Lafalaise Dion is the eponymous brand of Dion Dewand Marcia Lafalaise, a visual artist, performer, designer, and former journalist. Based in Abidjan, the designer takes inspiration for her clothing, jewelry, art, and modern accessories from the Dan culture of the West of Côte d’Ivoire, particularly cowrie shells which have for centuries been part of West African cultures as everything from currency to symbols of fertility and spirituality. The self-proclaimed Queen of Cowries, Lafalaise considers her handmade creations to be an artistic extension and representation of herself.
“It is the legacy left by my ancestors,” Lafalaise told Design Indaba. “It is a way for me to reconcile myself with African spirituality, to show the world the richness and uniqueness of my culture.”
With cowrie shells as her primary material, Lafalaise offers everything from statement pieces and discreet accessories to high fashion dresses and works of art. She’s most well known for her elaborate headpieces, which are expertly assembled by hand and gracefully sit upon the head. Besides cowries, the brand also makes use of glass beads and nylon. Each piece conceived represents an aspect of Lafalaise’s personality and/or the most distinctive traits of various African deities. Using organic and sustainable materials is at the heart of her collections, seeking to have little or no negative impact on the environment by pushing for a circular economy system.
In 2019, Lafalaise gained worldwide attention when Beyonce wore her ‘Lagbaja’ mask in her epic “Black Is King” film. Since then, her brand has been embraced by the global community—including the likes of Novi Brown, Janelle Monae, and Olivia Yacé. In 2022, the V&A museum in London acquired and integrated two pieces of her 'Mami Watta' series to their permanent collection following Lafalaise’s inclusion in the museum’s “Africa Fashion” exhibition.
- African Talent Awards, Winner, 2019
- Ayana Web Awards, Winner, 2019