Imane Ayissi paid tribute to ancestral wardrobes — and to the female form — with a celebration of draping and layering inspired by the wrapped cloth worn in many parts of Africa, exploring “the link between the body and the cloth,” he said.
The Cameroon-born designer often juxtaposes traditional dress fabrics like satin and taffeta with ancestral crafts from across Africa. Here, he brought the two together as a coherent whole.
More from WWD
In black or vivid jewel tones, he wrapped layers of satin and taffeta around his models. Wide pants and pencil skirts were the backdrop for the tone-on-tone layered silhouettes. Wide strips of fabric formed dramatic offset bodices with train and bow details, accentuating bare shoulders, while draping provided voluminous peplums and bustles, highlighting the waist or hips. This was the backdrop against which he set his celebration of African crafts.
He incorporated Kente fabric in a striking combination of pencil skirt and cropped, collarless jacket with kimono sleeves, or as the bottom half of a halter dress.
Rough-dyed, bandage-like strips of the traditional woven textile — their width determined by the hand looms they are made on — were transformed into simplistically poetic gowns that had been stitched together directly on live models, their graphic bodices revealing the skin beneath, their skirts like giant fringes in motion on the runway.
Raffia, another of Ayissi’s signatures, was less present and more impactful. It formed a cape and skirt on one vivid fuchsia number, or graphic bow-like bundles spliced across the front of a scarlet minidress. Elsewhere, he adorned his bodices with circles of fabric centered by buttons, a signature he began playing with a couple of seasons ago, or with 3D appliqué flowers made with tree bark.
Launch Gallery: Imane Ayiassi Couture Spring 2024
Best of WWD