Marie Antoinette's MELANIN Project Creates Beautiful Art with A Powerful Meaning
by Devyn Imholt
Marie Antoinette is a healthcare professional, fashion stylist, and author whose project MELANIN has received national attention and critical acclaim. MELANIN is a book, docuseries, and lifestyle brand that is centered around demystifying colorism and its associated stereotypes. Marie knew that she loved fashion from a young age, but she also knew that she wanted to make a difference. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her life and the amazing MELANIN project.
When she was a child, Marie’s mother worked in a nursing home where she would occasionally help out. This helped Marie to realize that she had a passion for healthcare and helping others. She also knew from a young age that she had a passion for fashion, styling herself and others as early as high school. Following academia, Marie realized her goal of working in healthcare by becoming an anesthesiologist.
Even while working in healthcare, Marie continued to follow her passion for styling and fashion. She continued to style for others, now working for various celebrities and influencers, including Christiane Porter of The Christi Show. Marie even began to create her own pieces. In an attempt to display some of her own original designs, Marie began to work on her own fashion shows, holding “Driving You Wild” in 2020 and “Legend” in 2021.
Marie would realize her true calling when a woman in a clothing store told her that she was “pretty for a dark-skinned woman.” This was a phrase that she had heard growing up and had long since realized was a backhanded compliment. Hearing this as an adult, from another dark-skinned woman, made Marie realize that society had not gotten past its stereotypical narratives revolving around skin tone and color. Marie developed the concept for MELANIN; a documentary, book, and lifestyle brand that would positively demystify COLORISM (the biased or prejudicial treatment of people belonging to the same race, based on skin pigmentation).
"I always wanted to take care of people, it's why I studied healthcare. I wanted to bring better representation into the healthcare sector. My love for fashion and art, however, made me realize that representation was needed in more areas than just healthcare, and being able to build and create the MELANIN project, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she explained.
The MELANIN book was officially released in February of 2022 with the first part of the accompanying documentary. The project has been met with an overwhelmingly positive reception that shocked even Marie. The book featured beautiful imagery alongside powerful messaging, with every piece of clothing and jewelry being specifically designed for the project. The book and documentary had a special premiere opening in Atlanta which has been followed by a book signing tour.
In 2021, Marie launched SAPPHIRE DIAMONDS, a fashion show, and inclusive clothing brand. She also created the SAPPHIRE DIAMOND AWARDS, an award that recognizes members of the community who are making an impact through relevant socio-economic initiatives. While the success of MELANIN caused the SAPPHIRE DIAMONDS fashion show to take a year off in 2022, it will be returning in 2023 with a streetwear theme.
In the near future, Marie will be launching Part II of her MELANIN documentary, expanding her messaging about fashion, inclusivity, and art in partnership with several corporate and educational institutions around the country. MELANIN is a project that perfectly exemplifies Marie’s passion and character, merging impactful messages with artistic imagery to create something truly unique. Marie explained to me that she didn’t want to “beat a dead horse” when discussing colorism. Her project MELANIN has been able to effectively tackle a serious issue in a new way, inciting discussion and receiving praise. Marie Antoinette is someone who has her heart in the right place, looking to help others and incite change with her work.