Abidjan – The release of Beyoncé’s musical film, ‘Black Is King’, on
Disney +, was met with overwhelming positive reactions. As usual, the
artist was able to bring the public and critics together with her praised
and original work. From the music to the choreography, not to mention the
fashion, everything is meticulously chosen and presented. Speaking of
fashion, Queen Bey has once again highlighted young designers alongside
major luxury brands.
Among these designers, includes two Ivorian women: Lafalaise Dion and
Loza Maléombho. One became known in 2018 thanks to her creations promoting
the cowries and African spirituality, the other relies on local fabrics to
enhance women’s style. In addition to their nationality, the two creators
have another point in common: this is not the first time that they have
collaborated with Beyoncé.
The rise of these two designers is a part of the growing Ivorian art
scene which has seen increased momentum in recent years. From Dior with
Uniwax to Marc Jacobs and Laetitia Ky, international brands are taking an
interest in Ivorian designers and this trend is only beginning!
FashionUnited gives you a focus on three Ivorian designers who have been
able to grow their work beyond local borders.
At 24 years old, Laetitia Ky is an Ivorian artist who creates sculptures
from her braided hair. With 354 thousand followers on Instagram and more
than a million followers on TikTok, the artist won the Elite Model Look
contest in the category ‘Digital Creation’ in 2019. She then signed a
contract with the agency worth 50,000 us dollars, or 42,694 euros and more
than 27 million CFA francs (the currency used in Côte d’Ivoire). Last July,
Laetitia Ky teamed up with Marc Jacobs for her latest handbag campaign. The
brand asked Ky to create three images as well as a video presenting her
Laetitia Ky unveiled the images of her collaboration with Marc Jacobs on
her Instagram account: “It was the Elite Model World team that informed me
that I was going to work for Marc Jacobs”, explained the designer to
FashionUnited. “After learning about the brand’s expectations, I thought
about different ideas while waiting to receive the bags. The brand was very
open and they didn’t put any limits on what I could create. They were
willing to let me express myself and the inspiration came very naturally.
When I received the bag, I did all the work the next day in six hours and
sent the photos,” she added.
In addition to art and fashion, Laetitia Ky is committed to various
causes including feminism.
Loza Maléombho’s career took an international turn in 2016. That year,
pieces from her collection “Zaouli” appeared in the clip ‘Formation’ by
Beyoncé. Since then, she multiplied her successes and she dressed other
personalities of the Knowles clan (Beyoncé’s surname, editor’s note):
Solange, her sister and Kelly Rowland, her ex-partner of Destiny’s
“There is an awareness in the last five years in the African-American
community that they are becoming more and more interested in “Black-owned
businesses” and creating a bridge to the African community. We see it in
music, in the arts and more recently in fashion. I was fortunate to be part
of this wave of African designers that have seduced them,” she told Life
Magazine in an interview in August 2019.
Born in Brazil to a Central African father and an Ivorian-Ghanaian
mother, Loza Maléombho grew up between the Ivory Coast and the United
States. After studying at the University of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, she
worked in fashion in New York before returning to Abidjan (the economic
capital of Côte d’Ivoire) in 2012.
Lafalaise Dion’s story begins with a strong attraction to cowries: “I
think my passion for cowries was born at the same time as me. Since my
childhood, I have always been attracted to cowries, to spirituality, which
I called ‘the things I didn’t understand.’ Unfortunately, I couldn’t wear
them or I didn’t want to because there were preconceived ideas about
cowries, they were demonised a lot.” In 2018, however, she decided to
embark on this adventure after several years of research and documentation
on the origin of cowries and their significance in African culture. Very
quickly her creations travelled and she received orders from all over the
For the 27-year-old creator and journalist, this success story is also
due to digital technology: “It’s the strength of the internet and
Instagram. I think it is also the case for Laetitia Ky. Social networks
have allowed us, the creative people, to show our work around the world.
Even though we are more likely to be plagiarised, it remains an incredible
platform for exposure. There are no barriers, we are no longer in Ivory
Coast or France, it is a space where there are people connected across the
world. This space has also enabled her to win gold contracts: “It was on
Instagram that one of Beyoncé’s designers spotted my account while working
on a project with Solange Knowles in 2019. This contact led to
collaborations on two major projects for Beyoncé: ‘Spirit’ and recently
‘Black is King.’
This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR,
translated and edited to English.
Photo credit: Lafalaise Dion/ Beyoncé Youtube screenshot/Facebook
Laetitia Ky/ Loza Maléombho website screenshot