On March 24th, almost ten days after the announcement of the designer’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Jenny Polanco, aged 62, was pronounced dead due to complications of the virus. She had contracted COVID from a recent trip to Madrid due to work-related reasons, at a stage when little was known about the virus. In a tribute to the late Polanco, Diario Libre expresses “Now the angels are best dressed, Jenny arrived in paradise, installed her workshop and started to Dominicanize the fathomless sky giving it her own personal touch.”
High, acclaimed, and deeply beloved not only by our country but by many others, Jenny was a pioneer in her craft. Even though her career lasted a whopping 37 years, it started long before that; very young, Jenny began confectioning dresses for her dolls to progress onto making clothes for herself during college. Studied at Universidad Pedro Enriquez Ureña (UNPHU) in Santo Domingo but moved on to study further what constantly appears in any designer’s dream, Parsons: School of Design, a widely recognized school of art located in New York. At the time, and even so now, this is an enormous deal. In 1979, one of the first fashion houses opened in the Dominican Republic; there, Jenny Polanco, the brand was born.
Starting and still based on prêt-á-porter (french for ready to wear) on a time where all houses did bespoke orders and even being a pioneer on exportation, they described the brand as “Characterized for establishing a fluid dialogue between classic avant-garde style and the Caribbean.” Her legacy perdures in her timeless designs, which showcase her talent and outpouring love for her country; each garment has a piece of her heart and heritage. Among less than a few giants, without Doña Jenny, there wouldn’t be a place for us in the world of fashion, more so when her designs carried parts of our history, with buttons and accents made of Ambar, abundant in our country. She showed our history in its purest form, showcasing it worldwide, even reaching Parisian audiences.
Now the brand’s future might be as defined as its past; her children are responsible for business technicalities. However, a curious fact is that once Polanco officially began her brand, she started tutoring people under her wing, looking to boost local designers and help them out on their professional path. One of these students was Carolina Socias who grew to become an established Dominican swimwear designer and now she is taking over as creative director alongside Kaori Sone and Solange Jimenez. The trio officially took over after “Jaez”: based on the first boutique Polanco ever created, the Spring-Summer 2021 collection full of neutral fabrics but silhouettes and textures that welcome a new era without leaving the previous one behind.