Alida was very beautiful and one of the slaves of White Dutch slave owners. Her master, duPlessis was known to be the most vicious slave owner in Suriname at the time. According to the legacy, the wife of the slave owner, Suzanne duPlessis, thought her husband was sleeping with Alida. Out of pure hate and jealousy, she cut off one of Alida’s breasts and served it to him on a silver chafing dish. Alida survived and the slave master gave her a position in the house as a ‘misi’ or mistress. He also gave her a three-legged table inlaid with precious metals.
The ‘Jealousy Chair’ is an important part of Surinamese history; in particular that of the Black Surinamese woman. The slave women created the Koto dress, which is made up of many layers including a jacket, shirt, skirt, and headwrap, to hide her body and that of young girls, from the predatory eyes of the slave masters. The ‘Koto Misi’ derives from the story of Alida and Black Surinamese women, until today, honor her legacy by taking photographs sitting in the ‘Jealousy Chair’ in their Kotos with plants or flowers sitting on a three-legged table. They also celebrate her legacy by having Koto Misi contests in both Suriname and Amsterdam. Black Surinamese women celebrate the Legacy of Alida until this day for her courage, resilience, and strength during a time when she and Black women like her throughout the Caribbean and America were the innocent victims of cruelty, hate, heinous sexual exploitation and more.
The Stächa Huis brand embodies the culture of generations of Surinamese women in the family of designer Stacey Filé. Her debut lookbook takes you through traditional Surinamese culture juxtaposed with distinct silhouettes, hand painted batik, rich colors and more. The memory of Alida mirrored with imported and gilt embellished textiles, this collection tells the story of the women of Suriname who represent Chinese, Javanese, African, and Indian ethos. The gold in each garment represents in-laid with precious metals in Alida’s chair. The garments themselves are the opposite of Kotos; they are meant to be freeing and in a sense showing off the female form of the wearer. The story of Alida and so many women like her from the sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean to the cotton plantations in Mississippi allow us to remember the power of our voices, our rich history of revolution and remind us that we are the embodiment of the Black woman, no matter our background. The Stächa Woman is a symbol of feminine empowerment; she is the definition of the women who came before her and the blueprint of the women to come.