Project Runway’s Prajjé Oscar Jean-Baptiste on Growing Up in Haiti and His Namesake Fashion Line
The Philly-based fashion designer has dressed Wyclef Jean, supermodels and Haiti’s first lady.
What I make: “Women’s wear with couture details in a ready-to-wear way.”
My childhood: “Growing up in Haiti when the government was overthrown for the first time was rough. Fashion was my escape.”
On getting started: “When I came to Boston at age 13 to live with my adoptive parents, my mom introduced me to a youth art class at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and from there, I realized I could do this for a living. I worked in New York for 10 years and moved to Philly three years ago.”
Whom I dress: “I’ve dressed the first lady of Haiti, Wyclef Jean, a lot of Haitian artists, supermodels.”
On Haiti’s influence: “My clothes are all about quality, something that is dear to Haitian people. The way I name my colors usually makes reference to Haitian Vodou spirits.”
On Project Runway: “I was expecting to walk into a fashion war zone. It wasn’t that at all. We didn’t make it easy for each other in the competitions, but we respected each other and the work that we created.”
On Haiti disaster relief: “I work with the Haiti Response Coalition. Their approach is based on purchasing goods in Haiti using materials from within the area where they are to rebuild, rather than bringing more stuff into the country that we don’t really need and killing the local economy.”
My industry role model: “André Leon Talley. The first book my mom gave me when I moved to the U.S. was his 2003 memoir.”
Where to buy: Prajjeoscar.com.
Published as “Making It Work” in the November 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.