Adama Paris and the 5 items I needed for Dakar Fashion Week | Bot To News


This year marks two decades since Adama Paris, a Senegalese designer with a global footprint, launched Dakar Fashion Week.

Entrepreneurs like her, she said, often don’t have the luxury of time to reflect or bask in their accomplishments. But the veteran producer made an exception this year.

“It’s a blessing, I’m very proud of myself,” she said in an interview with OkayAfrica. “I don’t congratulate myself. (But) today I want to use the day to brag about myself.”

She remembers the first fashion week as “the most beautiful”, although she cried a lot. But the inaugural event also marked when she knew for sure that she could do it, and that she was made for this job. It took courage to step back and do it for your country; it’s hard to start something.

“That’s why in this world you have few leaders and many followers because it’s easy to follow,” Paris said. “When you start something, the risk is on you. You have to do everything for yourself and you also have to be brave enough to fail, and a lot of people are afraid to fail. I can proudly say that I am proud of us, which we made it because it wasn’t easy. We weren’t looking for easy, but it’s refreshing to still look new 20 years later.”

When she first started, Paris said no one understood why she left her job as a banker to become a designer. Her stubbornness and self-belief drove her, but so did “the fear of standing still.” In two decades, it has also witnessed a change in Dakar, which has catapulted into the global art scene in recent years.

Paris’ appreciation of time and place was on display at this year’s show: the anchor fashion show took place on the island of Gorée, once the largest slave trading post on the African coast. “Everything was 10 times harder because it’s an island,” he said.

Guests boarded a ferry to the island and then cruised along the coast at sunset for a presentation of 20 designers. Paris knew the importance of the show would be worth all the extra work

“It’s the symbol of slavery and also the symbol of freedom in a way,” Paris said. “Now… it’s a beautiful and cheerful island, despite the heavy history.”

Paris also made its own history this year, producing the first Chanel show anywhere on the continent.

In conversation with OkayAfrica, she talked about why she loves the fashion emerging from West Africa, the connection between sensuality and comfort, and the items that were essential to a successful Fashion Week and Chanel show.

1.Her “Renaissance” earrings.

Photo credit: Adedamola Odetara

Adama was in love with her pair of gold hoop earrings featuring a replica of the African Renaissance Monument, Africa’s tallest statue.

Put them on when you need a boost. “A little more is never too much,” he added. Paris wore the earrings to the white party that closed Dakar Fashion Week on December 4.

2.Her purple Adama Paris dress

Photo credit: Adedamola Odetara

This dress, one of her best sellers, comes with Adama Paris everywhere. It’s loose, but sexy, in the way popularized here in Senegal, drawing from the traditional boubou.

When she’s not producing a show, Paris likes to surf. Still, she believes in showing her body only when she wants, and that all people should be able to make that choice, regardless of their body type.

“The new sexy is being comfortable,” Paris said. “Sexy as in tight, short, that’s overrated.”

3.Your Boyette bag

This structured leather and wood bag pays homage to the ancestors of Paris. Boyette means box in Wolof, and the bag is modeled after the jewelry boxes used by her mother and grandmother. It is an example of his trademark aesthetic, which fuses the past with fresh designs.

4.Her Adama Paris bomber jacket

Photo credit: Adedamola Odetara

The Paris bomber jacket, another top seller in his collection, appeals to consumers of all genders, he said. It was a must-have during fashion week because of its versatility.

“Essential pieces have to be pieces that you can wear with everything, wherever you are,” she said.

5.His Kufi hat with tassels

Photo credit: Adedamola Odetara

Paris loves hats so much that she has a wall of them in her house, some of which travel with her. This cap with tassels takes the style of the traditional one that men wear in mosques on Friday for Jum’ah. Paris wore it on the opening night of the 20th Dakar Fashion Week, which took place on Friday.

He told Okay Africa that he loves the fashion emerging from West Africa because of pieces, like this cap, that pay homage to integral parts of the culture, like faith.

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