Bern explains that given that “I’ll always be ‘alien’ as a black person in America’, originally from Jamaica, she wears clothes from people who have her back. Literally. Bern bagged dressing to assimilate for years, trading her lower style profile to dressing to be seen in clothes created by black designers.
I have found community in black-owned boutiques. Martine’s Dream, in the heart of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, brings to mind the Caribbean with its island-inspired, bohemian-chic airy cotton dresses and skirts, its kimonos and caftans. TracyChambers Vintage and Indigo Style Vintage, also both Brooklyn-based, sell timeless pieces— from sweaters reminiscent of Denise Huxtable’s wardrobe on The Cosby Show to pleated dresses with shoulder pads and gold buttons that are very Clair Huxtable.
I go out of my way—and sometimes, out of my budget—to support them, and other local black female designers: Hibara Stores, Royal Jelly Harlem, Busayo, Keafrica. Further out of my budget, but very much on my radar, are designers like Abloh, now the head of Louis Vuitton menswear, and Pyer Moss’s critically lauded designer Kerby Jean-Raymond. The fashion world, like the literary world, is not known for regularly heralding black talents. Slowly but surely, things are changing. Pyer Moss’s spring 2019 show—set in Weeksville, New York (now Crown Heights), one of the first free black communities in the country—was its most politically charged yet. Jean-Raymond’s viral T-shirt with the message “Stop Calling 911 on the Culture” earned him plaudits from critics as well as customers.
Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Debut Novel ‘Here Comes the Sun’ (2016) received excellent reviews and was named a Best Book of 2016 by the New York Times, NPR, Buzzfeed, San Francisco Chronicle, The Root, Book Riot, Kirkus, Amazon, WBUR's 'On Point' and Barnes & Noble. It was a finalist for the New York Public Library Fiction Award and A Grand Prix Littéraire of the Association of Caribbean Writers Selection .
The author’s next novel ‘Patsy” has a publication date of June 4, 2019. Read more details at Nicole Dennis-Benn’s website.
In ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ a Hustle to Thrive in Jamaica The New York Times