same kids today.
  • Get the look:  Just as the women in Haiti have empowered themselves over the years, you can express your boldness through your personal style.  For instance, you can easily dress up a simple, elegant black dress with a bold, sequined shrug.  Look for traditional designs with one or two unique things about it – for example, ruffles in contrasting colors, animal prints with floral embellishments, or glitter and gold on a ballerina-style dress.

4. Black and White Graphics.

  • American designers are becoming increasingly aware of the rough situation in Haiti.  Many are inspired to reach out to the earthquake victims and promote charity in their fashion lines.  For instance, Donna Karan has introduced a Haitian-inspired collection with neutral-colored, tribal-printed textile designs that symbolize Haitian artwork.
  • Get the look:  Seek out loose, comfortable sweaters and shirts with asymmetrical necklines.  For a more business-friendly look, spice up only one piece of your outfit. Don a printed pencil skirt or mix a funky blouse with sleek black slacks and a blazer.

5. Fashion for charity

  • Finally, you know we couldn’t talk about fashion without mentioning fashion that helps Haiti! Last week we told you about an amazing charity called Haitian Creations. Not only do they have amazing bags and jewelry you can purchase but they also promote sustainability with the community and Haitian women.
  • Get the look: Go to http://www.haitiancreations.com/ and support this amazing charity!

If you have any questions or need advice on fashion styling, feel free to email me at ericalin.dresseforhaiti@gmail.com.

Until next time,

Erica

 

Charity Spotlight: Haitian Creations


Last week we highlighted the 5th year of Haitian Creations. Haitian Creations is a program through (non-profit) Heartline Ministries, where Haitian women make purses, earrings, accessories and jewelry while at the same time empowering and creating independence for them. Heartline … Continue reading

Social Media, Bello Empowering Women in Haiti


If there was ever a revolutionary way to be discovered through social media, American actress Maria Bello helped pave the way. Bello has been a long time proponent of helping women in Haiti and has vowed to keep a hand … Continue reading

Haitian Fashionspiration: Truly Unique Designers Involved in Both Design and Ethics


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Although Haiti is not widely considered to be a worldwide fashion hub, the country is home to several innovative, stylish individuals who have launched unique fashion lines.  Many Haitian designers derive inspiration from their cultures and represent them through their outfits.  Some even reach out to the suffering victims of their homelands with their extraordinary fashions.  In honor and celebration of Haiti’s upcoming, inaugural Fashion Week this November, we here at Dresses for Haiti are spotlighting some of our favorite, amazing Haitian fashion designers!

From Brooklyn, New York, Nit Ra Sit creates urban-chic yet exotic special-order clothing for women.  She collaborates with other floor designers to sew custom-made couture garments for her clients.  In addition to being the entrepreneur of Nit Ra Sit Originals, she does outreach and charity work for Haiti Earthquake victims of 2010 through her fashion line.

Tribal prints are prominent throughout her contemporary, fashion-forward pieces.  Her signature garments feature unique color schemes with contrasting embellishments.  I have posted my personal favorite in her collection: a flowy, floor-length gown in which she combines African wax print fabric with asymmetrical ruffles, peacock-feather color palettes, and glittering, stoned shoulder straps.

Nit Ra Sit (on left):

The dress:

Hassan Pierre, a graduate from Parsons the New School for Design, strives to incorporate sustainability in his modern, art-inspired clothing line, Way It Should Be.  All of his beautifully garments are constructed with organic, eco-friendly fabrics, natural dyes, and recycled zippers.  Even the hang tags are comprised of soy ink and seeded paper.  You could plant them in your backyard; they would make a nice addition to your garden.

His mother may have inspired some of his passion for fashion.  As told to Boca News in 2007:

“My mother used to take me to the Paris shows from Haiti. She is what I like to call a fashion junkie.”

In addition to debuting in national fashion shows, Pierre has been featured in both Vogue and Marie Claire. He has also launched a second line, VIP Couture.  Several celebrities, including the Olsen twins and Nicole Richie, adore VIP Couture and frequently shop there.

Saving the environment is not the only cause Pierre is passionate about; he is also very involved in outreach to Haiti.  His company is based in Port Au Prince, Haiti, where it will remain stationed while the city recovers from the recent earthquake.  He continues to help the suffering victims with his eco-friendly, sustainable clothing.

Hassan Pierre:

One of Pierre’s dresses featured in Vogue Magazine’s Style Ethics Section:

Miami-native Ben Almonor designs bold, glamorous outfits for women.  Almonor does not have a specific favorite fashion style; rather, he derives inspiration from the art and nature he observes.  However, he does try to incorporate his Haitian heritage in many of his creations.  Perhaps his childhood in Miami, Florida, one of the most prominent Haitian cultural hubs in the USA, has sparked his inspiration for Haitian culture and ideals in his fashion line.

