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Why Designer Azede Jean-Pierre Is the Next Big Thing (Just Ask Solange)

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elle fashion

Photo: Courtesy of Azede Jean-Pierre

Countless new designers show during New York Fashion Week each season. But only a handful break through the noise to capture the attention of the press and buyers, who determine which designers get covered and which designers get picked up for retail.

Azede Jean-Pierre is one of the chosen few. Having made her official NYFW debut this past September with a well-received spring 2014 presentation at Milk MADE (and having had a dress from her fall 2013 collection appear on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily a few months earlier), the 24-year-old designer, who originates from Haiti and grew up in Atlanta, has been anointed The Next Big Thing just two seasons after launching her namesake line. And she already counts Solange Knowles and Angie Harmon among her A-list fans.

“Our goal is to design special clothes that a woman can cherish and live in,” said Jean-Pierre, who studied fashion at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) and worked at Ohne Titel and Ralph Rucci before striking out on her own. “Fundamentally they are about cut, color, and proportion, and how I realize that technically.”

For fall 2013, the New York-based designer realized her vision through shapes based on the interlocking forms and segments found in the shells and wings of beetles, along with custom prints and knitwear that utilize a line screen animation that appears to animate as the wearer moves. For spring 2014, she was inspired by the idea of playing God and becoming Mother Nature. The result is a sleek-yet-playful collection of modern, curvilinear separates printed with colorful bugs and sea animals.

We talked with Azede Jean-Pierre about how she got from there to here.

Photo: Alena Soboleva

What was the original idea behind your label?

Growing up, I always felt I had a unique perspective. My influences are very broad, as far as the world, people and society are concerned. Fashion is my chosen form of expression.

Why fashion design for you, as opposed to another form of creative expression?

I think it’s interesting to be able to live in what you create. Your customer has such a strong and personal connection with you and your work since they can own it, wear it and live in it.

Who do you envision as your ideal customer?

An educated woman who knows what she likes. A confident woman who understands fit.

Photo: Alena Soboleva

What makes your collection different from all the other womanswear brands out there?

Our signature cut is unique to the brand. Most of the patterns are developed in-house, and it is an exploration of form and pattern cutting.

What did you learn while working at Ohne Titel that you’ve brought to your own design or business process?

I learned “cool” at Ohne Titel. They have a strong belief and confidence in their uniquely cool aesthetic. Their signature cut is a fit that women can live in. I cherish a pair of pants that [co-designer] Flora gave me at the end of my time there. They are so special yet livable that they are now a part of my daily uniform—they almost define my personal style.

How did you come to dress Solange Knowles and Angie Harmon and what celebrity would you love to see in AJP?

For both of them we sent looks to stylists. I would love to see Michelle Williams, Keira Knightly and Kerry Washington in AJP!

What was your first NYFW experience like?

It was very exciting showing during NYFW and we were elated to have the opportunity to show with Milk MADE. They have a very supportive program and we are grateful to have been a part of it. It was also rewarding to see our vision finally realized. We had been working on it for such a long time that the show allowed us to exhale a bit.

Photo: Alena Soboleva

How do you see the brand evolving in the future?

We see ourselves pushing our signature cut, and growing with our customer. We also hope to be carried in more of our target stores.

What will we

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