By Swoan Parker
For anyone who loves fashion, an announcement of Fashion Week brings to mind runways in New York, Paris, and Milan, but never Haiti.Β So when my editor requested that I cover Haitiβs first Fashion Week, I was pretty intrigued.
I immediately began researching Haitian designers who live and produce their creations on the island.Β I first contacted Michel Chataigne, who I learned was very accomplished in his own right, having shown internationally and with his ready-to-wear lines already selling in major U.S. stores.
Michel is a charismatic person and we clicked immediately. I first visited his atelier, which is home to his beauty school. Michel’s career first began in hair, and he is one of Haiti’s best known hair designers. Michel then put me in contact with fellow designers David AndrΓ© and Giovanna Menard.
I met David in his studio, which is a small space in a section of his family’s home. David, like Michel, has shown his creations internationally, but expressed frustration with he lack of support for the craft in his native country. He believes that the arts are seen as a hobby by the majority, instead of a legitimate profession.
Because Haitian designers don’t receive the same brand recognition as their international counterparts, it seems difficult to get a strong foothold here. The segment of the population that has the purchasing power to afford designer brands will most often travel out of the country to purchase them, even if at a higher price.