If you follow African fashion closely like we do, you will know the name Taibo Bacar is a name that commands attention across the industry. The Mozambican Fashion Designer who operates from his base in Maputo, had an interview with an Australian journalist Jayson McNamara a few months ago during Jayson’s visit to Taibo Bacar’s office in Maputo. In his own words, Jayson tells us of his encounter with one of Mozambique’s most celebrated fashion designers.
JAYSON: At a studio in a quiet residential zone of Maputo, I find Taibo Bacar. Before I see his face, I catch a glimpse of a man bouncing in and around the rooms of this cozy workspace. Striding into his office this balmy Monday afternoon in Mozambique’s capital, a firm shake of the hand, eye-contact strong, he’s in burnt orange chinos and a dark-grey V. He catches his breath and takes his seat. Let’s talk. Portuguese, English, Spanish, a little French. It’s up to me. At 26, Taibo seems an open book, transparent. Today I immediately sense the blaring fusion of his two principal personas, bossman and boy. He tells me that he recently returned from the International Herald Tribune Design Conference in Rome. The conference focussed on ‘The Promise of Africa’. It was in Rome where a one Valentino came across Taibo Bacar, or at least the designer formerly known as…. “It’s now, ‘‘Taibo Bacar after Valentino’,” he explains jokingly. Taibo smiles cheekily, pauses, and continues.
“It was amazing. I can’t put into words how his advice impacted me.” His eyes glare. At intervals I notice Taibo the boy, clearly nostalgic about the speed of his professional evolution from the small-time Mozambican designer to director of two burgeoning international fashion brands, Taibo Bacar and TB. It seems fitting that next to us on a lonely rack hang the few remaining pieces of his touted pret-a-porter Capulana range. Below are a few images from his ‘EGO Collection’shot by Joca Faria.
“There has been a lot of interest in Africa in the past few years after the world cup. As an African designer I had to respond to that,” he says. “The capulana is a uniquely Mozambican and African print that happens to be extremely desirable. I’m now looking at producing capulana prints in silk and chiffon for couture pieces.”
African fashion has emerged a clear beneficiary of the international exposure garnered during the 2010 World Cup. Taibo’s name is consistently floated as an example of this phenomenon, not least of all because he clearly has the talent to play ball.
Since his beginnings in 2007 his achievements have amassed at record speed. Already in 2008 he was named ‘Best Established Designer’ at Mozambique Fashion Week. By 2012 at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa Taibo had come away as the event’s ‘Best Emerging Designer.’ So why is ‘Taibo Bacar after Valentino’ not working from a loft studio in central Milan or downtown Paris?
“Mozambique is going through a phase of rapid development and I want to be part of it,” he explains. “I employ people here who send their kids to school, use health services and pay taxes. It’s about setting an example and being involved where you can.” Many of his staff seem eager to enter the dynamic realm of African fashion. They’re elegant, beautiful, well-spoken, clearly fed by the contagious aura of Taibo, their friend and boss. Taibo too seems to benefit from them. He tells me about the need to incorporate Africans into every aspect of the design process, not least of all to fit the clothes around a unique body type.
Taibo Bacar’s dresses are worn by celebrities like
South African Award winning singer LIRA
“As an African designer there’s a balance to be found. I regularly do fittings for local clients,” he says. “African woman tend to be fuller in the bust and waist. But then African models are smaller, European models even more so. It’s challenging. But I see this changing with the growing community of Africans in Europe in particular.” says Taibo Bacar
“I make clothing for women. By that I mean the feminine woman, the one who knows how to express her femininity in all contexts, who knows how to walk, talk and act like a woman. Imagine even a woman in the military,” he proudly tells me. “I do it for her.”
Collection Images by Joca Faria
Images of Taibo Bacar by Ricardo Franco
Feature by Jayson McNamara