Kanye West Adidas

The New Yeezy Collection: on the cutting edge or should he cut the crap?

In case you missed it, rapper/ mogul Kanye West recently unveiled his new clothing line with Adidas. Much to his dismay, this line and even his career as a designer, has opened up to an insurmountable level of criticism. Very few positive remarks have been published. In fact, many seem to believe that this rapper should hang up his sewing machine and stick to music…but, are they right? Not in my opinion.

To be fair…

I need to admit that I am a ceaseless Kanye West Stan (I surpassed average fan status somewhere around “Late Registration”); however, I also consider myself to be fairly level-headed about things even when I’m emotionally invested. That being said, I can see how Mr. West’s brand of street meets chic fashion might be off-putting to those who frequent the runways of Paris. Nevertheless, what Mr. West’s efforts represent to me, more than anything, is an idea. An idea that a black man from the “hood” can stand toe-to-toe with the exclusive list of designers who have been predominantly white males up until this point.

The Trickle up of Fashion…

We’re often reminded of the trickle-down of the fashion world. We’re told about how most of the things we wear are outdated the moment they reach the urban demographic as, this is what fashion is about; the constant creation of looks and styles in order to consistently stay fierce and fabulous. (In fact, if you’ve ever seen The Devil Wears Prada there’s an entire rant about it by Meryl Streep’s character). However, it is very rarely revealed that the inspiration for these so-called “high end” fashions, at times, come from what many consider to be the lowest fashion demographic, the urban market. There have been a number of styles and even specific patterns, pieces etc. that made it to runway, straight from the streets of the inner city. Not that this is a bad thing, per se…fashion designers should be inspired by fresh and novel ideas no matter where they come from. Nevertheless, this is a fact that is often hidden from the general public.

Now back to Yeezy…

There might not be much to Yeezy’s brand of body stocking, bags, heels, jackets, and tattered shirts…but at the same time, they’re everything! What Mr. West has done is taken a slice of upscale fashion and brought it to the urban community, essentially cutting out the middle man. Rather than try to fit in with the hoity toity world of high fashion, Yeezy has brought comfortably stylish clothing to high fashion. What’s more, he is also changing what is acceptable to wear in the urban community. Unbeknownst to many, the urban fashion world is a very narrow field. Designers are often limited to only certain colors and styles due to the fact that brand names are often valued over all else and fashion cues are typically taken from a select few rappers and singers. Thus, Mr. West having the courage to do something different will likely lead to many other designers crafting out-of-the-box designs for the urban market.

In Conclusion…

This is obviously just one person’s opinion. Though Yeezy’s new line may not be everyone’s cup of tea I’d urge you to scour the runways and find something that truly is. If man skirts and shirts with penis holes can be taken seriously, I’m not sure why Kanye is getting so much criticism. Fashion is about taking chances and changing the way people dress and express themselves. If nothing else, Kayne West has already done that and he’s just getting started. Here’s hoping he doesn’t let the naysayers stop him…I am looking forward to the next collection!

Venus L

Cameroonian Fashion Designer Makes a Splash on Canal Boat Cruise

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 with microphone

Lamine M.
© Discover Paris!

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.

Wonu An Designs
© Discover Paris!

Wonu An Designs
© Discover Paris!

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.

Lamyne M.
9, rue Moreau
93200 Saint-Denis
E-mail : lamyne@yahoo.fr

by Monique Y. Wells
Monique Y. Wells is the co-founder of Discover Paris! and the creator of Entrée to Black Paris tours.

Tom Reeves
Discover Paris