I knew some of that story, with your mom abandoning you. I’m so sorry that happened to you. That’s heartbreaking.
Thank you, thank you.
Do you remember the color of the fabric your mom wore that day?
It’s blue. I’m always using blue prints. A lot of turquoise. Really dramatic motifs. That’s why when you look at my collections, there’s always one blue thing that really stands out.
That color is haunting you.
When you’re on a journey, it’s hard to just give up. To be honest with you, I didn’t create the brand from a commercial place. I made the suit for myself, to heal my pain and forget the past. I got to the point when I got to London where I said, “You are not a child anymore, and those memories are to be erased.” I wore that suit I made by mistake—or maybe it was my good fortune, actually—to a fashion party, and people thought it was Gucci or Rick Owens. I was like, “No, no, no, I made it.” I made connections at that party that started my career. I had no training.
Do you know why Indonesian patterns are so popular in Ivory Coast and Africa?
From what I read, and also because I work with VISCO, the leading company in the world of that cloth, it’s because in the 1800s, Indonesian prints were really popular in Europe. In England, France, Denmark: everyone was wearing them. After the Second World War, the Indian market became open to Europeans. So we got fabrics in Africa that were much more fine, shiny, beautiful, brought by the Dutch. And Africans really accepted it, I think because the patterns are colorful and warm. I’ve been to Bali in Indonesia, I went there to try to figure out why I was drawn to this culture that I barely even know. I found it’s warm. People live like in Africa. I think it’s more or less the same. Funerals are very lively. We have the same kind of values. I tell people in Africa that these are Indonesian prints, and they’re fighting, arguing with me, saying they can’t believe they’re not African. Because that’s what we got used to, that’s what we know, what our mom and pop were wearing. It’s a big surprise to many people.