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Senegal's Fashion Designers Keep Tradition Alive

  • Anne Look

In Senegal, the recent Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha meant food, family and fashion. And the country's top designers have released their latest collections. From the catwalks and sidewalks of Dakar, though many call it "traditional" wear, there is nothing old-fashioned about it.

Peplum waists accentuate curves. "Lady Gaga style" puffed sleeves are all the rage. Designers are feeding wire through fabric edges to mold futuristic, wavy ruffles. Thigh-baring slits are raising skirts and eyebrows.

The colors are bright and when it comes to beading, the more sparkle, the better. Menswear tends to see more subtle changes, like new styles of cuffs or more embroidery.

Senegal's top designers have been sending their new collections down nationally-televised catwalks.

"Styles I learned when I first started out are coming back, like the women's two-piece outfits with mermaid cuts and wire-mounted details. These are things our fathers were making but we are modernizing them and mixing in elements from the West and we are adapting Western styles to Senegal," said Designer Mamour Thiam. "Like women are into the bustier-style dresses but they want to add sleeves for modesty."

He added what's old is new again.

Every outfit is made by hand and made to order. It's a collaboration between tailor and client. The results are one of a kind.

The sun has gone down on Tabaski, as the feast of Eid al-Adha is known in Senegal. It's time to head out in your finest to visit friends and family to ask forgiveness for any wrongs.

Senegalese say looking your best shows respect, and dressing up is just part of the fun.