Azede Jean-Pierre designs clothes for the globe trotting, sophisticated free spirit. “I want to move fashion forward,” she told me in an interview.
The Atlanta, Georgia raised designer launched her line in 2012 after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design then moving to New York City, but it’s her unique background that gives Jean-Pierre’s strong vision such deep roots: she’s a refugee from Pestel, Haiti and a first generation American.
“Being native of Haiti, living in suburban America and working in fashion,” she told me, “I’ve seen the world from many different prospectives. I can relate to the marginalized groups in developing countries as well as the world traveler and fashion connoisseur. My brand is the bridge between those cultures.”
One of her goals is to reduce poverty and promote long-term sustainable growth in developing countries by hiring and supporting artisans of marginalized groups. Starting with the SS16 collection (in the slideshow above), she’s working with artisans in developing countries to develop and manufacture aspects of each collections. For example, all of the embroidered Spring styles were produced by female artisans in Haiti.
But the thoughtful threads don’t end there.
“To give back,” said Jean-Pierre, “We partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., the Christian Veterinary Mission in conjunction with the CDC and Humane Society International for Spring 2016 to deliver and administer rabies vaccines to the dogs in Arcahaie, Haiti in October of 2015. We consider it a brand value and plan to continue giving back and keep growing our manufacturing in other under-developed areas like Sudan, Peru, South Africa, Kenya and Indonesia in the near future.”
Another brand value: empowering women. “Innovation in technique is empowering because it allows a women to stand out in the most sophisticated, subtle and refined way,” she explained. Her website furthers this thought: “[T]he line…empowers its customers by providing clothes that speak to her personality, as well as her wants and her needs as a fashion connoisseur.” And it continues beyond aesthetics: “We empower and support our artisans by hiring families from marginalized groups to produce finely crafted commercially viable products to be treasured.”
Such dedication to female strength and beauty is apparent in Jean-Pierre’s designs — the way fabric slips off body slopes, flatters and hugs but doesn’t compress or hide or constrict. The shapes are full and easy but not overwhelming; ruffled but not fussy and sometimes tied up with bows for the sake of a great detail. It’s a reminder that anything sweet and lovely should command no less respect than that which makes up the more typical armor.
When asked the essential Know Your Labels question — What should every woman have? — Azede Jean-Pierre offered up the “fashion answer” first: “pieces that fit amazingly and reflect her personality,” then gave an all-around “life answer” second: “Decisive and straight-forward best friends.”
As for what she thinks the fashion industry needs the most as a whole right now? “Diversity and new perspectives.”
Portrait images photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; Lookbook images from Azede Jean-Pierre.