I had the opportunity to be a guest at the Heaven Gaia haute couture show in Paris this September 2019 during Paris Fashion Week. They haven’t had one in a few years here and it was simply a bliss and an honour for our magazine. ( http://www.esimbimagazine.com )
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂
1| The collection presented during Paris Fashion week was very strong with a lot of details in fabrics, from silk to organza with embroidered designs. Where do you source your materials?
The choice of fabrics and materials is always the basis of the clothing. We prefer the natural material for the fabrication, combined with the smooth and silky silk, so that the overall garment is rigid and soft, combined with the embroidery or Chinese elements.
2| What story did you want to tell your audience?
I have been influenced by the opera culture since I was a child, so the feeling of the Chinese quintessence is always accumulated. After so many years of accumulation, I can finally present this theme to everyone. We began to explore Chinese opera culture from Kunqu Opera,which is the origin of Chinese Opera. All sorts of Chinese opera are the most representative forms of culture. Chinese opera represents the most wonderful and most thoughtful things of our national culture. The opera, born of Chinese culture, represents the essence of Chinese art.
3| It had been a few years since you showed a collection in Paris. What were your expectations for this season?
This year is the last year of our series theme of “Take turns”. Our theme for this year is “combination”, which is different and harmonious. This show is the most exciting show, and it is culturally one. At the same time, more expansion and gain in our business development.
4| What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
In fact, every year’s defile is a challenge for our team, but at the same time it is a very pleasant journey. This year’s Gaia legend team is going to do two shows on the same day. It is also a very big essay. Thanks to my team, we really did a perfect job.
5| When will the collection be available for sale?
We can sell our clothing by request.
6| Is there a celebrity you dream of dressing?
I hope that everyone whoever loves Chinese culture can wear our clothing.
On Saturday 28th September, after assisting to the beautiful fashion show by Rahul Mishra, I decided to rush to the Magda Butrym showroom which i was looking forward to.
I received my invitation as press early September and was very keen to discover the collection for the first time. There was only half an hour before they close so I really had to rush from Palais de Tokyo to rue Royale.
Before hand, I had a look at their Instagram page etc.., and it’s true that I didn’t see much melanin but as every fashion brand is trying on the diversity trend, I didn’t think much of the lack of dark skin people on the images representing the brand.
When I arrived, I was the only black girl in the room. I don’t know if any came before me. Having lived in a village most of my childhood, I was very very often the only black girl in the room so that never bothers me.
The first room was for the shoes. A beautiful collection displayed on “roses” as the flower is very much into the brand identity.
I could see hostesses bringing out champagne to guests but no one coming to me. Again, I didn’t think much of it since i don’t drink so I went into the next room. And there was the collection and some live models.
The collection was beautiful and reminded me of fashion campaigns of Kate Moss and Saint Laurent. Very sexy, with a rock and roll vibe, some prints and tailoring.
After walking around, taking a few pictures and making videos, I asked an hostess to show me the PR person as I wanted to know about the inspiration behind the collection. I didn’t know if the designer was in the room.
The hostess pointed to a blond girl in an all white suit, wearing Magda’s collection. She came with a look on her face, probably wondering how I landed in her showroom.
I don’t like to assume people’s thought but this was the first time that week, that I fell like I probably should have skipped a showroom.
Asia, introduced herself as the PR and straight away told me how the brand doesn’t lend clothes, or actually only to certain A-listers and bloggers. They also only do shoots with models. I thought that was fair enough if it’s the brand identity they want to preserved. All these was said in less than a minute. She wasn’t interested in who I was so I simply said I came from the magazine and gave her my card.
She was standing in front of me with gifts for the press in a branded box. A girl came to her to say goodbye and she gave her one. She gave many to other people there too. After the less than a minute conversation with me, and giving a gift to the girl in front of me, she simply said “sorry I have to go there” and went to the other side of the room to talk to other girls. I thought this was rude but I don’t like to make scenes so I kept looking at the collection. I don’t know what was in the box nor why I wasn’t “worthy” to apparently get one as the other press did.
