The day I decided to take on this project, I realized that there was a lot I didn’t know about my country. I’ll be the first to speak about my ignorance and my lack of knowledge about the Fashion industry, especially it’s status in Haiti.
Fashion World in Haiti
In his most recent interview with BBC, Michel Chataigne— eminent designer and Fashion Week coordinator spoke on how he thinks Haiti can become the fashion capital of the Caribbean.
“Michel Chataigne has made a name for himself in the fashion world well beyond his native Haiti.
Among the glamorous and influential fashion hubs of the world, Haiti may not be an obvious contender.
But the Caribbean nation, famed for its vibrant art, is home to a bold and progressive slew of designers on a crusade to turn that around.
The burgeoning industry is epitomised in the annual Haiti Fashion Week which this year will mark its sixth edition.
From the brilliant hues of the pervasive voodoo religion to the shapes inspired by indigenous dance, Haiti’s rich culture is woven into the fabric and forms of the garments.
And that, says eminent designer and Fashion Week coordinator Michel Chataigne, makes them unique.
“Haiti’s fashion is very different from other countries’ – it’s about colour and volume with lots of ruffles,” he tells the BBC.” — Gemma Handy
Their passion for fashion
Turns out, Michel Chataigne isn’t the only one who wishes to put Haiti on the Map. Based on what David André had to say, so does he.
“My dream is to take over the fashion world as Yves Saint Laurent did in Paris and to be known internationally as a Haitian fashion designer,” he says. “If I make it to the top, Haiti will be on the world map.”
Born in Port-au-Prince to parents who owned a clothing store, Mr André dreamed of a career in fashion since he was a child growing up inspired by greats like Gaultier, Versace and Lagerfeld. He later studied his craft at a local school before heading to Paris to learn draping and pattern-making.
“I love to create new concepts, to play with fabrics and colours. It’s pure pleasure to wake up in the morning and go to work with so much passion,” he continues.
Haiti’s Very Own
When I came across this article about Haiti, Fashion Week and the Fashion industry being on the up— it made me reflect on the many individuals who are out there striving— that we know almost nothing about. I got to read about a couple designers, their dreams, their work— even saw a couple of familiar faces amongst the models. Which makes me a hundred times more excited to share this article with you guys.
Meet, Ghaël Jean Louis, Fashion model and professional fitness trainer.
Ghaël Jean Louis
Muhreah: I am so glad and feel so honored that you’ve agreed to this interview. Although some may already think that they know who you are and what you do— could you please introduce yourself to our readers, who is Ghaël Jean Louis?
Ghaël J. L: First of all, I want to say Thank you Muhreah for the invite, it is a pleasure for me to have this interview with you.
My name is Ghael Jean Louis, I am 24 years old— I am a professional fitness trainer and fashion model. I was born and raised in Haiti and I live in the country’s capital, Port Au Prince. Aside from modeling, I spend most of my time doing a variety of activities. Since I’m a fitness addict, I’ll do some sort of physical exercise on the daily (jogging, hiking, soccer, swimming, physical conditioning at the gym and motorcycle racing). I’m also a Political Sciences student at Université Quisqueya, where I’m majoring in International Relations. I also like to spend time with my family, go out to night events with my friends, attend fashion and art galas, go to the beach, travel and do some sightseeing.
Muhreah: What or rather who has influenced you to pursue a career in the modeling industry?
Ghaël J. L: It started out as having random photoshoots for the fun of it with some friends. I used to post some of my favorite shots. In 2015, I one day received an offer from a Haitian shirt brand by the name of “Loko Nation“. I had a photoshoot with them which lasted for about an hour. I was trying on different merchs, posing for the camera, joked and laughed with the crew here and there. Overall, I had a great time. The pictures looked good and I got paid for the time I spent modeling.
It really just seemed to me that maybe I could have some potential in the domain. Later in that same year, I received an invite to the “Haiti Fashion week” casting. I went and was picked amongst some other models. The night after, there I was—for the first time of my life, walking the runway wearing different designer sets.
I got to meet some important and influential people in the industry, David Andre was one of them. He is a Haitian fashion designer who at the time told me that with more work I could be one of the best models in the industry. We stayed in contact and he eventually became my manager.
From that point on, he pushed me to keep improving and looked hard to help me find modeling jobs in and out of Haiti.
Muhreah: How meaningful has modeling been to your life? What drives you to keep modeling?
