Tuesday, 18 November 2014

We're back!

After a short hiatus, we're very happy to be back on the blog! Stay tuned for some exciting Madame Tây updates, including where you can find us over the next few months and our plans for 2015.

Friday, 6 June 2014

West African Inspiration: Sisters of Afrika by Helene Daba

Like most young creatives in Dakar, Helene Daba doesn’t have an academic background in design or fashion, but pushed by a lack of beautifully made modern garments available in Dakar, she decided to launch her own brand, Sisters of Afrika (SOA), in 2013. Six months later and her business is booming – she has a large range of clientele in Dakar that come to her for the contemporary silhouettes and bright colours she uses so tactfully. Helene uses wax print, normally sourced from her travels in Benin, but also traditional West Africa bazin and pagne tissé.

Helene’s boutique on the majestic Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar is also home to the work of other young African designers. Helene is determined to promote the creative work of her African ‘sisters’ (hence the name ‘Sisters of Afrika’) and in doing so to raise the profile of the West African fashion industry.

Helene is very proud that her entire collection was designed and made in Senegal. As many of the young creatives I met in Senegal remarked, in a country where tailors who can easily copy garments abound, creating a fashion business can be difficult. Despite this, Helene is persisting and believes that young Dakarois are slowly learning to ‘consume local’ and to value items ‘made in Africa’. Given the success of SOA since its launch, it looks like she might be on the right track!

If you’re in Dakar, you can find Helene at 1 Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop or on +221 77 541 82 40 or +221 33 821 21 09. You can visit the Sisters of Afrika site to see more of Helene’s creations.

All photos courtesy of Sisters of Afrika.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

West African Inspiration: SRK by Selly Raby Kane

Selly Raby Kane in front of the old Dakar train station (Photo by Jean-Baptiste Joire

Selly Raby Kane is the young Senegalese designer behind label Seraka. With a diverse background, Selly brings an enormous amount of creative energy and uniqueness to the fashion scene in Dakar and indeed, internationally. She began Seraka in 2008 and since then the label has grown exponentially - both in terms of artistry and size. Selly has recently launched her A/W 2014 collection - Alien Cartoon. It is stunning mix of textures, patterns and lines with delicate wax print touches and lots of stonewashed denim and clear vinyl ponchos. The collection was shot by Jean-Baptiste Joire and Omar Victor Diop and the styling is impeccable. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Wax Prints with Christina

I recently relocated to Toronto, Canada not fully prepared for what it had in store for me, especially when it came to the weather.  Before arriving, I thought I would be rocking uber stylish winter outfits for a good chunk of the year. Instead I have been rocking a navy winter puffer coat stuffed with duck feathers for the past 5 months (imagine a sleeping bag worn vertically).

Needless to say, when I received a package in the mail with our bright patterned  wax prints, it really cheered up my day!

The weather has picked up to a ‘balmy’  10 degrees now and it’s time to bust out the short-shorts. Here are some photos of how you can style our Wax Print Blazer and our Wax Print Shorts.

Whoever said office attire can’t be stylish/fun, prove them wrong and team our Wax Print Blazer with some smart trousers and heels for a professional, yet fashionable look.  

Here, I teamed our Wax Print Shorts with a light denim jacket and a bright blue sweater  - given the shorts carry themselves, best to keep the top half of your outfit understated and simple.

For the brave, you could go all out and pair the above two as a twin-set combo which looks really fun. I initially accessorised the outfit with a thick, gold chain necklace and gold bangles and thought I looked really cool. Fact is, I also looked like I was auditioning as a backup dancer for a hip hop music video or something. Lesson learnt, keep accessories to a minimum when dealing with loud prints.

How would you style your MT Wax Prints?

Photos by me and Matt

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

West African Inspiration: Anne de la V by Anne-Marie Diatta

Today we're continuing our series profiling Senegalese creatives with Anne-Marie Diatta - the creative director and designer behind the label Anne de la V. Not only does Anne-Marie make beautiful contemporary garments, she also has a lot of exciting ideas about the direction of the textile industry in Senegal.

I met Anne-Marie Diatta by chance when I was in Dakar last year – and what a lucky meeting it turned out to be! Having spent a good part of the last few years working in garment sourcing in France, Anne-Marie has a wealth of knowledge about garment construction, including an incredible technical knowledge of fabrics, stitching, patternmaking and design. After studying fashion in France, Anne-Marie began working for some large fashion retailers and acted as the intermediary between these retailers and the manufacturers of their garments in Asia, namely in India and China. Talking to her about this work was fascinating – the amount of detail and care that went into each garment she oversaw is incredible. She also had a lot of in-sight into production in these workshops, and explained that this is, in part, why she returned to Senegal to begin her own label.

What I like most about Anne-Marie’s work is her attention to detail – she only works with the best tailors, and often sews many of the garments herself, and has a very broad knowledge of the local textile industry and goes to great length to source the best quality fabric, including beautiful silk, delicate chiffon and bright wax print from Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

 Anne-Marie also has some really exciting plans to begin her own garment production factory in the South of Senegal, where she is from. She recognises the capacity and capability of Senegal to become a big player in the global fashion market – not only does the country have a wealth of natural textile resources, but is also close to the European market and Anne-Marie passionately believes Senegal could compete with the likes of garment producing giants Bangladesh and China to make quality, affordable garments in ethical conditions.

Anne-Marie hard at work altering a stunning wax print gown.