You don’t invite people to disrespect them. If you don’t want black people in your showroom then do a background check before sending invitations. The room was cold and unfriendly. I was there for 35 minutes. Maybe I was hoping that I was getting the situation wrong. I went to a third room and asked a hostess if the designer was here and she pointed her out.
The designer was speaking with someone so I waited on the side…. 10 minutes later, because I wanted to see how this will end, a lady came up to me saying ” I see that you are waiting, did anyone walk you through the collection ?” I said no. Her name was Anya.
Her bright blue eyes were kind. She talked me through the collection and the inspiration behind it. I thanked her for that and she said she would email me but hasn’t yet. It’s ok.
I left Magda Butrym showroom feeling very very upset. I went to Poland for fashion week once and was lucky to not experience racism. So experiencing racism from a polish brand in my hometown is not acceptable!!
We don’t like racism in Fashion.
You don’t need to like me but you have to respect me, and that goes vice versa for everyone.
My cousin said when I told her the story: “what did you expect from a brand from a racist country ?” And I responded “respect, because Paris is not Poland!”
I am very disappointed of this experience and was wondering rather to write about it.
I decided to do so because it is important that things change. I never want anyone to feel as uncomfortable as they made me feel.
I am sure the brand will continue selling to its audience but as their goal is international stardom with celebrities wearing the brand. The team at Magda Butrym should get used to seeing more people of colour. They are not many but we also walk in the fashion industry. From Naomi Campbell to Adut Akech, melanin is rolling throughout fashion and racism can’t seat with us.
Paris Fashion week this September was THE place to be!
I was covering the event for my magazine and got to meet my fashion Sheroes. I am still screaming inside. From one show to another I met Eva Longoria, Karlie Kloss, Alicia Silverstone, Jaimie Alexander, Coco Rocha, Carine Roitfeld, Alicia Aylies, Nandi Madida and Cindy Bruna. They were all super nice and easy to talk to. I am so grateful for all the opportunities to network with the brands and designers.
I had only 2 bad experiences but I really thought my first article should be about some tips to survive a week of marathons, showrooms, fashion shows, presentation, meetings and launch parties.
Rule 1: Comfortable shoes are a must
Why are your shoes important? Simply because you will walk a lot even if you go around in cabs. I wore pops on the first day and oh well, I suffered. The rest of the week I chose high knee boots and ankle boots with a big squared heel to help me get through the day. And it worked. I created simple but attractive looks for each day. I matched my clothes differently but always tried to keep it simple and classy so I didn’t feel like I was dressing up every day. It really felt natural after the third day. So my rule advice would be keep it simple but classy but always show your personality because that’s what attracts people. You can also keep a pair of ballerina in your bag, just in case 🙂
Each morning of Fashion week, I had a paper with my schedule for showrooms, fashion shows or whatever I had to do. Everything was in writing. The timing, the address, the date and the purpose. It really made things easier for me because once the event kicked off, i just had to pick up my paper by the day. Of course, some days may be disturb by another event doing up. Invitations are always coming especially when you have a media platform so keep an open mind and be flexible but not too much. Keep on your schedule and meet the brands that are important to your business if you have one.
Rule 3: Get your invitations in one place
PR houses usually send out paper/cards invitations by posts. It is more professional and classy for the brand. I love them and always keep the fancy ones. I wish I put one address to receive all my invitations so nothing gets lost. But unfortunately, I was not that wise and some didn’t make it to my inbox. Most of the times, there is a guest list at the door so if you forget your card, they can find you.
Rule 4: Take a fashion friend along
I had a “fashion friend” along with me. She took some of my pictures and I did the same for her. She loves fashion too so it was really nice to share this experience with her. It would be a waste to go to all these places with someone who does not appreciate the beauty of a runway show.
