By John Moran
Afri Modiste serves as a representation of New Orleans, and Renee Johnson is the genius behind the brand. Renee owns and runs Afri Modiste, a business in the heart of Uptown in the Broadmoor neighborhood handcrafting custom couture evening wear. For the 2018 New Orleans Fashion Week, on March 23rd Afri Modiste displayed its lavish and elegant dresses debuting the 2018 Prom Queen Collection.
Within the collection, you notice Renee’s ability to create pieces that draw inspiration from her vast experience designing with different fabrics and patterns. Notice the 3D sequence, reverse sequence, jumbo sequence, and 3D floral fabric. Renee also specializes in fit and flair, trumpet style, exaggerated trains, similar to bridal wear catered towards current trends.
Afri Modiste, described by Renee, is her love letter to her hometown, New Orleans. Afri is defined as strong African culture, and modiste is a French word for milliner or dressmaker. Originating from New Orleans East, Renee was born and raised here and draws much of her inspiration from her hometown that includes Spanish, French, and African influence. Renee attended Bauder College, a fashion school in Atlanta, as well as traveled to over 8 countries for first-hand influence and understanding of culture. She has been to London, Paris, Dubai, Egypt, Spain, China, to name a few, giving her first-hand exposure to people and fashion of distant lands. So, every Afri Modiste customer receives a magnificent one of a kind piece.
Gowns range anywhere from $500 – $1500. Orders begin in the fall for Mardi Gras, and when that concludes, prom season lasts until early Summer. Pre-made gowns on the website will range sizes 2-12, anything custom made will have to be determined by booking an appointment, and Renee can be reached at (504) 259-3260.
Afri Modiste was founded in 2017 and can be found on Instagram here: @afrimodiste, and a website is soon to follow. Although the business is new, Renee is an experienced business owner. She runs a kid clothing line, Happy Village Kids, inspired by her own glowing children founded in 2014, and has been displayed at New Orleans Fashion Week twice already. That brand’s Instagram is @happyvillagekids, and website is www.happyvillagekids.com.