• Elsie Hernandez

Interview with Extraordinary Fashion Designer Prajje Oscar Jean-Baptiste

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Interview with Extraordinary Fashion Designer Prajje Oscar Jean-Baptiste

Prajje Oscar Jean-Baptiste is not only an extraordinary fashion designer that can also style anyone from high fashion to just dressing them like a boss, but he is also a man with a beautiful soul. I once had an opportunity to watch one of his amazing runway shows and we’ve been connected ever since. Founder and designer of the fashion company, Prajje 1983, who will soon re-brand incorporating an additional children's line. You can see his beautiful collections on his website and you may recently have seen him on SundanceTV showing off his fashion styling skills.

What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

I don’t know if it was something, but growing up with my grandmother being the way she dressed may have a lot to do with me being a designer. Also having our former first lady of Haiti Michele Bennett Duvalier was a big inspiration growing up and she still is my first big Haitian fashion icon.

What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?

I noticed that fashion is not about shows and just dressing people, that it is also a business and at some point, you have to start to make money to support the dream; the brand.

I had a chance to read a little bit about your biography on your website and I know that you graduated from the prestigious Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Can you tell us something that design school does not teach a young designer student, that he or she needs to know?

I believe strongly in education it’s a fact, however, I don't believe that school teaches you how to be a designer. To be a designer, sometimes you have to be a therapist, a make-up artist, and a consumer. It means to be able to grow your brand. You have to know how to see things from on different angle or have to be a diplomat just so you don't burn any bridges. They don't teach you these things in school, you just have to experience them to know what to do in these situations. How would you describe your Prajje 1993, now Prajje Oscar clothing line?

Prajje Oscar is clean and elegant. A lot of my inspiration comes from vintage fashion, I am an old soul and it reflects on my clothing.

What makes you unique from all the other designers?

I believe that my attention to little details, and the fact my clothing reflects my culture is what makes me a unique designer.

Also taken from your biography, I know you were born in Haiti and adopted as a child by beautiful French parents. What fascinates you about your culture and what inspires you to be so involved?

My culture is so rich and it’s almost impossible to say one thing inspires me, however, the colors have a lot of influence on my work. Haiti is so full of talent and as a designer, I want to promote that part of my country. The luxury: the aspect that you don't get to see. The fact that our tailors and artisans can do things that your machine cannot do. These are some serious skills to have, and I want to promote that.

Photos are a courtesy of Prajje Oscar Jean-Baptise

How has your work evolved since you began your own label?

I have gone through so many changes since the day I began my brand and it has grown so much to where I am today. Now people want to know about me, the clothes are now more interesting and the story is more appealing.

What advice would you give to young designers?

Have a plan, don't just make one pillow case and call yourself a designer…No, you are not! Make sure you think about this and be very strategic with everything, because it is true what they say about fashion, “One day you are in and one day you are out”. The last thing you want to do is close that door before you can even get in.

Which celebrity would you like to dress and if any which celebrities have you dressed?

I have dressed Wyclef Jean, Alek Wek for Forbes, Lara Spencer from GMA (Good Morning America). I would like to dress Rihanna at some point, and still Michelle Obama, and my current first Lady.

What are three pieces every woman should have in her wardrobe?

One very nice black dress (or any color of your liking), one pair of amazing shoes, and a clutch bag. The rest you can fill in. Those three pieces, you know that whenever you wear one it doesn't matter the occasion, you are on point.

How important do you think fashion is?

People might not want to believe this, but fashion is important, fashion can actually save a life. Think about every time you are having a bad day and you dress yourself up, suddenly you feel strong and confident. That is a very important thing, also let’s not forget that fashion is a ten billion dollar industry.

I once had the opportunity to watch one of your runway shows and loved it! What has been a highlight in your career?

Being on Good Morning America and my feature in Elle magazine was epic. Recently I found my name written in a Vogue article.

I see you have a beautiful new addition to your family, how has she changed your life and has your work-life balance shifted?

My little princess, yes a complete change. I now have a bigger responsibility and the better I am, the better she will be. The more successful I become, the better it will be for her. So now I am more conscious and more responsible on my decisions. I am no longer building my brand, I am building her brand and preparing for her future. So that changed the game and there is definitely a lot more pressure.

Was there anyone in your family who made you feel like designing?

No one, besides my well dressed grandmother. However, recently I found out that my birth mother was a tailor. I never knew that, perhaps that has something to do with me being a designer…it’s in my DNA.

Who inspires you the most in fashion? Anyone who stands out?

The former First Lady, yes it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. That woman came into the White House and she was herself the entire time. She didn't fail, not even once. She was not just dressed in cute clothing, but beautifully dressed for a first lady and her body type. That’s a big thing in dressing yourself, wearing the right things.

We look forward to seeing more of you, any updates or plans for the future?

Yes, we will be debuting our new brand Prajje Oscar along with the very long anticipating ÈZILI collection, made mostly in Haiti and telling a tale of Haiti. The event will take place on Saturday, June 24th at the Embassy of Haiti in Washington DC.

Follow Prajje Oscar Jean-Baptisteon:

IG: prajjeoscar



I loved this interview. I love culture and I love Prajje Oscar Jean-Baptiste's designs. Thank you for reading. Keep watching out for Prajje he has a unique style and is incredibly talented.

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