What will Michelle Obama and thousands of Haitian schoolchildren have in common? They’ll have been dressed by Azede Jean-Pierre. The 30 Under 30 philanthropist and fashion designer designed both Michelle Obama’s dress for her Essence cover and is designing uniforms for Haitian elementary schools.
Though Azede Jean-Pierre only lived in Haiti for the first six years of her life, her origins from the isolated village of Pestel define her as much as her signature bug-embroidered prints. Six years after immigrating to Atlanta, Georgia, Jean-Pierre began to pencil dresses into the margins of coursework at Whitefoord Elementary School. While the other kids drew Dragon Ball-Z characters, 12-year-old Azede Jean-Pierre drew dresses—obsessing over the form, fit and silhouette—designing for Haiti.
“Fashion and philanthropy go hand-in-hand. It’s really about impact—impacting communities and women and culture,” Jean-Pierre says with a smile, sitting outside Brooklyn Fare, the grocery store in Manhattan’s Garment District with a three-Michelin star restaurant behind the cheese section. She’s taking a moment between apartment and fabric showings, wearing a white stilt gauze overlaid linen skirt and knit ottoman-rib pullover top from her 2017 namesake label spring-summer collection. “I’m inspired by women who live in this world where they don’t have to impress anyone. I want to design for them because they are impressive already.”