25, January 2024
Imane Ayissi is on a mission to put authentic African textiles in the spotlight but faces an uphill battle as a pioneer African couturier at Paris Fashion Week in France.
The bark of the Obom tree, kente cloth from Ghana and kapok fibres from Burkina Faso are some of the textiles — little-known in Europe — that the Cameroonian turned into bespoke dresses for his haute couture show in Paris on Monday.
“Often when we talk about African fashion, we think of colorful fabrics that Africans actually only started wearing relatively recently,” Ayissi told AFP at his workshop ahead of the show.
Ayissi — who in 2020 became the first designer from Sub-Saharan Africa at haute couture week — seeks to resurrect more traditional fabrics like rafia, drawn from local trees and plants, that were used before the African market was flooded with imports during the colonial period.