Almonor is not a fan of jewelry and baubles; he states that “most of my signature pieces are already heavily accessorized.”   He specializes in tailoring elaborate garments perfectly to the female figure, and Lycra is his favorite fabric for doing so.  Versace is one of his all-time favorite designers; he says “Versace is so full of bold colors and style.”  I definitely see the Versace ideals of boldness and upscale flashiness in Almonor’s clothing, especially his glamorous cocktail dresses.

Ben Almonor:

One of his stunning gowns:

Phelicia Dell, owner of VèVè Collections, runs a stunning line of artistic, one-of-a-kind women’s handbags.  Each of her purses is fashioned with unique fabric combinations, such as twill-blend bases with brocade-silks corners.  The centers of the bags have sequins and beads sewn in intricate designs, many of which represent the nature in Haiti.

Dell is part of the Vital Voice Board, where women and designers collaborate in outreach to different causes and refugees, including the suffering victims in Haiti.  Among the Board members is Diane Von Furstenberg, the praised designer responsible for the infamous wrap dress.   In 2009, Furstenberg sponsored a global competition where she nominated Ms. Dell as the “Emerging Handbag Designer.”

Phelicia Dell:

Some of Dell’s amazing handbags:

Haiti-native David Andre has become one of my new favorite resort-wear designers.   His exotic, timeless creations are versatile for many occasions from Caribbean cruises to late-night beach parties.  His main inspiration comes from his environment, the music he hears, and the culture he observes..  I definitely can see the lively, Haitian islander life reflected in his bold prints and breezy fabrics.

Andre has been featured in the 2012 London Olympics, as well as Miami Fashion Week.  If he were to choose one celebrity to wear his clothing, it would be Madonna; she transforms the simplest garments into bold, trendy statements.  Andre has done this with several of his pieces.  For instance, he turned a simple, yellow terrycloth dress into a flowing, open-front beach cover.  Unfortunately, his website is currently under construction, but he can reached davidandrecollection@gmail.com for questions about orders, prices, and catalogues.

David Andre:

One of his resortwear designs:

Want more information on the designers or Haitian fashion inspiration? Email me at ericalin.dressesforhaiti@gmail.com.

Until next time,

Erica

Progress and Resilience after the Earthquake: A Call to Action Two Years Later


Two years ago, on January 12th, 2010, a massive earthquake hit Haiti. The world watched in horror as millions of people felt the effects of this devastating catastrophre take it toll on one of the poorest countries of the world. The world stood up in solidarity and billions of dollars were donated to Haiti in an effort to help the Haitian people rebuild the buildings that fell and most importantly, try to regain normalcy in their lives.

Dresses for Haiti was established after the earthquake in order to raise awareness of a topic that was slowly vanishing out of the news headlines. Although we knew we could not give back the lives or help on the ground, we felt, along with thousands of other NGOs, we were doing a small part to help the Haitian people after the earthquake. Cecilia Millan, Oxfam’s country director in Haiti, said the two-year anniversary “must be a call to action” [i]

After countless telethons, fundraisers, and donated aid was made in the name of helping Haitians there is still much more that needs to be done. The US alone reportedly donated about $3.1 billion for Haiti since the January 12, 2010 quake.[ii] Although billions of dollars of aid have been given Haitian President Martelly demonstrated the reality: more than 8 million people live without electricity, 5 million are illiterate and 8 out of 10 Haitians live on less than $2 a day.[iii] The organization, MADRE, reported a staggering twenty-two percent of IDPs and two percent of general community members have been victims of sexual assault in Port-au-Prince. [iv] The problems facing Haiti are only further plagued by the scattered aid, corrupt government officials, and harsh US and international policy towards Haiti. The earthquake only perpetuated the persistent problems.

Today, thousands still are displaced in Haiti, the tent camps continue to exist two years later, approximately half of the $5 billion in aid has yet to be distributed, gender based violence continues, and millions still live in poverty. There is so much work that has to be accomplished.

I, along with the countless volunteers with Dresses for Haiti and other organizations, have take Millan’s call to action and so have you, but we must continue this call in order to help the Haitian people.

As you have read here, seen at one of our events, or read in a book, Haiti has amazing cultural, historical and artistic achievements. We here at Dresses for Haiti are taking our call to action not only to illuminate those achievements but to also bring light to the gender based violence taking place Haiti. Two years later we are still committed.

As one person so elegantly commented:

“Haiti needs nurses that can come down there for more than a week to 10 days. Doctors are needed. People who can swing hammers and clean up rubble. The cholera can be licked with renal lactate hydration solution (RL), and clean drinking water. Little girls can be clothed with dresses made from pillow cases. Shoes can be donated. School supplies can be collected as well as OTC medical supplies.”[v]

All of which rings true. Here at Dresses for Haiti we have recently started “Little Dresses for Haiti” in which we make little dresses and send them to Haiti for the young girls. Already, Christine Jamieson and her wonderful volunteers have donated little dresses. We are still looking for other volunteers to get together, have a sewing party, and make these little dresses for the young girls most affected by the earthquake.  Dresses for Haiti, along with our Haitian ambassador, will be making a trip to Haiti, mid February, to personally give the dresses to these girls.

