ALPHADI PUSHING AFRICAN FASHION TO GLOBAL SCENE
The African Fashion Designer is the Afrophile behind FIMA
By Sophie Mongalvy
The west African country of Niger is better known for its poverty and at times its Tuareg rebellion -- not for fashion.
But out of this dusty and arid nation on the edge of the Sahara desert has emerged Alphadi, a man as colourful as his creations -- who is all out to
push Africa's fashion creativity to global prominence.
Alphadi is passionate about Africa, politics, development and discrimination, and strongly believes that fashion and arts are vehicles to spur the continent
on to prosperity.
His fusion of the Saharan desert experience and contemporary Western designs has his collections hitting the catwalks and runways from
one fashion capital to another, from New York to Paris, via Dakar and Bamako.
His designs are inspired by centuries-old African handicrafts including those by the Hausa, the largest ethnic group in West Africa, and his native Tuareg.
The "Nomads" couture collection features elegant and ultra feminine dresses in light silk or cotton print, some embroidered or woven with designs influenced by
Alphadi's native Tuareg savannah or natural lush vegetation.
Born to a father from Mali and a mother from Niger, Alphadi -- whose real name is Sidahmed Seidnaly -- created his label in 1984. He released his first couture
line in 1985 at an international tourism show in Paris to great praise.
He now spends his time between Paris and Niamey.
The father of six says he is forging ahead with a "battle" to "give Africa a chance to create" both arts and jobs. "You can do anything in Africa!" asserted Alphadi, sitting on a leather cushion in a corner of his shop.
Oil! Diamonds! Uranium! I understand. But there are also creative artists. These are the poorest, the poorest who create, who make jewellery,
embroidery..." he railed.
His own battles are many. Early on, he had to cope with rejection from his "very Islamic, deeply-rooted in religion" family of royal descent when his flare for
fashion emerged early in adolescence.
Fashion is a prominent element of popular culture throughout Africa. Fashion design design matters to people. FIMA is one of Africa Fashion design and promotion.