Labo Ethnik: An Interview With Christelle Madoki

Labo Ethnik: An Interview With Christelle Madoki

An interview with womenswear line MADOKI by Christelle Madoki, featured in Paris' Labo Ethnik events.

Founded in 2007 by Yvette Taï-Coquillay, Labo Ethnik was created as a way to promote both emerging and established designers from across the globe on the Parisian scene. This year the 8th edition of Labo Ethnik will also welcome interior designers, adding visual arts to the festival’s roster. In the run-up to this year’s installment, starting May 22, we’ll feature some of the designers that’ll be participating in the 2014 edition. Below, we talk with Christelle Madoki, the designer of Parisian label MADOKI, a brand that crafts contemporary womenswear designs.

Poundo for Okayafrica: Who is Madoki?

Christelle Madoki: Madoki is my family name. I'm from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I grew up in a city called Lille, which is located in the north of France. I've been living in Paris for the last 10 years. I decided to use it as my brand name because it has a universal sound.

OKA: How did start creating? When did you start considering fashion?

CM: I've been drawing since I was a kid, as far as I can remember. I always used it as a mode of expression to illustrate my ideas and let my imagination go. My drawings always had in one way or another the notion of style and fashion, through female silhouettes in particular.

OKA: Did you study fashion?

CM: I didn't go to fashion school but I worked at a Spanish ready-to-wear company, where I learned about the whole process of creation. I was involved in the style options of the different collections for the French market. That's when I started considering designing and starting my own project.

OKA: Why a desire to promote 'African fabrics'?

CM: As soon as I started designing a collection, I drew inspiration from the familiar universes which I was sensitive to. Of course, wax prints found their way in my pieces. This type of fabric has so much variety in the prints that it gives you endless possibilities. Plus, I wanted to give to it more exposure because not so long ago, it was confined to traditional clothing.

OKA: What does Madoki represent?

CM: Madoki is a clothing brand for the free and dynamic woman who constantly reinvents her style, without regard to the fashion trends, her social category or community.

OKA: What are your inspirations?

CM: I'm heavily influenced by 60s style. For example, British models like Twiggy who wore vintage silhouettes that were both elegant and feminine. In general, I really like 60s high-waisted cuts, well-fitted curves and the fabrics used at that time.

OKA: How do you maintain your inspiration? How do yo renew yourself?

CM: I keep myself aware about people, my surroundings and the evolution of trends. I'm lucky I'm always around an artistic community where people feel free to demonstrate their originality in style. I find that my resources are constantly simmering. I also spend a lot of time going to second hand shops, thrift shops and flea markets. One last thing, the diversity of wax prints influences my work & designing process for new collections.

OKA: What's your artistic signature?

CM: Mix of materials.

OKA: What do you think of the evolution of 'African fashion'?

CM: 'African fashion' never stops evolving and, today, we can witness how it's earning worldwide recognition. There's more exposure and spectacular booming shows that fit the standards of quality and creativity in high fashion.

OKA: What will  be trending for Fall/Winter 14?

CM: The clear ambiguity between masculinity and femininity. Always some boyfriend cuts, accessories with menswear elements (ties, large blazers) but mixed with some feminine elements like a tube skirt or high waist.

OKA: Do you think that you're bringing something new?

CM: The blend of vibrant 'African fabrics' with a modern aesthetic is one of the most noticeable characteristic of my collection. However, I do think I'm bringing something new as I'm adding leather, lace and plastron beads to my garments.

OKA: You were recently featured by Kyf Ekamé on Tal's tour. This is a beautiful opportunity, did you get any impact on sales?

CM:Kyf Ekamé is both the choreographer and stylist on Tal's tour. He gave me a great opportunity by giving me the freedom to create a part of the show. It was a great collaboration and allowed to meet other creatives and work as a stylist for Mayra Andrade and Claudia Tagbo.

OKA: What does it mean for you to be part of Labo Ethnik’s 8th edition?

CM: It will allow me to meet a broader audience and meet with other designers. It's one of the biggest Parisian events, one not to be missed, where everyone gets together. It's clearly one of the events that gets involved in the exposure of  'African fashion.

OKA: Back to fashion, what do you think of 'African fashion' and what are your hopes for it?

CM: 'African fashion' is rich and inventive with a lot of risk-taking. I have not only hopes but certainties: take up more of the runway!

OKA: Describe Madoki in one sentence.

CM: A street wear brand that is fresh, rock and fun.

OKA: One word about Okayafrica. Okayafrica is...

CM: Authentic!