Be apart of our call to action by volunteering or spreading the word. If you would like to be a part of our call to action email volunteer@dressesforhaiti.org

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Spotlight Charity of the Week!


Spotlight Charity of the week

KOFAVIV


Why Dresses for Haiti supports KOFAVIV

Dresses for Haiti began after the founder read an article about KOFAVIV’s mission. A small newspaper article stated women were being raped and this organization was there to support victims. Not only are the supporting victims with actual help but they are empowering them as well. What really struck us most was that this organization is run by women who a rape survivors and are therefore able to lend both physical and emotional supports. Continue reading to find out what KOFAVIV does and how you can help.

What is KOFAVIV

KOFAVIV is an organization in haiti that was established by and for rape survivors. KOFAVIV stands for “Komisyon Fanm Viktim Viktim louse,” translated from Creole to English, this acronym stands for “The Commission of Women Victims for Victims”

What do they do?

KOFAVIV provides support for rape victims as well as a continued desire to change the institutions that allow rape to continue and be unaddressed.

  • Providing a safe space for women to gather, support one another and organize to meet their needs and rebuild their community networks.
  • Offering trainings for women on how to stay safe, manage stress, care for traumatized children and maintain family health and hygiene in the hazardous environment of the camps.
  • Facilitating psycho-social support through peer-counseling groups of rape survivors who empower one another to heal and rebuild their lives. (www.madre.org)

Check out their mission here at

http://kofaviv.org/

or

http://www.madre.org/index/meet-madre-1/our-partners-6/haiti-kofaviv-36.html

Women in Haiti


It is very difficult to raise a family in Haiti, with violence, crimes and starvation. The average annual income is under $400 and most live in poverty. Life is extremely difficult, especially for women in Haiti. Rape and violence against women have a high rate in Haiti. Women are seen as sexual objects, usable and abusable.

A women’s role in society depends on her or her husband’s economic status. Sadly most women are very poor and they are limited to what they do. Such as field work, domestic work, working at a sweatshop or selling at market. It is said women do most of the work, but they don’t make the decisions. If a woman does not give her husband a son, he finds another woman to have a boy with. Haitian women work hard despite all they must go through. In hopes that their children can one day have a better life.

Our organization’s (Dresses For Haiti)  goal is to be a part of change for Haiti. We hope with every dress that is made and sold, it will be the next step to giving the women and children a better life.

Tragedy strikes Japan


On March 11, 2011 Japan was struck by a massive earthquake. Causing damage, fires, blackouts, and tsunamis. Many lives have been lost due to this unfortunate event. The earthquake caused two explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Leading to leakage of radioactive material. It is said that about 190 people have been exposed to radiation. Some but not all, may be exposed to a possibility of cancer. This all depends on the type of radioactive material that escaped. We give our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the people of Japan.

Although our main mission lies in Haiti, we know the aftereffects that can shock a nation after an earthquake and it is not the physical aftershocks but the emotional ones. A tragedy like so, exposes the fragility of mankind. What happens when government and politics are no longer relevant because food and resources are scarce? It is amazing to see the response from the international community but we must escape politics and bureaucracy in order to create real change. Clean up and restructuring is going to take several years, we must not waver in our support for a nation struck by such a damaging tragedy. Earthquakes are both physically and mentally traumatic and in this time we support the people of Japan effected by this tragedy, the people abroad effected by this tragedy and the people at home.

It is in these times of tragedy that notions of “otherness” become irrelevant. We are no longer divided by notions of the nation-state and political boarder lines. We need to create a bridge of commonality based on the label of humanity. We are all a part of the human race and we must help our people out of these tough time. We must stay away from blaming and pointing fingers. Let us realize that humans are suffering and we must do all we can to help and ease this suffering.

The goal of our organization is to ease this human suffering through awareness and knowledge. We understand the process of dealing with the aftereffects of an earthquake because we are relentless on our mission. Although the topic of Haiti may have escaped the minds of many we still continue our mission to never forget the the tragic earthquake that struck Haiti back in January 2010. Our goal is to help women and children of Haiti, by raising money with every dress that is made and sold.

You can help ease the suffering of our peoples of both Haiti and Japan at this websites.

You can help Japan by donating:

http://www.worldvision.org/worldvision/eappeal.nsf/donation-item?Open&amt=50&num=371&campaign=113655219&cmp=KNC-113655219

You can help Haiti by donating:

http://www.helphaitinow.org/

-Because Knowledge can start a revolution.