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A Fashion Visionary Reframing Creole Identity

A Fashion Visionary Reframing Creole Identity

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Vincent Frederic Colombo is an art director, model scout and stylist whose work presents a contemporary idea of his cultural heritage.

Vincent Frederic Colombo at his home in Paris. CreditMaxime La for The New York Times

Name: Vincent Frederic Colombo

Age: 27

Hometown: Saint-Claude, Guadeloupe

Now Lives: In a two-bedroom courtyard apartment in the Saint-Ambroise area of Paris.

Claim to Fame: Mr. Colombo is an art director, model casting director, fashion stylist and designer, whose work explores cultural and racial appropriation in fashion and the arts. His stylist work has been featured in publications like Theones2watch and Dedicate.

Casting clients include Vivienne Westwood and Bernard Wilhelm, who rely on his ability to find unique-looking models from the street for their runway shows. “It’s about seeing potential in people that they don’t see themselves,” Mr. Colombo said. “To be able to see someone as an actor who can help create a story.”

A Creole Soul shirt designed by Mr. Colombo.CreditMaxime La for The New York Times

Big Break: In 2014, Mr. Colombo and his friend Fanny Viguier started Creole Soul, a photography project styled and art directed by Mr. Colombo and shot by Ms. Viguier. Inspired by vintage postcards that perpetuated stereotypes of Caribbean cultures, the stark black-and-white images mixed contemporary street wear with native Creole clothing to offer a modern vision of the Creole diaspora.

In 2016, the project was exhibited for three months at the National Library of France in Paris and selected by La Bourse du Talent as the jury favorite in fashion photography.

Latest Project: Since then, Creole Soul has evolved into a multidimensional creative exploration of Creole identity. Last year, Mr. Colombo started a line of T-shirts and hoodies, and he plans to release a new capsule collection in September. “I was surprised to discover how some designers expressed the Creole aesthetic without any real modern ready-to-wear vision,” Mr. Colombo said. “We don’t want to be seen only as exotic fantasies.”

More recently, he started La Creole, a dance party that showcases African, Latino and Caribbean music, held at Le Chinois, a club just outside of Paris.

CreditMaxime La for The New York Times
CreditMaxime La for The New York Times

Next Thing: Mr. Colombo is working on a unisex jewelry collection of earrings, rings, necklaces and chains that he hopes to unveil in the fall. “It’s a balance between the masculine and the feminine, referencing folk Creole family jewels and the gangsta world,” he said.

Strike a Pose: Mr. Colombo is a self-described “ghost member” of the Mizrahi House, one of the dance collectives in Paris modeled after the house-ball scene in Harlem. He also loves to vogue. “I have some good basic knowledge, I just need to improve it,” he said. “But most of the time, at parties, people think I’m a professional dancer.”

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