Rule 5: Check out the brand history looks
Each evening, I was looking at the social media of the brands I would visit the next day. This helped me understand where they came from and their history. It really made the dialogue easy because they felt like we knew the brand well and of course were interested in the products.
Kimhekim runaway show
Rule 6: Test your camera or phone quality for photos
All these rules are super important. Everyone want to create awesome content during fashion week. They want to take the best pictures and so will you. Unless you have a professional photographer with you, you need a good camera. This will come handy in shooting the catwalk obviously but also your own content. With a good phone camera, you will have great quality photos even for prints. Remember that, the light is key. Don’t take pictures if there is no natural light on the subject.
Me at the Dior store, rue Saint Honore, Paris
Rule 7: If you see a celebrity
If you are blessed like me and see a celebrity you admire, SPEAK TO THEM. They are human being. Don’t just ask for a photo because some would actually take time to speak to you. Be brave. You are in the same place and have something in common: the love of fashion and good style.
Karlie Kloss, Cindy Bruna, Carine Roitfeld, Alicia Silverstone, Jaimie Alexander, and Eva Longoria
Rule 8: If there’s no seat number, you are standing or your may be out!
Yes, that is correct. You always need to check if you have the confirmation of your seat number. It only happened once but I really would not want to be in he same situation again. We had email confirmation for a show on Sunday night like many there. It was cold and rainy so not the best weather. We had to wait outside until the people with a seat confirmation comes in. But in this case, they told us to wait 5 minutes as it was Standing. I told my colleague we should leave but we were already there so we waited a bit, as did many many others in the bad weather. After 25 minutes, the very mean girl at the entrance said no one could get in. You can imagine how upset we were. A lady came all the way from New York and also had an email confirmation, but this made no difference. Moral of the story is, some PR send out more invites than seats to make sure the place is full in case people don’t show up. Don’t fall in the trap and ask about the seating arrangements.
Rule 9: You cannot wear something twice
No, No, no, you cannot wear something twice. You will also need to plan all your outfits ahead so you have no stress during the fashion week. It is always good to choose something classic, vintage maybe and a current trend that will take you through the day from one event to another. During fashion week, the judgement level is so low (ah ah ah). People feel more confident in wearing what they want so you will see a lot of colours and extravagance. I personally LOVE it!!
The weeks were very important news for the African community. A cure for Ebola was confirmed and we all mourned a musical genius in a tragic accident, DJ Arafat.
The end of a cursed disease?
Until this week, 11th August, there was no cure for Ebola. But Congolese doctor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum has finally acheived the work of his life. This will save many people especially the ones currently suffering in Congo DRC. The solution is called mAB114, which was developed in DRC and the United States.
This made me really proud for my country but also Doctor Muyembe has proven once more that hard work pays.
The world has lost a music genius and African artists were present last week in Abidjan to pay their last respect. DJ Arafat passed away shortly after he had a road accident (motor) which put us all in shock on the night of the 11th August 2019.
This year, I made myself the promise to visit a new country, to educate myself and face the fear that some people try to put on me by telling stories from their bad experiences. Now when I fear something, I try to find a way to just do it and deal with the consequences. The opportunity came to cover the Fashion Week in Niamey, Niger and I was really excited!
The African Union also had a summit with all the head of States and I was invited to attend the gala dinner and the seminars.
The visa process was quite easy in term of what needed to be done. It was all online. The only issue I had was at the airport. I didn’t receive my invitation letter on time, so it took some a while for them to check through all the emails and let me through.
I was flying with Royal Air Maroc and the flight was good. I was lucky that none of my luggages were lost but many other people on the same flights did not get their luggages for days. When travelling, I must say that I always try to keep to a minimum number of luggage.
We were supposed to stay in a nice hotel but due to the Summit and the lack of available rooms, we simply had the worst time I could ever imagine. From one day to another, we didn’t know where we would sleep as everywhere was fully booked. Even hotels that had cockroaches as big as a mouse running like they rule the world. This definitely made the trip very difficult but the people were so lovely that I would like another opportunity to visit the country and be able to stay at the Radisson or Noom hotel.
