A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Haitian Designer Grabs the World by the Hemline
By Skye Holly

With spinning spotlights and classic hip-hop music, you might think that you are about to get your dance on in the club just like you would any Friday night.  You are prepared to leave your worries at the door, spend your paycheck at the bar and give yourself over to the music.

The only thing is that although you are at the club, you're not there to well, club, but to watch.  It's Fashion Week in New York City and you have made it past the velvet rope into the Duroseau Spring Collection 2008 show. Held at the TOUCH lounge in Midtown, Duroseau's Spring collection proved to be more than just a night of pumping music and couture, but a mix of a history lesson and partying.

Haitian designer Gerald Bazile's couture line Duroseau well balances both the present and the past.  His designs appear to be something that aims to please both grandmother and granddaughter.

His choice fabrics reflect elegance.  At the same time, they look comfortable.  Where couture gowns tend to be stiff and impractical,  Duroseau's pieces are wearable.  Duroseau showed a lot of soft brocades and shiny taffeta material.  Yes, the same taffeta that comes to mind when you think of a little girl's party dress.  Solid colors draw attention to detailing with lace and brooches.  One evening gown boasted a floral pattern and looked like something crafted from a window curtain, but was cut in such a way I imagined a teenager taking this from her Nana's attic. 

Gerald Bazile's influences are close to home and close to his heart.  Born in Haiti, a country of the West Indies, both his grandmother and mother are the individuals whose sense of fashion first caught his eye.Ã'  Their impeccable skills in sewing and pattern helped to establish his comfort with outfitting and making women feel glamorous.  Bazile's line of formal gowns and wedding dresses are named after his grandmother,  Duroseau, and the line is dedicated to the memory of his twin sister, Geanne, who passed away in 2003. 

The past continues to live through fashion, bridging generations.  Distinct for this season are the hemlines! They show up in extremes and demand to be noticed.  Flirty dresses accentuate the meaning of leg room.  Well above the knee are those elegant pieces, which have a sort of prim and proper tea and crumpet look.  They bring to mind a grandmother spinning away at an old Singer sewing machine.  But the Nas or En Vogue music swelling in the background at TOUCH remind you that this is not your grandmother's dress and that maybe you were the one to alter it.  The other side of the extreme lies with the floor-length gowns.  The modernity to these gowns is expressed by dramatic cuts on the backs of the bodices and sharp, sleeveless lines.

Much of Duroseau's spring 2008 collection doesn't stray too far away from his dependable black and white in terms of color. Yet a few of the gowns embrace royalty with deep reds and gold.  If Duroseau's couture were to talk, it would speak of turning traditions into trends and hopefully speak for generations to come.