African style makes debut at Paris Haute Couture week
Cameroonian designer Imane Ayissi blended European style with African flair for a catwalk collection that marked the first time a designer from sub-Saharan Africa had joined the Paris haute couture fashion week.
Designer Imane Ayissi appears with models at the end of his Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020 collection show in Paris, France January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
“It’s an honor”, Ayissi, 51, told Reuters backstage before the show, referring to the decision, after many years of knocking him back, to finally admit him to the select club of haute couture fashion houses showing in Paris.
“I have been fighting for 28 years, dedicated all my life to the work. The French Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion opened its door to me after it rejected my application many times, because it was not the right time or my work did not match with expectations. But this time, it worked”, he said.
Ayissi started young, making outfits for his mother who was a winner of the Miss Cameroon beauty pageant in the 1960s.
Drifting into modeling, he moved to Paris thirty years ago, and walked the runway for high-end stylists including Yves Saint-Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Givenchy and Lanvin.
He later decided to devote himself fully to working as a designer, defining a style he described as minimal, sleek and elegant “with a certain mastery of fabric and form”.
For his show late on Thursday, which was chosen to close this year’s edition of the Paris Haute Couture fashion week, models walked down the catwalk in a Paris hotel to a soundtrack of African music.
Models showed off gowns in the style of contemporary Western fashion but with a twist: they were made of organic Faso Dan Fani, a cotton cloth from Burkina Faso woven in strips.
Another outfit, a silk dress, was adorned with stained tree bark cut out into the shape of flowers.
“I do what I can – to show real African fabrics, tell stories,” Ayissi said of his collection.
Marlon James to Host New Literary Podcast
The Booker Prize winner is teaming up with his editor, Jake Morrissey, on “Marlon and Jake Read Dead People.”
In his novels “A Brief History of Seven Killings” and “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” Marlon James frequently conjures lost and forgotten voices. As one of the hosts of “Marlon and Jake Read Dead People,” a new podcast whose first two episodes will be available Monday, he does something similar with the spoken word. In the audio series from Riverhead Books, James and Jake Morrissey, his editor, strive to breathe life into the literature of the past.
The podcast is an outgrowth, both hosts said, of discussions that they’ve been having for years. “People kept walking in on me and Jake having arguments about books,” James said in an interview. “The thing they noticed was that we were always arguing about no-longer-living authors as if they just wrote a book last week.”
BRITISH COUNCIL SUPPORTING CREATIVE ARTS IN NIGERIA
As part of the British Council’s 75th anniversary in Nigeria, they are celebrating participants of their programme in the areas of their work – arts and culture, English language, education, civil society – whose lives, businesses and communities have been impacted positively following the participation.
They are saying Thanks to you Chika Jones, an alumnus of the British Council’s 2017 Young Critics’ Programme, Nigerian performance poet and budding theatre critic..
Chika Jones won his place on the British Council Young Critics’ Programme. This project was aimed at developing critical journalistic engagement with the fast-developing theatre sector in Lagos.
It aimed to train, mentor and promote 20 young writers between the ages of 18 and 35 to build their theatre criticism skills, to help in professionalising the arts scene, upskilling young people, building new audiences for theatre, increasing media engagement with the Lagos Theatre Festival (LTF) and the wider theatre sector and build the capacity of the theatre-makers in the festival.
Chika was an obvious candidate for the place. In 2013, he won a National poetry slam and has been on some of the biggest stages ever since. In 2014, he was a guest performer for the Wole Soyinka at 80 cultural exchange and in that same year, he was selected to attend the Caine Prize Short Story Workshop for the Port Harcourt Book Festival.
Between 2015 and 2016 he has performed poetry at the Lagos Book and Arts Festival, Lagos International Poetry Festival, Ake Arts and Book Festival and he was selected to attend the 2016 class of the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop.
He says: “Of this I am sure: I believe that art in whatever form is integral to this world as we know it and I want to always contribute in any way I can to the art we put out.”
As an alumnus of the young critics’ programme in 2017, Chika Jones has gone ahead to establish his craft very prominently in Lagos. He has performed both as a critic and a poet at the Lagos Theatre Festival, the Lagos International Poetry Festival (LIPFEST) and several other productions across the country. Chika Jones is now regarded as one of the upcoming poets and theatre critics in Lagos.
He is currently working on a collection of poems about Lagos. Most of his works have been published in Kalahari Review, Praxis Magazine, and on his website chikajones.com.
British Council is inviting past programme participants to celebrate its 75-year anniversary with them by submitting stories of their experience and the impact it has had. Visit www.britishcouncil.org.ng for more information about how to participate in the 75 Stories campaign or follow on social media