On paper, we would not necessarily have bet on this collaboration. The association between Jeanne Damas, influencer-entrepreneur, and Lamine Badian Kouyaté, Malian designer based in Paris, pioneer of upcyling, may indeed surprise, as their creative universes seem so distant. A style that surfs on the eternal cliché of the Parisienne for the first, a do-it-yourself aesthetic inspired by grunge and funk for the second.
However, the two stylists quickly found commonalities. “Jeanne’s Paris is not uniform, it combines multicultural influences and very different neighborhood atmospheres. We share the same vision of an emancipated woman and, I believe, spontaneity,” emphasizes Lamine Badian Kouyaté. “Collaborations are more interesting when they don’t make sense”, adds Jeanne Damas, who founded her brand, Rouje, in 2016.
The duo met last year through the Malian singer Inna Modja, godmother of the Maison des femmes (MDF), an association based in Saint-Denis which supports, thanks to its care unit, women victims of violence. “We were both present at the National Order of Merit ceremony at Inna and the current immediately passed between us”, continues the creator, who inspired one of the characters in the film Ready to wear (1994), by Robert Altman.
A multitude of looks
For several years, Jeanne Damas has been creating capsule collections under her label, the profits of which are donated to the MDF, founded in 2016 by gynecologist Ghada Hatem. Today, there are around twenty similar structures, in Marseille, Tours, or Rennes… In 2021, the entrepreneur became an ambassador for the association, giving her visibility thanks to her million and a half followers on Instagram. “Lamine is a fashion icon, a pioneering designer of committed fashion, she enthuses. The stylists on my team are fans of his brand, I thought we had something to do together! »
Accustomed to solidarity collaborations, the founder of Xuly.Bët (“open your eyes wide”, in Wolof) immediately accepted the project and proposed to Jeanne Damas to parade for the 30th anniversary of her brand during the fashion week of October 2022. “It was a happy brothel in the middle of the street, I loved it! I hadn’t paraded since Jacquemus’ La piscine show in 2013.” says Jeanne Damas.
Together they created three pieces – a dress, a skirt, a top – available in two prints (floral and polka dot) and a unisex t-shirt. The Stretch models are inspired by the Xuly.Bët archives, revisited Rouje style: the traditional topstitching by Lamine Badian Kouyaté gives way to a lace finish. Each piece, made in Paris in a limited edition, can be worn in different ways, allowing a multitude of looks.
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