What does fashion means for you ?
Fashion is for me my field of work and research. It is a domain where I can express my observations of the world and tell stories. I have a strange relation to fashion which I rarely consume or buy, I prefer to design it or have a piece of clothing given to me.
What influences your fashion choices ?
It is difficult to answer, I feel we are all constantly pushed to a non-choice in terms of affirming our experiences with clothing. We are constantly told what to wear and can be drawn into an ocean of perfect images. I do not say I am not glad to see sometimes more diversity shown in fashion – in mainstream fashion advertising – however, models would still correspond to a western idealistic view on non-white bodies. Showing what should look like an acceptable, for instance, Black, Arabic, Asian, looking person.
As a Black gay guy, would I wear a more feminine outfit for a job interview or a tracksuit to travel via an Airport? Unfortunately, I would think twice before dressing up. I live in a cosmopolitan area in Brussels where pressure towards fashion is inexistent. It makes me more relaxed.
Do you have a piece of clothing that you treasure?
I do cherish one of the rare pieces of clothing I designed for myself when I discovered that I could treat myself too. I requested my friend Amadou to stitch it in 2017 after a trip to India where I came back with Baranas saris and fabrics. These fabrics are woven on handlooms. On the rare occasions when I wear this gown, I treasure this fabulous technique and how much work has been put into it : sometimes a few weeks of craftsmanship.
I feel very humble in front of all the work put into this textile and my participation as a designer is not even necessary. This industry of handloom Baranas textiles is facing huge difficulties due to competition with mechanical looms and I hope this beautiful work will still remain.
What does ‘decolonising’ mean to you ?
Decolonising for me means facing old demons, looking right into the eyes of these vicious behaviours and views on the world. Decolonising as well means to not hesitate to step in, shout and shatter all these micro and macro racist aggressions, wherever you are, even if you become a « killjoy » to quote Sara Ahmed and sadly, the fashion industry does not want to stop enjoying itself.