The time has come to commence a new series on Kreyolicious.com. This time, we shall look at fashion history, and fashion moments in Haiti. This segment will concentrate on the 1910s decade. Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston who visited Haiti in the early 1900s, would later write this in his book The Negro in the New World (1910) about his observations of fashions in Haiti:
That they have a sense of beauty from the highest to the lowest the to the president of the Cercle de Port au Prince is evident from the of sites for their villas or villages the arrangement of trees and flowering around their habitations the breeding of peacocks these beautiful birds abundant in many Haitian towns and hamlets and the dress and adornments of the peasantry.
He further observed:
As to the dress of the two hundred thousand educated though less exotic than it was it is still as in Liberia a worship of the hat and frock coat. In the streets of Port-au-Prince as of Monrovia in a 95 degrees in the shade and something under boiling point in the you may see Haitian statesmen cavorting about in black silk hats of portentous height and glossiness with frock coats down to their knees and wearing lemon kid gloves The peasantry show originality taste and a real sense of appropriateness in their costume The educated people in their passionate admiration of France do not even dress as do the very sensible French colonists of the French West Indies or of Africa but wear what they believe to be the last fashion of Paris.
A farmer and his rooster on his way to the market, and perhaps to a cock fight? Ah, a man-dress, accessorized with a straw hat. Street fashion at its best.
Let’s take a look at the lady at the center this photo, taken in 1916. What a pose on that donkey. Aspiring models do take note. Let us look at her sweeping skirt, and the fine material from which her dress is made. Her head is wrapped with a scarf and a hat is place on top of the scarf to make certain the tropical sun is blocked from pouring directly into her face. And notice too, the other fashionistas in the background with their head wraps, thin waistlines and sweeping hemlines. And may I also bring your attention to the glamorous dame with her shawl on her shoulder?
Nord Alexis and his entourage in the early 1910s. They are uniformed in military regalia. Long, pointy-ended mustaches were the norm during that decade—apparently. See how fashionable one of those types look on the president?
And here’s Antoine Simon, a president of Haiti, whose resignation came in 1911. A clean cut mustache is the way to go. His hair is practically low-cut and he looks rather debonair and handsome with his salt-and-pepper hair. Oh, and look at his single-breasted suit! So elegant and accessorized with a handkerchief in the breast pocket.
Ah, Rose Anselinette Durand! What style! She was the wife of Tancrede Auguste and Haiti’s First Lady from August 8, 1912 to May 2, 1913. Her style is obviously very conservative, with a low-key sweeping of the hair, and up-to-the-collar neckline.
There’s no better indication of what was in vogue in an era than a family photo. On family photo day, most tend to wear their best. Here, we present you with the Lauture family of Jacmel in a photo taken circa 1919. Elvire Lafontant Lauture, the family matriarch—seated in the middle– has her hair parted in the middle. Her blouse is elaborate but modest. Her skirt has rows of embroidery. Justin Lauture, the father, dons a well-tailored suit, and his hair is cut to a medium level. And let’s take a moment to admire the shoe game of this family! The little girl in the front has a shiny pair of boots on. They don’t look masculine, and are topped off with black laces. And the hair! It’s padded down, looks like with gel or with a sort of pomade. They are about to go into the flapper era, after all! The young man standing has a nice suit on. The suit jacket appears to be made from tweed and the pants of linen. When one looks like his younger male siblings, one sees how much more juvenile-like they are dressed. Their shirts have ruffles and is practically indistinct from girl clothes, but apparently that was the style in those days.
This concludes Kreyolicious.com’s overview of fashions in Haiti in the 1910s. Tune in for the next installment!