Move over, Donna Karan. Haiti has a new fashion advocate in Stella Jean and, to be fair, she has first rights.
Jean, whose mother was raised in Haiti, made the country the main subject of her vivid multicultural eclectic aesthetic, defined by Fifties and Sixties shapes and mismatched prints. The latter were patterns inspired by art-naïf-style depictions of Haitian life — women at the market, balancing baskets of fruit on their heads, or the local “tap-tap” buses — worn as an embroidered satin A-line skirt, a structured trapeze jacket or a loose maxi shirtdress. Crafty jewelry, such as a collar dangling with gold balls and festive collage necklaces, was made by Haitian artisans. Styling was maximal even when there was a blatant bid for balance and a street connection, as in the Port-au-Prince sports jerseys that opened the show.
This was a collection of pieces for the kooky luxury customer who can’t live without attention. Even so, it goes without saying that such a visual collision of color, texture and extreme-novelty prints is best presented in relatively straightforward or classic silhouettes, lest it descend into caricature. Fortunately, Jean’s line was just charming enough to avoid such a fate.