Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Our Dakar Workshop

Alou working hard on one of two sewing machines in the Ouakam workshop.

Finding a space to work in Dakar wasn't easy. Luckily for us, our dear friend Anne-Marie Diatta (whose work we spoke about here) graciously allowed us to use her workshop in Ouakam, Dakar.



Singare, Alou, Anne-Marie and her apprentice Astou in the Ouakam workshop.

Anne-Marie's Ouakam Workshop is a small room at the front of a clandestine bar (Ouakam has a large population of Catholics, which is rare for the Senegalese capital) which would get rowdy as the sun fell each day. The workshop contains stacks of fabric collected over Anne-Marie's many years of fashion design, piles of design catalogues and reels upon reels of cotton thread in every colour imaginable. Alou and Singare would work on a large cutting table at the front of the workshop to create the pieces for each garment and would sew on two electric sewing machines, and a small overlocking machine. Electricity is notoriously unreliable in Dakar, so we'd often pause when the power cut out, taking the time to visit friends in the quartier, drink tea on the porch or sneak off home for a quick nap in the heat of the afternoon. 



Ouakam is a bustling suburb which has seen exponential growth over the past few years, with new apartment buildings springing up overnight. Ouakam is squeezed in between the Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport, and the Mamelles Beach with the Monument of the African Renaissance towering over the prospering suburb. Like all of Dakar, the streets of Ouakam are always busy with people selling their wares, children playing and people busily making their way to work. Ouakam became the heartland for Madame Tây in Dakar, with our most of our days spent in the workshop. 

The African Renaissance Monument during construction in 2012, in the foreground are the minarets of the Mosque of Divinity

Ouakam seen from above



Singare with one of our Dropped Waist Dresses

Anne-Marie is a Ouakam local, and generously gave us lots of local tips and introduced us to many of our Ouakam friends.  Anne-Marie provided invaluable technical support using her years of fashion training in France to assist us with tricky cuts and even trickier fabrics. She would also regularly bring us large plates of thieboudienne - the famous Senegalese rice and fish dish and she was always ready for a laugh at the end of a long day!



Anne-Marie in the workshop in one of her incredible creations.

 


Alou handling the delicate indigo cotton we used for our tie back top.


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