This trip experience taught me the importance of going with the flow. It is true to say that not everything always go as planned but there is always a reason for everything.
The African continent has so many beautiful undiscovered places. I hope to visit many more.
Saturday 13th of June, I had the pleasure of attending the festival Afro Punk at La Seine Musicale, in Paris for the first time. Headlining the concert was Solange Knowles and Janelle Monae.
I must say that it was surreal to see so much creativity in one place. It was like being on a movie set where new characters coming out of nowhere every 2 seconds. It was amazing.
I made an effort to add some African touch to my outfit as I really didn’t know what to expect there. I was definitely NOT overdressed and felt like I could have been a little bit more extra. It was impressive to be in the middle of so much art.
They had massive flags which I obviously used to take a picture 🙂 . It was not easy with the wind but we managed to take something nice.
Here are a few pictures I took at the event. It would be great to hear your comments if you experienced this event in Paris or elsewhere. There is another festival in the desert that I was looking into but I am not sure I will be handle to handle all the nakedness that google search has showed me.. ( ah aha ah)
GOLD CHOKER, Tribal jewellery from NACHO JEWELS , a label from Argentina.
My friend came from Brazzaville, Congo to display and sell her clothing line, LIPUTA SWAGGA. If you have a minute, please have a look at her amazing work!
I went to Rome for the first time over 10 years ago. It was an unplanned trip and I didn’t visit much of the city so I was really excited to return in May 2019 and do the photoshoot with footballer Steven Nzonzi for the cover of my magazine.
A friend and I booked an Air B and B in Vatican City as we wanted to be able to do some sightseeing too. Big mistake. Although the apartment was lovely and close to a supermarket and a few other places, I had the worst weekend in an European capital of my entire life!
I love Italy, and I visited many places before for longer periods, Milan, Naples, Salerno, Capri, Grosseto, Florence, etc… but never I have felt the racism like that weekend in Rome. Of course, I am black and I get noticed but come on!!!!!! In 2019, can we just try to respect one another and get on with our lives?
Any coloured person I heard speak about Rome this year, had the same experience so I thought I would just write about it.
We had to take a UBER everywhere because Rome is actually quite big and beautiful. So much history to discover and the fantastic fresh food. But how does anyone explain a 10 minutes ride with UBER costing 60 Euros????!!!! Clearly, the Italians in Rome are like the French in Paris, rude without a cause. My best friend is Italian so I cannot find the words to say how much that weekend traumatised me.
The “regular” taxis all tried to rip us off as we didn’t speak the language so we thought at least with the rating system of UBER, things will be a bit better. The drivers were certainly nice but those prices completely outrageous. I guess, they have a reason to do this so “regular” taxis don’t get out of job. Hopefully in time, it will get better.
The food in Italy is always tasty. But the service is another story. In London, customer service is key and maybe we are spoilt with that, same for America. But Italy has a long way to go in treating people equally with the same respect!
I won’t name them here but they were SO rude that we chose to rent a flat instead. NO COMMENT.
We really tried to have a good time and Steven and his family made sure we felt at home. The Vatican was simply splendid and I really wish we had more time to look at everything.
FONTANA DI TREVI and other places we saw…
STEVEN AND HIS SISTER KAREN NZONZI
I did an impromptu shoot with my gorgeous red dress with my best carefree spirit in the middle of people staring at me like I was not part of the furniture. FUN TIMES!
We also had the honour the be invited by Steven to assist to his game, with his team AS Roma. Good thing, they won! And we got to see Ronaldo and Blaise Matuidi too!!
I hope you enjoyed the few photos. If you had a different experience in Rome and want to argue or add to mine, please feel free to share below or via email. I am working on adding content to our YOUtube Channel, ESIMBI Magazine and I can’ wait to share that later on.