African Designer Adama Ndiaye Debuts Black Fashion Week in Paris

Adama Ndiaye

Claiming that Paris Fashion Week is too lily white, Adama Ndiaye, born in Senegal and living in France, took matters into her own hands and created “Black Fashion Week” in Paris, showcasing African designers and models who rarely get a chance to be seen outside of Africa.

“Paris is the capital of fashion. It is so important for designers to show here,” she said.

Ndiaye held the event last year in Prague and will be bringing it on the road to Montreal next month and Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, next March. Ndiaye is the force behind the Adama Paris label and for the past decade has organized Senegal’s Dakar Fashion Week.

Ndiaye has no patience for critics who attack her for creating a show that excludes whites.

“‘Why not a White Fashion Week?’ some have asked. But Paris Fashion Week is already white!” Ndiaye told Agence France-Presse. “We wanted to simply promote beyond African borders designers who are well-known in Africa or in their country but who don’t have access to the global market.”

Ndiaye said her Black Fashion Week also becomes an opportunity for black models.

“For the models, the majority of them black, it’s also an occasion to get on the catwalk since most of the shows look for more expensive white models—some of whom dropped out of ‘Black Fashion Week’ to do better-paying gigs,” she said.

Ndiaye stressed that the fashions on display during her two-day showcase can be purchased and worn by anyone, regardless of skin color.

“These designs are not made by blacks for blacks,” she said.At the Pavillon Cambon Capucines in Paris, about 15 black designers from Africa or living in France, Haiti or the United States, presented their collections. Ndiaye’s own collection featured carefully crafted black dresses, coordinated with golden and burnt orange woven hoops underneath hair turbans for a striking effect.

an Adama design

“It’s an African fabric called Bazan. It’s made with cotton, and I work with women in the village to make it shine and look like leather almost. I use earrings from my ethnic group [Fulani] that we’d usually use in weddings,” Ndiaye said. “I wanted to do something to show that the dress is minimalist and European, but mixed with African earrings and turbans.”

Cherif, a model who worked previously at Ndiaye’s Dakar Fashion Week, said, “I adore Adama. She’s so ambitious.”

Model Tene Gaye agreed.

“This is so different than European events,” model Tene Gaye said. “There’s actually warmth and the audience participates. I love it.”

RAW VIDEO: Paris Welcomes ‘Black Fashion Week’… by NewsLook

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