If you want to know a little more about me, my work and my inspirations you are in the right place.
Who are you ?
So my name is Nafissath Abdoulaye.
I was born in 1976 in Cotonou, Benin, central-west Africa. I am the third in a family of five children. I am a professional photographer/painter, I live and work in Nantes.
In short, I’d say I am someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s friend, someone’s enemy, the companion of someone and maybe one day mother of someone…
Why do you always Differenciate Who I am from What I am ?
First because I come from the Art world, thus my inspirations are diverse as much as people I met and believe me in the Art world you meet really outstanding individuals.
‘What I am’ is then a kind of final product at a given time of my life with all its implications in terms of evolution, through encounters and understanding the world.
We modify our way of thinking, working as the years pass, we enlarge our understanding of Life.
I am someone who does not reject systematically someone as soon as he’s different from me.
I love black humor and cynicism. I’m a great anxious and I doubt all the time but ironically that’s what keeps me going. I come from two cultures and I draw the best from each side. I like to feel the anguish of uncertainty to succeed or not. I have a passion for Asia.
I also have a huge passion for architecture and design. I am uncompromising and I hate bad faith. I like solitude a looooooooot and it always amazes me how people need constantly to be surrounded. I’M NO ONE’S FAN.
I highly despise what only shines through critics and to whom it’s the only way to exist. Not being curious is something that I hardly understand as much as not daring.
What relationship do you have with your body ?
A complicated one as many, I think. In my case the complication arises from the fact that I’m an electric wheelchair user. I am labelled as a «disabled person» but I must say that I reject this assertion. I consider that it is society that disable me and if this society does not understand the need for access to all our living environment then people suffer from an understanding handicap in their heads…
What is fashion for you ?
In general fashion is somehow a reflection of our identity but this is not always the case. Some people have absolutely common outfits and prove to be unusual and atypical when discussing with them beyond what they give to see.
Fashion is the first man to man exchange, even before language. It’s a body mask that allows us in all cases to reveal our personality, at least partially for the people who want it.
When you see a young woman wearing a baby doll outfit or a child-woman naturally it tells us something about her. Although I do not like a given style I like people who assert their identity in an outfit that says something about them.
Fashion is of course a reflection of society, of an era. It has been subversive for centuries and will probably be for centuries to come.
Why did you choose the +size fashion ?
I did not choose the +size fashion, I have the feeling that it chose me.
I started to show my work via the blog alaurorejesuisnee.com. Jordane is a young woman whose measurements do not fit the standards of « normal » fashion since it is beyond the 42/44. You should know that before starting this blog I started making outfits for my close friends, my little sister among others, who wears a 38/40 and the women in my life wear sizes between 38 and 60. My ambition is to dress women of all shapes and sizes and make them feel comfortable and confident.
The issue of curvy woman, skinny, thin does not interest me somehow. I assume that a body is more complex than this reduction to its occupation or spatial volume.
I think the fashion industry, the Ready-to-wear, fails to understand the body. Over the centuries it is the body which was at the service of fashion while the opposite should occur instead. It is unlikely that we come to this. You realize that clothes are designed according to tyranny of thinness and then the bodies are supposed to be be malleable enough to fit these clothes. I am all the more appalled to find that no one seems to find it really stupid. I think the +size customers struggle in a bad way and pose as victimis too often. They remain in a form of resilience that leads to not ask what they have the duty and the right to express. We should boycott more and when sells will drop maybe brands will wake up and realize that this Fashion and Brands have to fit the body and definitely not the opposite.
Thinking about it, it may be an utopia but I really wonder how to act more efficiently.
Fortunately there are designers who are really start to be aware of this and act accordingly.
Do you think that fixing size standards is convenient for the Body ?
Myself as a designer I have to choose sizes although ideally my dream would be to produce tailor-made which is more logic. A body is complex and requiring to enter molds is not consistent. The body is not a play-dough and is full of nuances. You can be Slim/Skinny and have wide hips and a luscious breast. You can be Curvy/Large and have a very thin waist and small breast. Apart from the height and many other criteria. Jordane always fluctuates between 46/48 and 54, my sister oscillates between 38/40 and 44. These dimensions say a lot about a body and should lead the fashion industry to reflect on new sizes standards or new ways to make clothing.
Do you think fashion design should be considered an Art as well as Photography, Film or other ?
For years I’ve been questioning the fact that there are only seven main arts and as the years pass, I am more and more amazed by the fact that Fashion is not perceived as an Art. Fashion Stylists are equally visionary and representative of their time and cultures as a filmmaker, painter, architect and so on. I think it was criticized for the way it clearly displays its mercantile factor since we design clothes to be able to sell them. Thus, the Art world, wraped in a cloak of vanity and elitism, excluded fashion probably because of its root into «the vulgar» and claim that true Art (according to this world’s criteria) questions our link to this «other» who is not us…
You see, I speak like a true artist, making verbiage instead of going into the simplicity and truth of things.
Fashion is the truth of things pragmatically and that’s a little too « popular » for the Art world.
The Art world loves to create the illusion that in this universe there is no mention of money but rather «exchange» or «acquisition».
Can you describe the N’sqol woman ?
This is a woman who applies the adage be in great shape because it is well known, when you’re in bad shape people will flee (wicked laugh).
