script> Africa Moto: June 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fashion: Sunbird Collection on the catwalk

Happy Monday! While I am working behind the scenes figuring out what next for Sunbird Collection, my ethical clothing and nursery decor company, I thought I would finally share some of the design work I did while I was based in Bamako, Mali.   

I created the pieces below as part of my Spring/Summer 2012 collection "classic meets Bamako" that I showed at the Chris Seydou Fashion Week at the Musee National in Bamako last November. Chris Seydou is the late Malian fashion designer who paved the way for emerging African fashion designers by putting contemporary African designs on Paris catwalks in the 80's and bringing bogolan textiles to the world stage. The textiles I used for the collection included handwoven bogolan, linen, printed cotton and dip-dyed cotton.

The fashion show, including my little red dress, was featured in the February-March 2012 issue of New African Woman, Femme Africaine, a Paris based magazine. It was fantastic to be featured in the award winning magazine, particularly in an issue that was jam packed with fabulous la mode, la mode, la mode from around the continent.

I would love to continue to collaborate with the fabulous artisans I worked with in Mali, but I'm unsure I can, given that I cannot go back there yet due the current political crisis. I am exploring working with textile artisans in other parts of Africa particularly back home in Zimbabwe and here in the U.S. While I figure it all out, do feel free to check back here for more Sunbird Collection news and updates.

Photography: Sebastien Rieussec

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fashion: Les Peches Mignons

I simply love these looks by Les Peches Mignons based in Bamako, Mali. The designs are so chic, colorful and lovely. The designer behind the brand is Mariah Bocoum Keita, a former model who lived in France before returning to Mali to create her own brand. The bogolan peplum top is one of my favorites. Mariah  represented Mali at the FIMA fashion show in Niger and is definitely ready for the international stage.

Mariah and I, and two other designers were scheduled to do a fashion show to promote Malian cotton in late March at the Institut Francais in Bamako that was canceled because of the coup.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

City Guide: Ouaga, Burkina Faso

At first glance Ouaga looks just like Bamako, my home for over two years. But when you look closer, you see that there are some clear differences between the two places.Ouaga is more laid back, the first thing I noticed when we crossed the border were people openly hanging out and having some beers including the women, you don't see that much in Mali. Next thing I noticed was the large number people riding bicycles instead of mopeds, which was welcome change. I would call Ouaga the more bohemian version of Bamako, which reminds me that I need to do a post about Bamako.

When the elected government in Mali was overthrown by a military coup in late March, my family was evacuated to Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso and then back to the States. Don't you just love the name Ouagadougou, I know its a mouth full, but I just love saying it.Ouaga-dou-gou...

Here my picks for Ouaga:


Stay at the : Karite Bleu, a cute, small boutique hotel with a nice garden and rooms decorated with African art near the international school.


Eat at  Espace Gondwana restaurant and art gallery, which is just around the corner from the Karite Bleu. It   offers good food, beautiful decor and lovely ambience. The space is made up of six different rooms named after west African ethnic groups: Gourounsi House, Toureg Tent, Mauritanian Tent, The Small Toureg Tent and The Garden  and Puelh Space. The owner is an avid art collector, and all the African artwork is for sale.


For one stop shopping and to get great prices on great arts, crafts and handicrafts check out the Village Artisanal de Ouagadougou, there are over 500 artisans and workshops and is pretty low pressure environment. I picked up some hand woven fabric, beautiful jewelry and handmade leather hand bags.

Have you been to Ouaga, what are your picks?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Senegal Retreat

...Hello! Last summer we went to relax at the beach in Saly, a charming seaside resort in Senegal. We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel and spent the week resting and relaxing on the sandy beaches and exploring the beach town.  The perfect weather in Saly was a welcome break from the heat and dust of Mali. I felt inspired by the brightly colored cute shops and homes and rich textiles.  I was looking through my old issues of Elle Decoration France and fell in love again with a colorful vacation home in Senegal and was transported back to Saly...

                     I love the brightly colored bathroom, towels and the Senegalese basket.

            Colorful cabinet by Senegalese designer, Ousmane Ndiaye.

          Wax print and bazin cushion covers, for a color filled outdoor space.

                            Wax print plates and placemats.

Obama print table cloth from a South African design firm. Wax print bench.

(Images: Elle Decoration )
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