Jay Jaxon : An American Fashion Designer, Couturier & Costumier in Paris

Jay Jaxon : An American Fashion Designer, Couturier & Costumier in Paris

With Rachel Fenderson, Curator and Designer in conversation with Amanda Christine Harth, Chicago Designer and Cultural Curator

Thursday, November 5 at 6:00 p.m.
$10 members · $20 non-members · $40 V.I.P
Online via Zoom · In English

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6:00 p.m. (Chicago) · 7:00 p.m. (New York)


Jay Jaxon sat at the helm of Maison Jean-Louis Scherrer as the Couturier in 1969, becoming the first American and African American to head a French Fashion House, making his mark on the Paris’ world of Haute-Couture. Listen to Fashion Designer, Curator, and Lead Authority on Jay Jaxon Rachel Fenderson in conversation with Chicago designer and cultural curator Amanda Christine Harth as they discuss Jaxon’s contributions and how his presence in the fashion industry made it possible for more to follow.

What's more, in the 1970s, Jaxon would create costume designs for Le Ballet Pour Demain and the film L'odeur des fauves. In the same year he would go on to release his eponymous Jay Jaxon collection presented through the "Premiere Collection, Prêt à Porter, Couturiers Américains de Paris". Next he would become the Assistant Designer to Yves Saint Laurent and then to Marc Bohan for Christian Dior creating Haute Couture and Prêt à Porter collections.

Thereafter, Jaxon would return to the maison Jean-Louis Scherrer as the Assistant Designer and once again he would become the Couturier for the Maison in the early to mid 70s. Upon his return from France to New York City, Jaxon produced his own divisional collection released at the Plaza Hotel as well as designing for Pierre Cardin, Jay Jaxon for Benson & Partners, Jou-Jou, Jay Jaxon for Muney, John Kloss, and Jay Jaxon for The New Pliers.

Jaxon created costumes for celebrities and entertainers, television and film, plays and music videos. Jaxon designed for Jill Richards and created theatrical costumes for celebrities such as Thelma Houston, Diahann Carroll, Zizi Jeanmaire, Dalida, Sammy Davis Jr., Luther Vandross, Ben Vereen and more. For television shows, he designed costumes for: The Division, Angel, Ally McBeal, and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. In film, Jaxon created costumes on behalf of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Men’s Club, and in stage for: Ailey Celebrates Ellington, and The Colors of Christmas.
The historical illumination of Jay Jaxon as an American designer, haute couture designer, and costume designer not only transforms the fashion narrative of the past century, it helps to enrich the histories of the present and future through diverse representation.


Rachel Fenderson was born and raised in Queens, New York, to Jamaican parents. Preparing to meet the world impeccably dressed was something she mastered at a very young age. In 2002, Fenderson pursued a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature at Hofstra University. She attended Parsons The New School for Design and completed a Fashion Studies Applied Associates Design degree in Fashion Design in 2008. On January 1, 2011, Rachel Fenderson and her sister Marshea Fenderson, founded the womenswear company Pepper Jacques in New York City. Their innovative luxury clothing brand utilizes smart sophisticated designs to capture the shapes and styles of a woman’s body. 

In 2016, after deciding to fully immerse her life and world into fashion by furthering her education in Paris, France, Fenderson became an LVMH Talent. In 2018 she successfully defended her thesis, Jay Jaxon: A Biographical Study And Media Discourse Analysis Reinstating A Designer Into Fashion History, and graduated with a Master of Arts in Fashion Studies from Parsons Paris The New School for Design. Through further research, interviews and meetings, Fenderson garnered a great amount of material, objects, and oral history allowing her to write the fashion biography of Jay Jaxon and exhibit his work at the Mona Bismarck (American Center For Art & Culture) in Paris (2018), Queens Public Library (2019), and at Queens Historical Society (2020), currently on display. In 2019, NBC Meteorologist and Newscaster Al Roker, invited Fenderson to tour their Hometown Saint Albans, Queens, for the segment 3rd hour of TODAY’s Hometown Glory, by way of her work as a Guest Curator for the Queens Historical Society.


Amanda Christine Harth is a designer and entrepreneur from Chicago. For over eight years she's consulted and collaborated with emerging designers to develop ways to grow their companies. She created the platform Clothing Humans, formerly known as Runwayaddicts, as a resource and space to foster the conversations and concepts of designers and consumers to define the independent Midwest market and advance the fashion industry. 


This series is curated by Alexander Aubry; Patrizia di Carrobio; and Aimee Laberge – in partnership with the Fashion Resource Center the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).



Free admission for this program is offered to students in Fashion Studies at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago; the Lycée français de Chicago; as well as students of French at Loyola University and DePaul University in Chicago; University of Wisconsin - Madison: Washington University in Saint-Louis; and Oberlin College. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.


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