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The History of Haiti

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Heidi Dakter has created costumes for the Zephyr Dance company and floats for Redmoon Theater. Her latest fashion pieces are politically inspired--like this two-piece ensemble embroidered with major players in the ongoing unrest in Haiti, which she visited on a medical mission in 2004. The outfit will be on display at the restaurant Follia, 953 W. Fulton, starting December 9.

Heather Kenny: What's the concept here?

Heidi Dakter: I feel like the age of protesting has kind of passed us by, and one way I approach it is to create a way to speak without having to say anything.

HK: What was it about Haiti that affected you so much?

HD: People are still flourishing and being content in a situation like that. I look at my life here in the U.S. and I have choices: What do I want to eat? Can I be a vegan? What do I want to be when I grow up? I can be anything.

HK: That's former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and that's Colin Powell--who are the two little girls labeled "victims"?

HD: People's children will actually be kidnapped to get money from the families who are somewhat well-off in comparison to the rest of the people. Some families cannot afford the ransom, so instead of killing their children or just leaving them, they gouge their eyes out and then return them to the families.

HK: And the red--is that supposed to be blood?

HD: Yeah. It's something you can't hide. It's not just a small stain.

HK: You're selling other pieces like this at Robin Richman. Isn't it odd to sell clothes about poverty and strife at a boutique where prices run into the hundreds of dollars?

HD: I know. . . . I feel like the people who would buy it at that store would be the women who are like, 'Oh, that's crazy, what's that all about? I don't know, but I'm buying it!' But I feel like customers like that are the ones who especially need to be seeing the spectacle.

I could've gone to Haiti and been really involved in figuring out ways to make money for the country, and I will donate a percentage from sales to charities. But just the great need to talk about issues like this, the imbalance of wealth throughout the world--that's what the rest of the series will continue to be about.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.

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