NEW JERSEY – Just in time for Haitian Heritage Month, news broke of three Haitian-Americans joining the highest ranks of mainstream fashion tastemakers. Naomi Elizée is the new fashion editor at Vogue, Tarah-Lynn holds the same role at Cosmopolitan and Fabbiola Romain is taking on the associate visual editor position, also at Vogue.
For a profession decidedly different from the health, engineering and legal careers that many Haitian parents have encouraged, the three women’s rise to the top is worth a look.
Fierce and feminine, by design
Elizée, who grew up in Florida, credits her love for fashion to watching her family get dolled up for extravagant Haitian parties. Her mom and aunt’s ability to put together a look that was both fierce and feminine first inspired her. That style, Elizée said, is the “secret weapon” to any woman’s wardrobe.
Inspired, Elizée joined the industry in 2005 as a stylist and designer. Drawn to fashion journalism for its ability to tell stories about people through clothes, Elizée said, she joined Teen Vogue as an associate editor. She then moved on to W Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, i-D Interview and other outlets. Most recently, she served as senior editor at Complex Media.
Teaching others to put their best foot – and self – forward
As the new fashion editor at Cosmopolitan, Tarah-Lynn Saint-Elien “brings her unique style to all of our fashion coverage,” the iconic publication declares in its announcement. She has X years of experience in fashion journalism, an eye for trends and panache for doling out fashion tips or life advice.
Previously, Saint-Elien was the The Haitian Times’ style editor. In the role, she curated articles on the latest fashion trends. Source: Cosmopolitan.com
Q&A with Fabbiola Romain
Fabbiola has loved fashion from a very young age. It’s not surprising that she has landed at Vogue, one of the top fashion brands of the world.
Romain spent time with The Haitian Times for a quick Q&A, edited for clarity and length.
THT: Tell us about your path to this role, as Black woman and Haitian-American.
FR: [Takes deep breath.] The journey here was far from easy. As a first generation Haitian-American, the Fashion industry was outside the acceptable and expected career path. I landed my first role in 2013, working across different titles, such as Oprah Magazine and Cosmopolitan. After three years, I knew it was time to actively search for the dream that was destined for me. I had many interviews and what felt like hundreds of rejections.
I took each rejection as an opportunity and continued to be persistent and determined. In 2017, I accepted a position I knew would guide me closer to my ultimate goal. After two years, I became the first Black Haitian-American on my team and in my current role.
I am proud to represent my culture and connect with others to ensure the space in fashion has a place for us.
THT: Highlight of your career so far?
FR: I think the highlights in my career continue to change as I evolve. For now, I would say meeting and working with talented counterparts, producing iconic covers and attending the annual Met Gala for sure!
THT: What do you hope to achieve in this role, and how will you do it?
FR: As the fashion world changes constantly, I plan to pursue more opportunities as they present themselves. I also want to continue to chase my dream and never feel complacent. As I carry on my position currently, I plan on putting myself in uncomfortable situations to elevate as an editor and continue to work hard.
THT: What do you value most about growing up Haitian?
FR: The things that remind me of my culture. I think about almost all the memes that joke about being Haitian. Strict teachings from my childhood allowed me to grow in character and value unintentional lessons on boundaries. I realize those experiences helped shape me into the woman I am today, who I am becoming and will be.
THT: Ok, now let’s do a lightning round. Say the first thing that comes to mind..
THT: Fave Haitian Food
FR: My mom’s Legume and white rice! Lambi and fritay. All of ’em! LOL
THT: Fav Haitian Song
FR: Plenty! But for this purpose, Mikaben – Ayiti Se.
THT: Fave Haitian saying or proverb
FR: “Woch nan dlo pa konnen mizè woch nan soley” which translates to “the rock in water does not know the suffering of the rock in the sun.”
THT: Greatest wish for Haiti
FR: We “Haitian People” are resilient! Our history shows it and our present proves it! My greatest wish for Haiti is to return to what it once was, where others who may not know the Haiti I know can experience the true culture we always speak of. This wish is for me also to learn some of the beauty of Haiti that I have not had the opportunity to see and experience.