Updated: Oct 21, 2019
HAITIAN BORN DESIGNER DEBUTS LABEL AT NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
By: Alexandra Spirer
From Haiti to Hanoi to Manhattan, it’s a dream come true for designer Jovana Benoit, who will debut her inspired collection, Jovana Louis, next month at New York Fashion Week. Combining her Caribbean heritage with the vibrant aesthetic of Vietnam, where she does much of her designing and creates her original prints and fabrications, Jovana is truly a citizen of the world.
The Jovana Louis show will take place on Saturday September 7th, and will close out that day’s presentations by the acclaimed Fashion Gallery, at the Stewart Hotel, Midtown Manhattan.
“There really are no words for how I feel. It’s been my dream to show at New York during Fashion Week, and now it is really happening.” Jovana Louis
To date, Jovana’s designs have caught the attention of supermodels, celebrities and major international magazines. Adriana Lima was featured in Jovana Louis on the cover of Numero Magazine, and one of Jovana’s designs graces the current cover of Harpers Bazaar Vietnam. Other notable names who’ve worn Jovana Louis include actress Melanie Griffith, model Coco Rocha and media personality and author Isha Sesay.
Jovana credits her love of design and tailoring to her grandmother in Haiti who taught her the craft at a young age. Later she moved to Paris to study fashion formally, but it wasn’t until she found herself living in Hanoi that she began to create clothes out of necessity. At five feet ten inches tall, she soon realized there simply were no ready-made clothes in Vietnam that fit her: “I would walk around the Old Quarter [in Hanoi] and see amazing fashion, but I wouldn't be able to buy any of it because of my height. I was simply too tall. So I began designing clothes for myself, using local Vietnamese fabrics and the influences I saw around me. To my surprise, people began complimenting me on what I was wearing and asked where I bought my clothes.”
Eventually, Jovana opened a boutique in Hanoi and the reaction from both locals and the large ex-pat community was immediate and overwhelming.
“Many people assume that because I’m tall my clothes are made only for tall women. That’s not the case. Remember, I design and sell in Vietnam where most people are smaller than I am. In truth, I create for women of all sizes, heights and shapes,” she said.
The Jovana Louis spring/summer 2020 collection will include solids and signature prints in suits, jackets, mini- and full-length dresses. Colors will range from ivory to tangerine to emerald, and inspiration for the season includes the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the transition period of the late 70s into the 80s.