Thursday, June 28, 2012

Inspiration: Stella Jean

As I develop my one-woman show, Ache What Make, I continue to be inspired by aesthetics of resourcefulness, ever-present in the creative output of the Haitian Diaspora. The Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2012 collection jerks my collar. The juxtaposition of head wrap bouquets, boyish button-down shirts and flamboyant wax print skirts nods to a time-honored Caribbean sensibility.

Jean is a mixed-race Italian-Haitian woman in her thirties. She makes it clear in a candid interview: her hyphenated identity informs her confident designs.  

Creole, clever, cool. 
Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean.

I love the colorful interplay between demure and décolleté, linear and circular, formal and relaxed. Even as she conjures the costume compromises of the colonized, Jean achieves cohesive looks for boundary-blurring women.  

Backstage at Rome's Haitian Embassy, Jean talks about her influences. I don't speak Italian (yet) but I recognize the word "Ayiti."


From Stella Jean's "Still a Goddess" collection for Fashion-ABLE Haiti.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Inspiration: Fiona Live

Last night, I had a date to see the mighty, moving and mysterious Fiona Apple at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA. Wow! It was one of the most brilliant, brazen, bizarre & beautiful concerts I have ever seen. She's Sylvia Plath, Edith Piaf, Wednesday Adams, Janis Joplin and Minerva rolled into an unforgettable sonic force. I was mesmerized by her shifting self: a percussive performance poet in a shiny gown, growling gospel warnings to whimpster exes; an angular yogini mouthing urgent, vexed gibberish; a wide-eyed, wounded child, cowering beside a grand piano, playing her slight thighs like a keyboard; a tongue-in-cheek criminal, squirming behind the microphone, daring us to sing along. Her clunky boots combated the stage (say a prayer for the knees). She dragged her voice through the mud then nailed a note so clean, so high, the audience stopped breathing. Even from my balcony seat, I felt like she was staring.

She had me at Tidal.
By now you already know: there's a new album with a long title and a USA tour. Go!