Senegalese fiber in Paris


“Totems” (2022), by Cheikha Sigil, in embroidery threads.

For fashion brands, often subject to accusations of cultural appropriation and eager to appear ever more responsible, choosing a distant destination and contenting themselves with parading clothes there can seem anachronistic. But the luxury industry, eager to maintain its globalized trade, does not want to give up on making fashion dream and travel either: it therefore increasingly accompanies its purpose with cultural or heritage side effects, by developing a dialogue more in-depth with the country in question.

Dior in Mexico recently, but also Chanel which, as part of its Métiers d’art collection, whose show was held in Dakar in December 2022, participated in the renovation of the courthouse in the Senegalese capital. and set up a collective exhibition of works showcasing textile know-how. This hanging is now visible in France, at 19M, a multidisciplinary place open to the public and headquarters of eleven of the twelve art houses owned by Chanel (Lesage, Montex, Goossens, etc.), Porte d’Aubervilliers, in Paris.

In the center of the gallery, is installed a “dream baobab” in fabric from which flying fish are raining, imagined by stylist Selly Raby Kane. Around are hung paintings by experienced visual artists from the Dakar scene, such as Aïcha Aïdara (1969-2023), who mixes acrylic paint and threads woven directly from the canvas, or Viyé Diba, who assembles scraps of fabric into a mosquito net that serves as a support for his painting. Further on, the recovered textiles also form the canvas, embellished with embroidery, of paintings by Alioune Diouf, dazzling portraits of a Saint-Louisienne or a “bearer of wisdom”, while leather and wax, in striated bands, marry in a sculpture by Cécile Ndiaye which floats above the heads.

“Devoted Women” (2022), by Manel Ndoye, in strips of fabric.
Photographic prints from the “Anonym(us)” series, by Malick Welli.

In this wandering, the works drawn from a collaboration between Paris and Dakar are particularly moving. This is the case of the loincloths decorated with tangy and naive landscapes painted by the Frenchman Julian Farade and which embroiderers from the village of Ngaye Meckhé then personalized with frogs, suns or birds. Or circles a good meter in diameter offered by another young French shoot, Pauline Guerrier, and which Dakar residents have dressed with lines of stretched threads.

Two of them are shown next to improvised watercolors. Like a diary kept by the artist during his three weeks in Senegal: we read his wanderings there, from the observation of the birds which nibble plastic waste in the streets to his strolls between the stalls of the fish market. Valentin Perez

“On the wire: from Dakar to Paris”, at 19M, 2, place Skanderberg, Paris 19e, until July 30.

Read also: Fashion in Dakar, a passion in the midst of a revolution


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