On the evening of Friday, February 23, 2018, the Embassy of Haiti, in collaboration with DC Fashion Week, hosted an exclusive fashion designers showcase entitled Diplomacy by Design. The evening celebrated and featured the work of internationally-acclaimed Haitian-American designers, and offered the Washington, DC community a glimpse into the creative talents and contributions of Haiti in the world of fashion.
The first of its kind, the event brought together a global audience of dignitaries, Haitian-American celebrities, and fashionistas for an evening of fashion and diplomacy. Notable attendees included: Pierre Garçon, Haitian-American wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League; Andre Berto, Haitian-American professional boxer and two-time former welterweight world champion; Valery Numa, Haitian journalist and filmmaker; Brittany Lewis, Miss Black America. A multitude of press representatives were also present on the occasion, including journalists from Fox 5, Council Magazine, Fashion Avenue News Magazine, Washington Life Magazine, Washington Pageant Entertainment, News Channel 8, The Washington Diplomat, Washington City Paper, Voice of America, and The Washington Informer.
The event showcased fashion designs and luxurious styles from four notable Haitian-American fashion designers who simultaneously pay homage to classic tailoring and their Haitian heritage: Prajje Jean-Baptiste, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Victor Glemaud, and Azede Jean-Pierre.
Presented in the opulent grand ballroom of the Haitian Embassy featuring walls covered with paintings of Haiti’s most revered artists spanning centuries of cultural significance, the runway portion of the show began with Victor Glemaud, a fashion industry veteran who worked in Paris and New York for brands like Versace, Marc Jacobs and Helmut Lang before launching his own label. One of the 2017 finalists for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)/Vogue Fashion Fund, an annual competition in which the winners are awarded monetary prizes and invaluable business mentorship from CFDA members and Vogue editors, Glemaud’s vibrant knitwear line was prominently showcased by both female and male models who delighted the crowd.
Thereafter, Haitian-born, New York-based women’s wear designer Prajje Jean Baptiste introduced his “EZILI” collection, to the sound of traditional Haitian rasin (roots) music. The Ezili collection – which is named in honor of the Vodou priestess of art, romance, love and sex – comprises of original embroidery and beading handmade by Haitian artisan women. The collection captivated the audience as the female models donning its exquisite and colorful floor-length gowns, jumpsuits, and pantsuits strolled through the various spaces accommodating the evening’s guests.
In addition, the Embassy’s library was converted into a fashion showroom for the evening. Womenswear designer Azède Jean-Pierre, whose collections are worn by notable women, including former First Lady of the United States Michele Obama, had a few of her designs on display in the space. Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, whose politically-charged runway shows have taken social issues to the forefront of the fashion industry for several seasons to critical acclaim, also had a few outfits on display. One of Jean-Raymond’s featured outfits was a jacket with the inscription Madichon pou 45, exclusively made for the event.
The Diplomacy by Design showcase was a tremendous success and it contributed to the Embassy’s movement to change the Haiti narrative by showcasing the country’s art, culture, and innovation.