Kiki Barth. This tall, dark chocolate beauty stands 5’11 and model skinny, but very curvy. She is definitely a chameleon, able to transform her looks from one character to another very easily. I initially met Ms. Barth last year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim, where she was walking for the Lisa Blue Show. She immediately caught my eye, and when she opened her mouth to speak, her French/Creole accent revealed that she was Haitian. And she is so proud of her native country Haiti.
We had an instant connection. She was just as excited to find out that I was also Haitian. We discussed the condition of the country, the families we lost, the plans to go back, the amazing people we may have in common, and our love for Marc Baptiste–the work he is doing for Haiti and how we should all collaborate. We promised to work together, but if you know anything about the fashion industry, you can go months without seeing the same person again. During fashion week you stand a better chance of reconnecting. True to the industry, we did meet again at Fashion Week, and promised that this time we were definitely going to make things happen on all levels… business, pleasure, and Haiti.
This season, we had the opportunity to work Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim again in the tents while she was working the Red Carter and the Rana Rojo shows. She killed! Both men and women were mesmerized by her beauty and walk of confidence. She blew kisses and gave us that walk reminiscent of Naomi Campbell; no exaggeration.
Walking the runway this season for eleven shows was definitely a full schedule. Undoubtedly, this prepares Ms. Barth to return to New York to walk Fashion Week for this upcoming season. The demand is already very high. She humbly declines to name some of the shows requesting her. I like that. Please keep in mind, Ms. Barth has already been shot by the legendary Bruce Weber, which gives her bragging rights. But still she keeps mum. Upon further investigation, I learned some famous names that she has the luxury of calling clients are Bobbi Brown, Chloe, Lanvin, Cavalli, Michael Kors, Herve Leger, Anne Fontaine, Nicole Miller and the notable Agent Provocateur.
When I requested an interview for my column, she responded, “Awww, that is so nice. I really appreciate it.” She has not an ounce of haughtiness or sense of entitlement. Her career is what gave her a measure of confidence, because she feels beautiful when she’s modeling.. So, Ms. Barth wanted our interview to highlight her career, as a way to empower girls. Her desire is to help the orphans of Haiti, to be a role model, like her own idol Iman, whom she admits is one of the Beauty icons she loves.
Q & A With Kiki Barth
MLM: Where were you born?
Kiki Barth: I was born in St. Marc, Haiti.
MLM: When and where did you start modeling?
Kiki Barth: I was 15 when I started, and it was in West Palm Beach, FL.
MLM: What is your connection to Haiti?
Kiki Barth: I want to go back there to help the orphans.
MLM: What does modeling mean to you as a Haitian model?
Kiki Barth: To me, modeling is a different outlet I could focus my energy on and it gave me the confidence all young girls should have. It makes me feel so Amazing and beautiful, especially on the runway.
MLM: Who are your role models?
Kiki Barth: My mother definitely, but as for the industry it’s Iman. She is classy, beautiful, and smart. Her look is timeless. She’s been in the beauty, fashion, and cosmetics industry for a long time, and certainly has done a huge part to help define true beauty for African American women. She is such an inspiration. She is not just a model, but a role model for women of color. I also wear many of Iman’s cosmetic products.
MLM: What are your future plans for Haiti?
Kiki Barth: I don’t have one big cause or a plan to save the world, but I contribute to my country Haiti simply by helping out in small ways. I commit most of my free time to working at the food bank, travel to Haiti to teach young girls in school about my modeling, and any other experience, and I volunteer for a variety of causes.
Obviously my seemingly random volunteer efforts may not change the world or Haiti, but I have learned that if I can impact even one person, then I have done a good job. Realizing that I helped pack hundreds of boxes of food reminds me that even in small ways, an individual can make a difference. I’ve also learned that service does not flow in only one direction. Although I may be the one giving my time to help others, by sharing their laughter, their tears, and their stories with me, other people constantly inspire me to have faith that humans are good. My efforts may feed their body for the moment, but their words feed my soul forever.
MLM: What is your message for young Haitian girls who want to model?
Kiki Barth: My advice to any inspiring young Haitian girls, is to love yourself, recognize your gifts and unique talents and put them to good use. Dream of what you can become. Accept and value the person you are now. Reach for the impossible and do the best job you can do. Never give up, no matter how much rejection you may encounter. One day you will succeed.
Words by Myrdith: Your stereotypical model is supposed to be vacuous and shallow. However, I don’t think Kiki Barth got that memo. This brilliant, motivating artist sees beyond her own victories to the future success of others that will come after her. What a wonderful legacy to be working towards–to inspire the next generation of Haitians, and all girls that have the privilege of seeing her on the runways, and in the pages of fashion magazines.
See you on the catwalk, Kiki Barth! Representing women, women of color, and Haiti… Your success is our success.
Interview done by Myrdith Leon McCormack
Photo credit: Michaelle Chapoteau