vogue– Netflix’s recent John David Washington and Zendaya romantic drama, Malcolm and Marie, doesn’t skimp on the eye-candy. From its telegenic cast to its sumptuous cinematography, the film brims with beauty. But of all its charms, the most eye-catching may be Marie’s slinky halter necked gown. The liquid metal creation is one of the first things viewers see as the character heads home after her significant other’s film premiere and rushes straight to the powder room. Vampy, with a Michelle Pfieffer in Scarface style simplicity, it’s the kind of dress that makes you want to score your own.
The impact of the look isn’t surprising once you know its source, designer Jason Rembert, whose two-year-old-label, Aliétte, is a favorite of forward-thinking glamour girls. Tapped by Law Roach to create a timeless piece for the project, Rembert was touched by the opportunity. “It was just a no-brainer for me,” shared Rembert on the phone from Los Angeles. “I was honored and humbled that Law considered working with me on such an important project, and his first time serving as a costume designer for a film. These opportunities don’t often happen for young designers of color, and I’m grateful that he took that leap of faith.”
Rembert’s talents were evident to Roach, but the fashion community as a whole is beginning to acknowledge his flair for creating fashion moments. He’s already revered as one of the top stylists, handling the headline-making wardrobes of Issa Rae, Ezra Miller, and Michael B. Jordan. Still his gifts truly shine in Aliétte. Since its inception in 2019, Aliétte has served up colorful and dramatic styles that give each wearer a red carpet-worthy moment. From athleisure-inspired by his Martiniquais heritage to evening wear with a seductive verve, Rembert has created a distinctive wardrobe for modern women. Still, what he finds most interesting is the idea that his customers are interested in more than looking good. “I know that when people decide to spend their hard-earned money, they aren’t just buying into the clothes and the designer,” he says. “They’re buying into the story, its authenticity, and brand’s values. The fact that there are people out there who purchase Aliétte and have connected to our story is amazing.”
In recent months the brand has hit its stride, appearing in multiple editions of Vogue and on the backs of stars like Regina King, Tracee Ellis Ross, Chloe Bailey, and Uzo Aduba, who collaborated with Rembert on an Emmy night tribute to Breonna Taylor. Some labels specialize in a specific kind of client, but Rembert aims for universality and empowering designs that make women feel their absolute best and offers sizes from XS to XXL. “To see something you’ve designed worn on different bodies and different types of women, at different points in their careers, is incredible,” says Rembert, who has been moved by some of the stylish interpretations he’s seen on social media. “Everyone is so creative in how they present this imagery to the world. Some do incredible videos, others use their iPhones and make Instagram Lives, then you’ll turn on Jimmy Kimmel and see someone wearing the brand. The clothes aren’t just for one specific group, it’s a range of people who have different tastes, and the goal is to be able to cater to most if not all.”
That mindset has led to a varied fanbase. Gen-Z poet Amanda Gorman wore Aliétte as she graced Time’s cover, as did The Undoing breakout and Olivier Award winner Noma Dumezweni on the red carpet at January’s Gotham Awards. What unites Aliétte’s women isn’t size or age, but a sense of purpose and power. “I’ve been extremely blessed to dress women who I admire,” says Rembert. “One thing we’ve seen during lockdown is how people have continued to express their identity through clothes; even at home, they want to show the range of their style.”
When Aliétte launched, the world and the fashion industry were in a very different place. Before the coronavirus crisis upended traditional business models and ways of thinking about clothing, launching a new brand was a (slightly) less risky endeavor. During the pandemic, Rembert has had to adapt. “Client needs have evolved,” he says. “In 2019, we were looking forward to being outside at premieres or awards shows and having nights out. Right now, though, you want to be ambitious and have styles that could be on a red carpet, but they have to also look good on Zoom and fit with our current at-home lifestyle. So maybe it’s a jumpsuit instead of a dress, a pullover, or lightweight sweater, a piece that is more transitional and can carry from day into night.”
The changes have also caused Rembert to reevaluate the label’s pricing structure. Luxury fashion typically means exorbitantly high prices, but this season he hopes to introduce more affordable pieces into the range, and the upcoming lineup will feature several new items from $95 to $795 in addition to the pricier fare. “The main reason I started the collection was that I was inspired by my late mother, grandmother, and sister,” he explains. “Even if they saved up their money, they couldn’t afford [runway] fashion, so increasing the number of affordable options was a big factor for us and an important part of transitioning the brand into its current state. I haven’t done a formal show in over a year, so I’m excited to bring that aspect into this new collection.”
A member of the new generation of Black talent currently reinvigorating New York Fashion Week, Rembert hopes that the upcoming Fall/Winter 2021 season will be a turning point for BIPOC in fashion. “I think it’s going to be innovative as a whole,” he says. “There’s a lot of energy out there, an opportunity for a lot of the younger players to have a voice. I don’t think there are any creative boundaries or constraints right now; it’s about being authentic and connecting with your core clientele.”