Originally hailing from Côte d’Ivoire, Awa Meité has created a name for herself as a multi-talented fashion and textile designer, filmmaker, stylist and painter. Now based in Mali’s bustling city of Bamako, Awa continues her quest to spotlight local artisans who are responsible for some of the country’s most striking garments and accessories. Making her debut at Lagos Fashion Week in 2019, Meité grew up surrounded by her mother’s fashionable friends, including legendary Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, and fashion designer Chris Seydou (the one-time assistant to Yves Saint Laurent, known for his distinctive miniskirts made using mud-dyed cloth). Speaking in an interview with True Africa, the designer mused, “Early on, I was able to see, first-hand, how artists work.”
Mali is the largest cotton producing country in Africa and the sole source of income for over 3 million people. As a socially conscious designer, Meité is greatly concerned with all aspects of local cotton production and in 2007, she began what’s called the Daoula Project, an initiative that encourages local cotton production and the exchange of ideas around the widely used fabric. “I am a creative who is committed to promoting what is produced locally and to creating value within my society,” she told Industrie Africa. “In this case…[cotton] has become the emblem of the brand.”
At the heart of the brand is an eco-conscious mission, and a dedication to preserving local craftsmanship: many of her designs pay homage to the historical work and legacies of artists, artisans and designers to have come out of Mali. Meité’s eponymous clothing line features both a ready-to-wear collection in elegant, textural silhouettes and an adjacent accessories line. Most of her pieces are designed and produced in Bamako—which are made using cotton and leather—and are finished using traditional weaving techniques native to her home country.
- French Ministry of Culture, Female Achievement Prize, 2016