Cameroonian Fashion Designer Makes a Splash on Canal Boat Cruise
The local tourist bureau of Seine Saint-Denis, a French administrative department that lies just to the north of Paris, is actively promoting numerous artists, musicians, and designers that live and work there. On March 22, 2014, it featured the work of an exceptionally creative fashion designer during a fun-filled boat cruise on the Canal Saint-Denis and the Canal de l’Ourcq.
Lamyne M. hails from Cameroon, where he began his training as a tailor at the age of 13. Particularly mindful of the origin and quality of the fabrics that he uses to create his designs, he constructs fine garments with remnants recuperated from bolts of cloth used by designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Smalto. He also experiments with new, environmentally-friendly materials such as fabrics made from cactus fiber. His design house is called Wonu An, which means “Be yourself” in Fula (a language of West Africa).
Lamyne specializes in men’s fashions though he designs for women, as well. All of his garments are hand-sewn by craftsmen in workshops in Morocco and Cameroon. During his presentation, he proudly announced that hip-hop recording artist Kanye West has purchased his designs.
Everyday people from the town of Saint-Denis were selected as models for the fashion cruise.
Lamyne is collaborating on a fascinating project with Professor Maya Thebault and students from La Source, a vocational high school in the town of Nogent that trains textile professionals. Together, they are crafting “Giant Robes” three meters (9.8 feet) tall that are based on the designs of gowns worn by French queens and princesses of medieval times. The recumbent statues of these women are found at the royal necropolis of the Saint-Denis Basilica.
The students have been making careful drawings of the gowns in which the women are dressed. They have selected Holland Wax print fabrics, typical of those used for contemporary African fashions, to create the robes and accompanying accessories.
The giant dresses will be shown in an exceptional exposition at Saint-Denis Basilica in 2015.
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by Monique Y. Wells
Monique Y. Wells is the co-founder of Discover Paris! and the creator of Entrée to Black Paris tours.