By Walter Greene
Fashion designer Donna Karan has been going to Haiti every month since 2010 when the hurricane ravished the Caribbean island. She's been very instrumental in promoting and marketing Haitian wares, working closely with Haitian artist Philippe Dodard, which resulted in the tribal prints used in her collection for last spring. The noted designer filmed her new spring advertising campaign in Jacmel, a southern town in Haiti, featuring Brazilian supermodel Adrianna Lima. Donna released her new spring line of high heeled sandals highlighted by tall wooden heels with Zulu like carvings that recall the totem poles and traditional masks of Haiti, this specialized handiwork has also been seen in her ready-to-wear and accessories.
Part of the proceeds of the collection benefit the artisans of Haiti and Donna has joined forces with the Bill Clinton Initiative and Sean Penn. Donna founded a charity to bring support to the ravaged country called `Hope Help & Rebuild Haiti' mainly to bring awareness to the art and design talents of the country. In June Veuve Cliquot chose her charity as the beneficiary of its annual Polo Classic. At the event, Donna Karan showcased the work of Haitian artists, as her focus has been to help Haitians help themselves through creative business development, something she's been working on with the Bill Clinton Foundation. Still, she received criticism for her work with Haiti, as some skeptics question her intentions, stating that she's using the country and their artists for her own ulterior motives.
A PERSONAL PASSION
"For me Haiti is where all the initiatives I care so passionately about came together, preserving culture, securing the health....Haiti is my creative inspiration, bringing my two worlds together. The spring advertising campaign infuses the vibrant spirit of Haiti into a sexy New York sophistication." Haiti has definitely become a personal passion for Donna and through the Bill Clinton Initiative she's been able to micro finance loans for the artisans and exposure for their other works. An exhibition was held in Washington DC, with all the proceeds from sales of Haitian accessories, clothing and home decor through Donna Karan's Urban Zen Foundation go back to the country.
Donna Karan's wedge heeled ankle-wrap sandals from her Haitian inspired art collection