Photos

Prêt-À-Poundo: Tai Chunn Presents Elie Kuame Couture [NYFW]

Fashion expert Tai Chunn with MVC Foundation presents Elie Kuame Couture during New York Fashion Week.


*Elie Kuame Couture - Black Fashion Week Paris (Photography: Nicolas Romain)

Ivorian/Lebanese designer Elie Kuame has never been the type to back down from the challenge of bringing together contradictory styles. Kuame has designed incredible pieces over the years that combine his distinct, stylish signature with creativity. His creations show a unique ability to assemble materials that worlds apart from one another  like lace, leather, silk, gazal, crepe, fur pearl, tree bark, precious stones, and many others.

*Elie Kuame Couture — BFW Paris                                                        *Designer Elie Kuame — BFW Paris (Photography: Nicolas Romain)

Born in Belgium and raised in the Ivory Coast, Kuame rapidly developed a contemplative gaze on women in his family, particularly his mother. He claims he was fascinated by feminine grace, elegance and beauty. In 2006, while he was living in France, Kuame merged his artistic talents with his passion and founded his own line Elie Kuame Couture. Since then, he's dedicated his designs to enhance women's beauty with elegant, stunning, striking, and breathtaking attires. Elie Kuame crafted his art in France, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, China, and has demonstrated his talent in Gabon, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and French West Indies.

*Source: Joe Kohen/Getty Images North America

His New York Fashion Week event was organized by fashion expert Tai Chunn for the Monique Vanessa Chunn Foundation for Cerebral Brain Aneurysm Research. In 1997, Chunn founded the MVC Foundation in honor of his sister who suddenly died from a cerebral brain aneurysm. Since then, the foundation has become one of the leading runway production companies in the fashion industry.

"I have had two loves my entire life: fashion & sister," stated Tai Chunn, "I used to sew outfits from the sleeves of our old clothes and help my sister create cheers for her cheerleading squad (she was captain of course). We shared many secrets and dreams; it's only suitable that I combine both loves during the legendary NYFW! MVC Foundation is a homage to my sister Monique Vanessa Chunn and Elie Kuame is what kept me in fashion for over 20 years! He has that twinkle in the eye of a young designer that gives you that grumble in the pit of your stomach. What keeps me honest is being able to give back to the world the love my sister gave to everyone she you touched in her short time on this earth."

*Source: Joe Kohen/Getty Images North America

*Source: Joe Kohen/Getty Images North America

*Source: Joe Kohen/Getty Images North America

*Source: Joe Kohen/Getty Images North America

Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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