Ghaël J. L: Modeling has without a doubt influenced the person that I am today. In the sense that, all of the experiences I’ve gained while being a male model improved my confidence. And to me, that’s an important trait for a person to obtain in order to remain positive and motivated. I am still a model because I like changing into the different characters. To me, modeling is like acting— each picture has a story to tell.
Muhreah: What do you think is your greatest strength, as a model?
Ghaël J. L: My greatest strengths as a model are definitely my toned figure and beard, haha.
Muhreah: What is your greatest weakness, as a model? What are you doing to improve on it?
Ghaël J. L: My greatest weakness must be my catwalk, it’s okay now as result of training but I had and still have to practice my walk from time to time.
Muhreah: How do you maintain your figure? Do you happen to have any guilty pleasures— food wise?
Ghaël J. L: Keeping my figure consists mainly of two things:
1) Being active every day.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I usually dedicate a part of my day to sports and physical exercises. Usually around 1 to 2 hours per day.
2) Trying to eat natural (less processed and greasy food) and drinking tons and tons of water.
As for my guilty pleasure, it’s definitely chocolate. Chocolate is my all time weakness, I simply can’t resist it—no matter the form. Candy bars, ice cream, cereal etc…
Muhreah: Would you say that modeling is fun? What are two positive things you can honestly say you’ve learned within the modeling industry?
Ghaël J. L: Modeling is fun, yes. In the sense that you get to do so many different things from project to project. However, keep in mind that it can also be a stressful career as it comes with responsibilities and expectations. You have to always look good or you’re giving a chance to the competitor so he could get your spot. I’ve definitely learned a lot from modeling, two of the most valuables lessons would be that:
- You have to learn to love and appreciate yourself with both your positive traits and imperfections.
- You have to learn from your mistakes and you absolutely have to stay positive.
Muhreah: What are your goals as a model?
Ghaël J. L: One of my goals as a model is to feature in ads for big international sport brands. For example a brand like Nike. Wow, that would be a dream come true.
Muhreah: When was the last time you’ve worked among a diverse group of people? Have you participated in any modeling competitions?
Ghaël J. L: I was elected as Mister Haiti 2019 and participated at the Mister International, the most known male beauty pageant in the world. The competition was held in Manila Philippines, during the month of February 2019. For ten days, I was living, traveling and working amongst models from all around the world.
Muhreah: How did you feel about having to represent your homeland in a modeling competition?
Ghaël J. L: It was an honor to be a symbolic image of my country. Every time fans saw me in public or on stage they would cheer me on by shouting out “Haiti, Haiti, Haiti” and it made feel so proud, knowing that all my hard was not in vain.
Muhreah: When entering a new competition or even a modeling gig, do you have any trouble adjusting or building relationships with your fellow models— or do you just focus on the task at hand and enjoy the journey?
Ghaël J. L: I’m very friendly. Therefore, I always try to make some new friends during the gig. It does relieve some of the stress. Having people you are able to conversate with definitely keeps you relaxed.
Muhreah: When you visit other countries, how exactly do you maintain a balance between staying focused and letting loose— or taking the time to explore your whereabouts?
Ghaël J. L: Well, during the pageants— every single day is planned out from 8 AM to 8-9 PM or even midnight— on some rare occasions. They arrange all the sponsor visits, sightseeing, photoshoots, etc. Our only job is to follow the schedule. The free time we get are usually early mornings, (which is dedicated to working out before heading to breakfast) and the day before the final, where everyone has the day off to do as they please.
Muhreah: Is there anyone you look up to in the modeling industry?
Muhreah: What’s next for Ghaël Jean Louis?
Ghaël J. L: To keep on improving my physique, working on my modeling portofolio and adding to my list of experiences. I am also aiming to get certified as a fitness trainer.
Muhreah: What is an advice you would like to provide to any of our readers— or any individual who’s into modeling?
Ghaël J. L: To anyone who’s passionate about modeling, I say pursue your dream. Learn which type of modeling suits your look and physique, best. There will be lots of tough times as it’s not an easy sector to breakthrough— but don’t give up, the key to success is perseverance.
There you have it. I hope you guys have enjoyed this article as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Thank you guys for your unconditional support and your amazing feedback. Until next time.
This was, “Mr. International: Ghaël Jean Louis” written by, Muhreahwrites.