Video: Vania Andre, Photos: Fabiola Jean

By: Melissa P. Bernier

“Let’s bring couture to Haiti!” The moment he spoke those words, they became reality.

For the first time since leaving Haiti as a young child, Prajje Jr. Jean-Baptiste, founder of fashion company Prajje 1983, will return to Haiti to debut his latest collection in an exhibition entitled L’Art de la Mode.  A man with a great deal of vision, Prajje started his company in 2003 with the goal of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry, and he is well on his way to seeing that goal come to fruition.

A leading exemplar of ethnic-inspired fashion, Prajje says that in designing, Haiti is always in the background.  His use of vibrant colors, his exquisite cut, and his use of texture and body-worshipping fabrics not only allow those who wear his clothes to look and feel confident but also serve as a homage to his native country, Haiti.

Prajje is no stranger to hard work and dedication.  This is evident in his successful completion of numerous runway shows both here in the United States and internationally.  Shows such as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (New York), Color Revolution (St. Maarten), Arise Fashion Week (Nigeria), Faces of Africa Fashion Week (Nigeria) and Boston Fashion Week take months of planning and preparation.  What the public sees as a five or ten-minute fashion show is actually the culmination of almost a year’s worth of preparation.  Having these accomplishments under his belt, Prajje will now shift his focus from shows to creating clothes that his customers can afford and cherish.

Speaking of customers – model Alek Wek, Good Morning America anchor Lara Spencer, Fox News Anchor Sara Underwood, Haitian celebrity chef Manouschka Guerrier and Wyclef Jean are among the celebrities that have worn Prajje 1983 designs.  Additionally, Prajje and his designs have been featured in Elle Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and on Good Morning America.  Prajje was also a personality on Sundance Channel’s show, On the Line.

I had the pleasure of hosting Prajje at my first installment of Cocktails and Conversations.  What struck me most about him was his humility and quiet confidence.  He credits his success to his team – which includes a manager, financial advisor and attorney – and speaks of success as a journey more so than a destination.  He is the perfect combination of business (as he says, “I’ve got my mind on my money and my money on my mind”) and artistic creativity.

Prajje’s exhibition, L’Art de la Mode, is set to take place on December 28th at the famed Galerie d’art Nader in Petion-Ville, Haiti.  A collection of Prajje’s line spanning from 2003 to the current “Antilaise” collection, this show is highly anticipated among the fashion community both here and in Haiti.  There is no doubt that Prajje will make his mark on his beloved Haiti, in a way that will change the face of fashion forever.

When asked what is next, Prajje excited says “dressing first ladies!” Sophia Martelly and Michelle Obama should take heed – anything Prajje speaks into existence immediately comes true.

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