American Designers Involved in Haiti

Fashion itself is a universal constant; it ties the world together, broadens on all geographical scales, and impacts everyone’s life.  As one of the most volatile, yet undying forms of three-dimensional art, apparel has transformed into a rapidly-growing means of creative global outreach. Many CEOs of major clothing companies today center their missions on philanthropic practices.

For instance, Donna Karan, with her classic, yet edgy style, stands as one of America’s most highly revered designers.  What intrigues me about Donna Karan is the fact that she juxtaposes the ideals of simplicity with edgy, modern glamour.  Her collections have extremely different themes, such as “Resort 2013” and “The Haitian Collection (Spring 2012).”  Nevertheless, every outfit she creates seems to reflect Karan’s overall style as a whole; she strikes just the right balance of boldness and classiness in her pieces.

However, Donna Karan’s fame does not merely expand to the apparel world.  She established Urban Zen, a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the economies and infrastructures of developing countries.  Urban Zen incorporates sustainable materials and exotic inspiration in its goods.  Karan is active in the improvement of Haiti.  All of the profits earned from Urban Zen’s Haitian products are used for her “Hope Help and Rebuild Haiti” campaign.  (

Ever since the devastating 2010 earthquake, Donna Karan has conducted monthly visits to Haiti.  During her trips, she assists and collaborates with local artists for marketing promotions, entrepreneurial development, and design projects.  As stated in Donna’s Journal:

“Haiti is where all the initiatives I care so passionately about come together; preserving culture, securing the helath and well-being for people and the education of children who represent their tomorrow…the vision for Haiti is simple: help Haiti help itself by utilizing and organizing its artisans, natural resources, and production potential to create business models that can be properly marketed and distributed throughout the US and Europe.” (

Donna Karan:

©2012 The Donna Karan Company LLC

Founded in France in 2004 by Patrick and Fabrice Tardieu, Bogosse has impacted luxury menswear in US, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean.  The Tardieu brothers tie classic professionalism and modern artistic inspiration together in their clean-cut business attire.  Bogosse apparel is exclusive to Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and

Outside of the fashion industry, the Tardieu brothers partake in several international charities, such as Charitable Organizations Project Medishare, B-Peace, Ovarian Cancer Research Funds, Rush Philanthropic Foundation, Galapagos Conservancy Foundation, Innocence en danger, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Sunflower. They also attended Haiti’s Fashion Week in November, where they promoted outreach for their home country.

Photographer: Lynne Sladky Agency: AP Photo

Ever since TOMS Shoes’ onset in 2006, Blake Mycoskie has revolutionized the footwear industry with his signature slip-on flats.  His shoes were inspired from the traditional Argentinean alpargata, a slipper-like espadrille comprised of lightweight, yet durable textiles.  TOMS Shoes has recently launched a “vegan TOMS” collection, which features shoes comprised of organic cotton shells and ecologically friendly fabric dyes.

However, Mycoskie’s true fame arose from the TOMS Shoes one-for-one program.  For every pair of shoes sold, TOMS donates another to a child in a developing country.  Mycoskie has hosted footwear distributions in Haiti ever since the 2010 Earthquake.  The TOMS Shoes mission statement has become so widely recognized that other companies, such as Sketchers’ BOBS, have undertaken the exact same cause.

Fabric is the medium, charity is the mission, and design is the talent.  All of these designers share these ideals; they express these three valuess throughout their highly successful pieces.  Three simple, yet sound themes, tie the worlds of fashion and philanthropy together.



Haiti Fashion Week: Part 2!

Fashion Week 2012

During the weekend of November 8th-11th, The Republic of Haiti hosted its inaugural Fashion Week.  The event was sponsored by the European Union.  The show was coordinated with the help of several organizations, including the Haitian Support Center for the Promotion of Enterprise, Haitian Network of Designers, and the Ministry of Culture.  Fashion Week featured local Haitian boutique owners and worldwide style icons.  People all over the world, from the Dominican Republic to Japan, flocked to Port Au Prince to see 36 amazing, talented designers showcase their upcoming collections.

