|Picture by Vincent Chine|
Refined and creative, his new collection will surely turn heads. Although I worked with him for just over 3 years, I am always pleasantly surprised by what he has to offer. His next show shares the name one of Haiti's most beautiful neighborhood: Kenscoff. Located about 10 km South West of Port au Prince, Haiti, this town is distinguished by its high altitude (approximately 1500 meters), its prestigious aspect and finally, for its cooler temperature. When I first saw the name for the show, my initial thought was: "Well yes! Kenscoff! It's a highly located prestigious city! Ralph Leroy will present us with a prestigious collection which will be an even better upgrade from his previous ensembles". However, this man's thoughts are always a mystery and I knew there was something deeper behind the whole event. The show promises to be out of the ordinary as it will feature 3 famous Haitian models/celebrities (Sarodj Bertin: Miss Haiti Universe 2010, Nayeli Fanfan: Best Female Model of the World 2012 and model Kiki Barth), Eddy Toussaint's "Ballets of Montreal" and a performance from the dance group "Ekspresyon".
I just HAD to get an exclusive interview from the man himself. It was a must!
Sass: Why did you choose to use the name Kenscoff? And why did you choose to have ballet: What relates both of them?
Ralph: Well Kenskoff is a place that brings me many good memories. It is bittersweet because although it's a place that reminds me of many good times in my life, I also experienced hell there. After spending almost 10 years out of my country, it's a way for me to forgive my kidnaping attempt...It's a way to move on and it's a way for me to go back to my roots and be reconnected to my country. In other words, I wanted to take the positive side of my country (Haiti) & demonstrate the best my country has to offer.
To me, Kenskoff is a magical place in haiti. It is beautiful and is also full of contradictions: This is how I created the harmony of that contrast through my new collection. This is my 5th year coming back to Montreal Fashion Week and I needed to unleash my beast: Kenskoff.
I alway was into the classical side of areas such as music, dance and poetry. In the past, I have worked with different ballet companies in Haiti doing things like as acting, artistic directing etc. and also, I've always had a passion for dance and music. Furthermore, art has always been a part of my life and through Kenscoff, you will see the harmony between two different genres of dance as they will unite with one type of music.
S: Interesting! So basically you wanted to demonstrate variety without necessarily relating Kenscoff to the ballet?
R: Nothing relates Kenscoff to the ballet...but Leroy has to always do things differently by mixing beauty and exaggeration.
S: Yes...that I know!
R: I would call it the designer fantasy...I always go for what is different and unique. That way, people will remember it.
Sass: Without giving it away, what is different about this collection? Can we get a little preview?
Ralph: To give you a little preview, I would tell you that this season, I am going more towards metal colors mixed with brighter colors. Revised classical pieces...and did I mention gowns? And straw dresses? Oh and did you know about the Congo skirts I will showcase? And get ready for a new leather bag collection...and Leroy's new look! I have a lot to offer this season. You will finally discover what I've had in store for awhile.
S: OH LAWD
R: I'm back stronger and wiser! Not crazier though just....better.
Sass: What have you been up to since the last time you did Montreal Fashion Week?
Ralph: Since the last Montreal Fashion Week, I've taken a lot of time for myself. Life has been upside down and I really needed some "me" time. However, I can't lie: I never stopped working hard. My job is my favourite drug!
Sass: What made you choose these 3 foreign models?
Ralph: Oh this is a long story. Some friends recommended them to me in order to give them a "push". I have been following them for a long time! First I followed Sarodj, then Nayeli and Kiki. I identify a little bit of myself in each one of them as they are fighters: I admire them for that. They are strong and by observing them, you might even get the feeling that they are bulletproof. Love them or hate them, you will always have to deal with them as they stay focused and will STILL be in your face.
I just love them...I love their energy, their strength and what I love the most is that wherever they go, they proudly represent Haiti. I might be a designer that is known and loved in Canada, but I will be always known as the "Haitian guy", the "Immigrant" or the "Black guy". I proudly embrace and cherish who I am and so do these 3 models. They are young, smart and fresh...full of personality and confidence. Of course these had to be my girls!
Sass: Anything else you'd like to add?
Ralph: Yes! I would like to add that I have a great surprise this season with a new face that I will introduce to Montreal and her name is Vanessa Nicolas: She is just beautiful inside and out. (See Sass notes at the end of the article). I would also like to take the time to publicly thank my friend Madeline Ledan who is a top designer who traveled from Haiti to Montreal to fully live the Kenscoff experience with me.
A big thank you to my fans and family who never stopped supporting my craziness and continued to love me and what I do. A big thanks to you Sarah...it's been 5 years since I have known you and you always whole heartedly showed loved and support. I still remember when you offered to help me out and although I said no, you insisted until I said yes! I admire your persistence in life: Whatever you want, you go for it and grab it. You are a real Kenscoff girl.
S: **Speechless** Thank you Ralph!
Don't Kenscoff during Montreal Fashion Week!
When: February 5th at 8:30 p.m.
Sass notes: Vanessa Nicolas is one of my best friends. It was always her dream to be a model and I never doubted her: She is sooooooo beautiful! Before the interview, I thanked Ralph for giving her the opportunity to make her dream come true by encouraging her and casting her in her shows. I wish her the very best and I know she is going to KILL IT! She is the next big thing in Montreal, watch out for her! I love you Vanoush!
|Vanoush modeling for Ralph Leroy in the rain in Summer of 2012|