This is a woman who never apologize for being what she is, even though she feels despondent at times. She wants to ta ke anyone’s place but hers. She is a woman who understands that her forms are not the only things that define her and has the means to establish both her perceived body and her lived body because this made her a representative of the diversity of her time.
Do you think we can grab the identity, the story of a person through his clothing style ?
Absolutely. Following every trends does not prevent you from choosing things based on our identity invisible to others but known from all.
This is the final product that can be read in our fashion choices. When it is used to do something subversive it says something from it. Ditto for a woman who devotes herself to a lolita look or a female child, through this visual construction she tells us about her.
It’s weird but I like feeling repelled by the look of someone because it makes me interesting and wake my humanity. Someone who grows too much perfection and zero defect attract me as well.
So yes, you can enter a part of someone’s identity through his clothes.
Are there some designers that inspire you ?
Yes. I absolutely love the creations of Jean Patou, Courrèges, Nina Ricci, Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin , Cristobal Balenciaga , Hubert de Givenchy , Yiqing Yin, Sandra Backlund, Mary Katranzou and I totally admire Iris Van Herpen et Alexander McQueen who is no longer with us.
Fashion has lost this theatrical side that only he (McQueen) could master brilliantly.
Are there eras that inspire you ?
Without any hesitation the 30’s/40’s/50’s
Do you have any icons that correspond to the idea of fashion ?
Dorothy Dandrige, Rita Hayworth, Maureen O’hara, Erta kitt , Lauren Bacall , Danai Gurira , Joséphine Baker , Billie Holliday, Mirna Loy, Vanessa Williams that I find beautiful. Lucy Liu whose looks of her character in the series «Cashmere Mafia» are just amazing. Nina Simone, Myriam Makeba, Pearl Bailey, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly in «Rear window», Diahann Carroll, Janelle Monae but I do not like her music.
Well, I am fully aware that most of these women have people helping them to dress.
What do you like in Fashion ? What do you hate in Fashion and what is a ‘fashion faux-pas’ in your opinion ?
In Fashion I like the Male/Female mix. In fact I love androgynous looks and anyway, I like androgynous people.
I hate when people do not wear clothes their sizes. If I could I would sometimes undress people to put them clothes tailored to their silhouettes. That’s it for me a ‘fashion faux-pas’.
In the ready-to-wear are there any brands that you love and you do not like ?
I like Evan’s, H & M but it depends because I do not find a lot of interesting things in the large size range and I think it’s often dark. I like some products at Taillissime sometimes and I adoooooooore Asos. I absolutely do not love Kiabi because I think they did not understand the expectations of their clients. Anyway I clearly do not belong to their target. I will be fair to Kiabi as they have recently released a capsule collection with pieces that I find absolutely adorable so I’m saying «do not bury them too fast». The brand is really starting to modernize itself. I do not shout victory but for the time they finally seem on the right track.
Is there something that particularly sicken you in the treatment given to the + size Fashion ?
Haaaaaaaa the large size range is always on the far side of the beam, next to the maternity range, as if we were the shameful class of Fashion. I know that some people think that way but I find it pathetic that retailers perpetuate this. They don’t seem prepared to change their behaviors.
They should grow a little because they do not help us to love them.
Do you think that there has been breakthrough innovations in Fashion ?
3D printing is a major innovation. To me this technique is a true revolution in the fashion industry and the World because it will revolutionize medicine and science.
Are there things in Fashion that you would like to learn to do ?
Create things in 3D printing because it fascinates me and I would love to know how to make shoes and hand out justice to my sister and me as we carry big sizes: 44 for me and 45 (EUR) for her.
Besides, last year Kiabi released adorable shoes that stopped at 42…
I’m still upset…
Do you prefer men’s fashion or women’s fashion ?
Imagine that I prefer menswear because it’s easier to mix and to me a woman dressed as a man is classy, sexy and daring.
I adoooooooore men shoes and bags.
When you decided to get into fashion and that your creations were known to the general public, were there some behaviors, attitudes or hurtful words against you due to your particular situation ?
Yes but I don’t expand on that any more. It’s understandable that people shut myself in the disability box, the ‘handicaped that creates clothes’. It is not common after all, and since we do not do things by chance it is this wheelchair that gave me the freedom to do unexpected things in life. I agree it is a bit heavy to be indexed this way but I can not prevent people to reduce me to what suits them even if it never comes from a bad intention.
Do you think being in a wheelchair is an asset to create ?
Yes, because strangely, I have a vision of a wider body. I constantly observe all the movements of non-handicaped people in everyday life.
Do you think we live in a misanthropic society ?
Yes, but I think we’re misanthropic towards ourselves first.
We reject and fight constantly against what we do not like within ourselves. We spend a lot of time wanting what we cannot have, so that if we eventually get what we covet, I know we’ll still find things that bug us and we won’t be glad enough about it.
Man is like this and I believe it is vital and a great need for him to function this way to achieve goals and meet challenges. Misanthropy towards oneself is the unavoidable condition of our own construction. We feel reassured and we are thus confirmed to be different from each other while struggling, which make us authentic.
The only problem in all this is that we are all motivated by the same things, the same dreams, the same fears that are:
love, success (personal achievement), happiness and death expectation that we try to deny as long as possible.
Misanthropy is the essence of humanity and the need for everyone to cower in their social group, racial and other. To make sure that we exist we need not to recognize in each other, find a reason to reject one and thus help us assert our freedom to be who we are and not who someone else’s want.