“My mother went easily from an Yves Saint Laurent dress to an African loincloth”

“This is my mother, Thérèse, she must have been around 26 in this photo. It’s the late 1970s or early 1980s and I was born two or three years ago. As a child, I admired this photo a lot in my grandmother’s house in Abidjan, in the very melting pot district of Treichville. It was displayed in large on his wall of family portraits.

My great-grandparents were part of the first generation of Senegalese immigrants to Côte d’Ivoire, they actively participated in the economic development of the country. I grew up in a very eclectic universe, surrounded by strong and intelligent women, gifted with great curiosity. My grandmother was very generous, her door was always open. At home, we could as well meet the Burkinabé stylist Pathé Ouédraogo, the members of the Senegalese group Xalam as the Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff.

Openness values

After her studies, my mother joined Air Afrique, the big airline at the time. She had chosen this photo to appear on her work certificate. With her, I traveled the world, we were inseparable. I remember the beautiful boubou she is wearing in the photo, in a printed muslin veil. She easily went from an Yves Saint Laurent dress to an African loincloth. She loved Carven prints, or wearing Charles Jourdan and Chris Seydou : she knew how to juggle all these codes.

“My aunts would bribe me with candy and gifts so that I would help them choose the outfits they had made in the family’s fashion designers!” “

Above all, she was absolutely chic. She was a sweet and tender woman who looked at you with her big velvet eyes, I like what I inherited from her gaze. I remember when she picked me up from school on Saturdays in her convertible, in Levi’s 501 jeans and Lacoste polo shirt, perched on her Yves Saint Laurent high-heeled sandals, as if levitating.

I was also fascinated by my aunt Mously, I admired her androgynous look, her Romeo Gigli Bermuda shorts and Comme des Garçons derbies in cowhide. Two other aunts of mine owned a fabric store that they imported from India, Pakistan or Sudan. Very early on, I was made aware of beautiful materials and I gave style advice. My aunts would bribe me with candy and gifts to help them choose the outfits they had made at the family’s tailors!

I lived a golden childhood, I would give anything to relive it. At home, art occupied a special place, but always in this idea of ​​mixing cultures. We liked the cinema, that of Maurice Pialat and Ousmane Sembène. All this allowed me to develop a very singular eye, without being frozen in an aesthetic. I also owe a lot to my family for having transmitted to me the values ​​of openness, the idea that we are stronger in sharing and mixing. “

A video directed by Jenke Ahmed Tailly for the British label Pangaia

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