From apprentice to fashion icon: Ivory Coast’s Pathe’O, 50 years on

By: Reuters | Abidjan (ivory Coast) |

June 5, 2021 10:30:41 pm

When 20-year-old Pathe Ouedraogo left his Burkina Faso village in 1969 seeking a greater life in neighbouring Ivory Coast, his dream was to return with a bicycle and a transistor radio to show he had made it. He was too skinny to work on a cocoa farm, so took the possibility to find out how to make garments as a substitute – a call that propelled him to fashion stardom. “Essentially the most accessible job on the time was to be an apprentice tailor,” mentioned Ouedraogo.

The person largely generally known as Pathe’O is now celebrating a 50-year profession throughout which his signature informal shirts and clothes in vibrant African prints and materials have graced the shoulders of celebrities and political luminaries together with Nelson Mandela. His large break got here in 1994 when South African singer Miriam Makeba purchased 4 shirts from him as a present for the previous South African president. Mandela wore one and talked about Pathe’O’s title when requested about its origins throughout a visit to Paris.

The publicity sparked a rush of orders and gross sales that emptied his store and propelled him to the forefront of the fashion scene. He met Mandela in 1998. “It was a gathering that modified my life,” Pathe’O informed Reuters. “Within the village we’d hear about Mandela and Apartheid and all the remainder, I by no means thought I’d be a tailor, even much less gown him”.

He marked his 5 many years with a glitzy present and the launch of a brand new boutique in an upmarket Abidjan neighbourhood, whose partitions are adorned with footage of him with well-known folks together with Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote and Morocco’s King Mohamed VI, and presidents together with equivalent to Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Alpha Conde of Guinea sporting his shirts.

Pathe’O now sees his mission as doing extra to promote African fashion. “Africans themselves are nonetheless hostile to sporting what’s made in Africa. That’s the true drawback. That is the true battle at the moment,” he mentioned.

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