From New York to Haiti, Fashion Week 2013 has its share of talented Haitian designers, models -- and even a celebrity manicurist.
NEW YORK, NY – The fall fashion season opened last week, during New York’s Fashion Week 2013.
Nailing the Runway
For Haiti native Myrdith Leon-McCormack, one of the industry’s top celebrity manicurists, it was an opportunity to work with some innovative brands like Steve Alan and Concept Korea, while she covered some runway shows for the Huffington Post.
The beauty industry veteran has worked with some of the world’s most renowned celebrities, from iconic supermodels Iman, Beverly Johnson and Naomi Campbell, to household name actors Kate Hudson, Uma Thurman, Idris Elba, Sarah Jessica Parker, and music divas Beyonce and Eartha Kitt.
“My mom instilled in us simple principles: to work hard, love God and family,” McCormack said. “But I always wanted more. I would post magazine pictures of Iman, Beverly Johnson…and now I’ve worked with Iman; I’ve worked with Beverly Johnson. I get to work with the women I used to post on my walls. It doesn’t get any better than that. I’m living a dream!”
McCormack broke into fashion through her mentor Peter Brown. She had been working as a manicurist at a high-end black-owned hair salon in Harlem, when one of her clients, who was so impressed with her technique, decided to write about her in Black Elegance magazine (it no longer exists). Soon thereafter, McCormack was doing her first photo-shoot with R&B group For Real.
“Peter became very instrumental in my career path,” McCormack said. “I shadowed him for five years… I was groomed to work with photographers, editorial campaigns. He taught me how to act, how to communicate on set. He took me to my first fashion week, where he introduced me to Bradley Curry.”
Curry would become McCormack’s first agent. But before signing her, he sent her on a shoot for Almay, where she impressed the team. From then on, Curry started sending McCormack to numerous shoots, for top brands like Estee Lauder and De Beers, along with the industry’s top magazines, including Glamour and Vogue.
“You flip through a magazine, it all looks so glamorous, but you don’t know what it takes to produce…once I became a staple to a production, that’s how my career took off, and I haven’t been in a salon for over 10 years.”
The flexible schedule affords McCormack time to raise her three children — and also provided her with the ability to launch a nail polish line, m2m damoreJon.
After the 2010 earthquake McCormack partnered with Melky Jean on a signature polish called “Kompa” inspired by the singer’s golden brown skin. The proceeds from sales went to the Melky Jean Foundation’s Haiti relief efforts. It was an opportunity for her to celebrate her Haitian roots, while giving back to a worthy cause.
“I believe that you can accomplish what you set your mind to, within reason, but you have to pay a toll. There’s no free ride. I sacrificed and lost along the way. There has to be clarity of one’s view of success. Money was not my goal, my goal was to be the best manicurist.”
With a kiss at the end of Desigual’s Spring 2014 showcase, Anderson Noel stole the show.
The Haitian-born model was raised outside Boston, Massachusetts, with a dream to become a basketball player in the NBA. But many people thought he was a model.
“One day I was walking through the mall, and saw they were doing a model search,” Noel said. “This guy stopped me and said ‘you should model’. He gave me his card, but I continued playing ball.”
It wasn’t until he suffered a knee-injury that Noel strongly considered modeling as a career. Once Noel got signed by VNY Model Management, he, his brother and 2 of their friends decided to move to New York.
Soon, he was doing campaigns for top brands such as GQ, Ralph Lauren, Macy’s, Old Navy, Hush Puppies and Nautica.
Two months before fashion week Noel visited Haiti with his family — his mom and sister hadn’t traveled to the island in over twenty years.
“Haiti is such a beautiful place,” Noel said. “I travel a lot for work, and it’s my favorite part of work. But my visit to Haiti was special. I’m born and raised Haitian… I speak Kreyol and know how to cook the food, so it’s especially important for me, since I have a daughter, that she knows her culture.”
Noel was excited to hear about that Haiti had finally established its own fashion week and hopes to participate soon.
Haiti Fashion Week, which drew over 7,000 visitors in its first edition last year, opens tonight at the Karibe Hotel and Convention Center. This year’s theme is ‘Mod’ifions notre environnement’ (Let’s modify our environment), an effort to promote the use of recycled items in the industry. The 3-day showcase will feature art from over 40 local and visiting designers.