Because the climate in Haiti is perpetually mild and warm, the apparel lines consisted primarily of tropical resort-wear.  I was impressed by the intricate, artisan swimsuits, floral sun hats, and breezy, light layers.  In general, bright prints, tribal accents, and sheer overlays were the primary styling themes throughout the clothing.

Floral and safari graphics are mixed together in Milliance’s simple, yet beautiful outfit.



Giovanna Menard’s establishes a connection with nature, through earth-toned accessories and animal-printed fabrics.


Giovanna Menard:

According to Dominican-Republic designer Socrates McKinney, “Haiti has a very strong culture, and that in some sense has to be reflected in the fashion.”  The Haitian designers went above and beyond with incorporating heritage and history in their clothes.  The garments definitely portray the current social, cultural, and economic landscapes of Haiti – in fact, some intricate outfits were literally superimposed with two-dimensional, still-life works.

This dress by Verona, a native Haitian designer, reflects a scene from the Haitian War of Independence, an important part of Haiti’s history.  Verona displays reverence for Toussaint Louverture, Dessalines, Henry Cristophe, and Alexander Petion – the Founding Fathers of Haiti.

The soldier’s clothing on the dress resembles the military fashion of the era.  The jacket, top-hat, and fitted white pants were, like most armies’ attire at the time, inspired from the infamous uniforms of the British Redcoats.

Although the Caribbean-themed clothing was highly emulated, the evening wear truly spotlighted the Haitian designers’ artistic talents.  Each individual garment was stunning in its own, indescribable way.  However, I was especially fascinated by the show’s gradual day-to-night style shift throughout.  The same islander themes, color palettes, and graphics were still used as the clothing slowly transitioned to black-tie apparel.  The summery, tribal maxi-dresses were now embellished with sequins and beads.  Designers began accenting their creations with bolder and flashier accessories.

Notice Maelle David’s s subtle style transformation. She incorporated a funky, geometric theme in her elegant white gown. The ribboned fedora and loose, asymmetrical, yet sleek jacket help establish a more glamorous tone throughout the outfit.

Maelle David:

The blazer-and-pencil-skirt combination is popular in our corporate-world today.  Sibylle Denis Touat mixed the business-casual and cocktail-affair looks together in a truly unique way.  A bright, fitted blazer is layered on top of a ruffled black dress.  Touat topped the outfit off with sparkling, bold accessories.

Sibylle Denis Touat:

I really like how the hibiscus, Haiti’s national flower, is patterned throughout the overlay in Miko Guillaume’s beautiful maxi-dress.

Miko Guillaume

The Republic of Haiti is still reeling from the effects of its devastating earthquake, and many designers struggle to broaden their businesses locally.  As David Andre stated, “The clientele I have (in Haiti) is very, very small, so that’s why I have to work much harder overseas.”  The apparel industry received a good deal of international publicity with the help of renowned Haitian designers, such as Michel Chatigne, Patrick and Fabrice Tardieu (founders of Bogosse), and Hassan Pierre.  Furthermore, visitors from around the world now understand more about the Haitian culture, history, and the entire country as a whole.

Overall, Fashion Week was highly successful. The entire nation worked together to take large steps in both the global fashion world and in improving the nation’s infrastructure. The Republic of Haiti was able to increase awareness in designers in several countries.  Through Fashion Week, the designers spread a common goal: to make a charitable impact in their nation through fashion.  Although the native designers may have different ideas and styles and work independently from each other, coming together for such a wide-scale, international event gave them all a great sense of Haitian pride and national unity.  As David Andre said, “It was such a great, great experience to have Haitian designers all on the same runway.”

For more information on Haiti Fashion Week or need some advice regarding styling, please contact me at  I will be posting some of your questions in a Q & A feature soon!  (If you would like your name to be kept anonymous, or would prefer not to have your question published, that is fine. Just specify this in your email.)

Until next time,


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

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!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 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 I would love to hear your feedback!

Until next time,