We cannot talk about fashion today without mentioning top fashion houses in the world such as Versace, Chanel, and Gucci. However, very little is known about the first Black and first American Haute couturier, who paved the way for black fashion designers, like Virgil Abloh, Olivier Rousteing, and even Rihanna’s Fenty.
Jay Jason Jaxon was 28 years old when he first led America to a French Couture House.
Jaxon was born in Queens in 1941 to Ethel Rena-Jackson and Sidney Jackson and he lived between Queens, New York, Paris and California. While studying law at New York University, Jaxon fell in love with fashion as he tailored a dress for his then-girlfriend who reportedly needed her party dress altered at the last minute before a Saturday night out.
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He soon dropped out of school to pursue his newfound love-costume designing. Jaxon nursed the ambition of getting to Paris and becoming part of, or even near to, the French Couture.
He did find himself in the fashion capital, Paris where he trained under Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior.
At the time, a design house, Jean Louis Scherrer, was on the brink of collapse, when Jaxon was appointed as their head designer in 1969, making him the first African American to lead a French couture house.
He later returned to the United States designing staple collections for Pierre Cardin, Jay Jaxon for Benson & Partners, Jou-Jou, Jay Jaxon for Muney, John Kloss, and Jay Jaxon for The New Pliers.
He was a leading 7th Avenue Designer of haute couture in New York City during Haute couture’s peak period in the 1970s.
He even designed costumes for celebrities like Thelma Houston, Diahann Carroll, Sammy Davis Jr., and Luther Vandross. He continued to design and work during the latter part of his career for numerous television productions like “Motown 25”, “Ally McBeal”, “The Division” and “American Dreams” and his Film work included “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”.
Today Jaxon is often left out of fashion’s history, but as we celebrate the black history month, Face2face Africa remembers the man who pioneered and paved the path for the American designers and black designers of today.
Jaxon’s Fashion career spanned over several decades. He was a personal designer and fashion consultant for many celebrities during his lifetime until he died from complications from prostate cancer in 2006.