If you are in Dakar you can find the Anne de la V boutique in Ouakam, Cité Asecna, near Brioche Dorée. You can call Anne-Marie on +221 77 606 6162, the store is open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Mint Tea Punch with Nonna Chong

Our friend Monica - a brilliant cook who blogs about food as Nonna Chong - recently came over to show us how to make her Mint Tea Punch. You can find the full recipe over at the Lonely Hunter blog: here.

We took a ton of photos, so these are some more shots from the afternoon...
Thanks heaps for sharing your recipe with us Mon! x

More photos after the jump...

Friday, 14 March 2014

West African Inspiration: Omar Victor Diop

I was thrilled to meet Omar at an exhibition held at a swanky new hotel in Dakar in December - I had seen his images online, and was particularly struck by the African remake of Frida Kahlo's 'The Two Fridas'.

Omar is relatively new to the art of photography, but has quickly developed a huge following in Senegal and abroad, and is in demand for designers and artists when it comes to promoting their new creations (Senegalese fashion labels Bull Doff and SERAKA have both had their recent collections shot by him).

 SERAKA by Omar Victor Diop

There is a real depth to Omar's work - he has a masterly eye for composition, and a wonderful aesthetic for all things textile and texture. He describes his work as lying somewhere between fashion and conceptual art, with a very modern edge. Working with French photographer Antoine Tempé, Omar created a series of cinematic posters which reference classic American and French cinema for the 'Onomollywood' exhibition. The below shot is an 'African remake' of the poster for "American Beauty".

Whilst my meeting with Omar was very brief, what struck about his work is how dedicated he is to promoting 'africanity' and 'normalising' the African continent by steering away from cliches images often associated with the continent. He acknowledges that 'Africa' suffers from a deficit of positive images, and even though it is important to be clear about the realities of life, it is equally important to show the normal, less-dramatic side of life on the expansive continent. He underlines that for him, it is important to highlight his experience of living in Senegal, because it means his work is authentic, and it gives a voice to the country, and to the continent in whole. 

Omar Victor Diop

Below are some photos from my favourite collections - Wax Dolls, which cheekily references the growing popularity of wax print fabric amongst the 'afropolitans' of West Africa. Given the history of wax, particularly in Senegal where the bright fabric is generally reserved for day-to-day wear, Diop cleverly plays with wax print's recent reemergence as a contemporary fashion staple.

All photos from Omar Victor Diop Photography

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Peekaboo Dress with Sarah

As my mum pointed out “this dress is nice but it has a great big hole in the back!”

The backless feature is in fact by design, but I can see what she means. The soft, drapey fabric of the Peekaboo dress is lovely and comfy for summer, but if you want to wear it backless and without a bra showing like in our photoshoot you may encounter some visible nipple issues. I think the options to get around this are:
  • Wear it without a bra, but buy these things. (Or - thrifty tip - wear criss-crossed band-aids on your nipples instead)
  • Wear it over a bikini to the beach
  • Wear it with a pretty bra, leaving the back of your bra visible
  • Layer with a fitted top underneath
I've been wearing the Peekaboo Dress with a bra and fitted black crop top underneath. Also I add a belt to pull in the waist.

photos by me and mum

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Style Inspiration - Elise

NAME: Elise Perriel 
HOMETOWN: Nante, France
CURRENTLY LIVING: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
OCCUPATION: French Teacher 

I met Elise last year when we shared a house together in Hanoi. It was Elise who helped to first spark my interest in tailoring clothes in Vietnam - she would often go on trip to the fabric market, where she would come home with these beautiful patterned fabrics, which her tailor Van would make into beautiful dresses. Elise has a fairly diverse wardrobe from casual sundresses to funky jumpsuits to ornate and elegant dresses. One of my favourites though is Elise's version of the peekaboo dress below - very modest from the front but slightly cheeky from the back! And, if you are flipping through these photos are wondering about her beautifully smooth skin - here is Elise's beauty tip - using old coffee grounds as an exfoliate!


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Snow White Chemise with Sarah

Hello everyone.

Much of our blogging so far has looked at production – but now that our clothes are finally ready for sale, we thought we could also blog about the end part of the process – wearing the clothes!

I’m going to pop in to the blog now and then and write about being the consumer in Melbourne.

I’ll do some outfit posts on our Madame Tây stuff, but also want to look at shopping from other ethical brands available in Melbourne or online. Since we started Madame Tây I’ve realised there are actually heaps of interesting clothing brands out there that are trying to be ethical and sustainable, and it’s not all hemp and twee-ness. I’m by no means any kind of consumer saint - my current wardrobe is filled with stuff from the usual chain store suspects. But if there are beautiful, well-designed alternatives available (which there seems to be more of these days), I think I could start shifting my wardrobe towards more ethical/sustainable companies pretty easily.

So, about the Snow White Chemise.

I recently went to Malaysia to visit my grandparents for Chinese New Year, and got a lot of wear out of this shirt in the hot weather. It's breathable and light-weight, with a loose fit, so it's a great basic for keeping cool. I like undoing the lower buttons and then tying a knot, to give the shirt more of a cropped shape. Here are some snaps from around my Ah-Ma's garden and the Taiping lake gardens.

Happy Lunar New Year of the Horse!

When I was flipping through old photographs I found this one of my grandparents, with my Ah-Ma wearing a sleeveless shirt similar to our Snow White Chemise! My Ah-ma tells me she made the shirt herself. She has always loved clothes and learnt tailoring when she was young.

photos by me and mum