Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cameroonian Fashion Designer Is Featured on Canal Boat Cruise

The tourist bureau of Seine Saint-Denis, a French administrative department that lies just north of Paris, is actively promoting the numerous artists, musicians, and designers that live and work there. Last Saturday, it focused on two exceptionally creative designers who work with textiles - Andreéa Talpeanu and Lamyne M. - during a fun-filled boat cruise on the Canal Saint-Denis and the Canal de l'Ourcq.

Embarking for Fashion Cruise on Canal Saint-Denis
© Discover Paris!

While the boat cruised slowly along the canals, attendees were able to enjoy the scenery and learn about the history and architecture of the area thanks to commentary provided by photographer, architect, and historian Patrick Bezzolato.

Full House
© Discover Paris!

Patrick Bezzolato
© Discover Paris!

Andreéa Talpeanu is an artist of Romanian origin who creates sculpture from textiles. She performed in a thought-provoking one-woman show during which she seized and ripped items of clothing that she had distributed to the audience. Her goal was to raise awareness of the poor quality of many fabrics that are manufactured today and the waste that the use of these fabrics engenders.

Andreéa Talpeanu
© Discover Paris!

Lamyne M. and his fashions were the main attraction of the event. Lamyne hails from Cameroon, where he began his training as a tailor at the age of 13. Like Ms. Talpeanu, he is 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 design houses such as Yves Saint Laurent and Smalto to construct the finest garments. 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).

Wonu An Designs Worn Presented the Cruise
© 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.

Lamyne M.
© 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 to 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.

Professor Maya Thebault and Students Displaying Drawings of Giant Robes
© Discover Paris!

Mock-up of Giant Robe
© Discover Paris!

Photo of Accessory for Giant Robe
© Discover Paris!

The giant dresses will be shown in an exceptional exposition at Saint-Denis Basilica in 2015.

Instead of selecting professional models to present his fashions during the cruise, Lamyne chose everyday people from the town of Saint-Denis.

He also invited the audience to participate in the show. Two persons volunteered. This young woman...

Volunteer Model from Audience
© Discover Paris!

...and me!

Monique Modeling a Wonu An Blazer
© Discover Paris!

Lamyne's workshop is located at 9, rue Moreau in Saint-Denis.

Lamyne Takes a Bow
© Discover Paris!

For more information about Saint-Denis tourism, visit (site in French).


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