Tongoro Studio: Building An African Dream

Sarah Diouf is my favorite apparel designer and motivational Instagrammer.

She launched Tongoro Studio in 2016 and makes no secret of how tirelessly she has worked and (continues to work) to make it one of the most talked about brands coming out of Africa at the moment. In her own words, Tongoro Studio is “a 100% Made In Africa label providing clothing that offers style-conscious consumers quality, variety and convenience, at affordable prices.” To me, though, it is so much more.

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It has to be said that often, the industry’s treatment of products “Made in Africa” has a patronizing tone and feels like a Westerner’s on a goodwill mission. Sarah’s designs are so good, her connection to the continent is so rooted in love that her mission to boost production in Africa is just a matter of fact, and not some charity case.

Now, let’s talk about her designs. In short: magnificent, all around.

The Ngor Dress, Fitini Bag and Zanzi Ensenble at  www.Tongoro.com

The Ngor Dress, Fitini Bag and Zanzi Ensenble at www.Tongoro.com

The Tongoro signature is voluminous designs with prints that call back to its Dakar, Senegal roots that are, in a delightful twist, rendered in breezy chiffons and fluid cottons. The Ngor dress is a simple, off-the shoulder style with balloon sleeves that makes for a great pool cover up or summer date-night look. The Zanzi ensemble is a all-around dream; A loose kimono duster. A tie front crop top. High-waisted wide leg trousers with pockets. Ugh! It’s my ideal vacation wear (though, in my dream life, I’m in a tropical climate, so I’d be in crop tops and chiffons year-round).

If following Tongoro Studio on Instagram is buying into the dream of being on holiday year-round, then Sarah’s personal Instagram is a visually stunning testament to all the non-stop work and sacrifices it takes to build that easy-breezy lifestyle brand. Peppered between images of her designs premiering at Lagos Fashion week or a clipping from a Vogue write-up are Sarah’s testimonials about the doubts she has dealt with, her collection editing process, her identity struggles, the importance and power of self-reliance, and the incomparable joy of having one of your biggest dreams come true. Sarah is no stranger to hard work and her lofty ambitions demand it of her. In sharing all of this, Sarah is inviting us to dream on a grand scale and do absolutely everything required to see it to fruition. Tongoro Studio’s pieces are a treat for the body and Sarah’s words are a gift for the soul.

To paraphrase Kanye, to be a fan of Tongoro Studio is to also be a fan of yourself.

5 French Cool-Girl Brands That Aren't Sézane

We get it. All the cool girls in Paris wear Sézane. Who wouldn’t, it’s perfect.

But if you want to look like one of those gals that’s ~too cool~ to be caught anywhere near the 9th arrondisement (too many tourists), here are some other brands to look out for:

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Sessùn

I’d describe Sessùn as Sézane’s old best friend from art school. They’ve got similar aesthetics and price points, but there’s a thread running through Sessùn’s designs that says “I’m making art out in the country and came into town to get a coffee with you and see what’s happening on Rivoli”

Instagram: @Sessun

A super casual way to let everyone know that you ARE the party. By  PATiNE  available in various colors

A super casual way to let everyone know that you ARE the party. By PATiNE available in various colors

PATiNE-

Those tri-colored “La Boum” shirts you’ve been seeing all over? Yeah, they’re from Patine. Described as “future good vintage,” this online-only boutique sells shirts that are truly instant classics.

Instagram: @PatineParis

www.patine.fr



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Make My Lemonade

“Prêt à Porter et Prêt à Coudre,” this brand sells both ready-made clothes and sewing patterns. All the way up my alley. The best part? They embrace their creative community by hosting workshops on paper flowers, embroidery and tons more.

Instagram: @MakeMyLemonade

www.makemylemonade.com



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Fauvette

Fauvette makes some lovely little leather accessories. The bags are beautifully structured yet simple designs that have playful closures that are a subtle way to add some fun to your wardrobe. Designed by former Optician, Claire Rischette, this line is the result of a career change and is now housed in her Parisian storefront and studio she shares with jewelry brand Louise Damas.

Instagram: @Fauvette_Paris

https://www.fauvette-paris.com





Sandro Paris

Sandro’s got a full wardrobe to choose from- apparel, accessories, shoes. I’m currently wondering who I have to become to wear these leather trousers. The styling on their site alone is Parisian Cool-Girl turned up to an 11. Dad Shoes & Trench Coats. Statement Bags & Sweatshirts. Blazers & Tee Shirts. If you scroll far enough, I’m sure you’ll find hair tucked into a turtleneck.

Instagram: @SandroParis

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This list is in no way comprehensive, so if you’ve got a hot tip on your favorite French Brand, drop me a line. I’m never not window-shopping. Et voilà, mes chers. If adding more French girl style to your wardrobe is on your to-do list, these shops are not-to-be-missed, whether you’re buying directly from them or just getting inspired.

Here’s a playlist for your shopping.



Menswear-Inspired Shirting for Channeling Your Inner Miranda Priestly

The Palmer Harding Super Shirt is the answer to power suiting for the creative professional. The structure of the pieces gives the same power vibes as a Hilary Clinton pantsuit, but the full drape of the shirts says “Can we wrap this up? I have lunch with Kehinde Wiley in an hour.”

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I’m over the moon for London-based Palmer Harding’s designs- particularly the Super and Spicy shirts. The combination of the traditional oxford shirting with the opulent and unapologetically feminine details in the pattern are just spectacular. The large cuffs. The handkerchief hems. The volume. Ugh! It’s turning me into my mother, who is the only person I know besides Andre Leon Talley to use the word “faaabulous” in everyday conversation. But these shirts are fabulous.

The hi-low hem on the Super Shirt demands that it be worn as a shirt, not a dress. A dress inspired by men’s shirts has been done, and can be a bit plain. But the requisite layering of the Super Shirt automatically takes what could have been a basic dress and punches it up with the added color (and pattern? drama?) of a pant. Would you wear it with a tapered crop pant and let the shirt shine? Or maybe pair it with an equally voluminous wide leg pant and be one of those fabulous women who is always just draped in fabric (and, of course, you’d have to pair that with a pair of statement glasses, because as Big Daddy Kane says, “Ain’t no half steppin’.”)

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Here’s The part I love most: The asymmetry. We’ve all seen tent dresses and shirts. And they’re nice. They’re fine. But the bow on the side to contain the extra fullness on the front bodice is just such an unexpected and delightfully feminine touch.

Y’know, I’m certain that I just love this shirt because it is a piece that speaks to my wardrobe goal of being able to get dressed in a minute and look impeccably put together. It’s the one lasting impression that Breakfast At Tiffany’s made on me, and has become my ultimate objective in building my wardrobe.

Are you trynna get dressed in under five minutes, too? What’s the plan? I’m curious.

Love: The Anti Color

Truly Anti-Color, fashion stylist Jamie Lyons is the epitome of a minimalist both in dressing and everyday living.

You know how you’ll be scrolling through Instagram with a friend and see a beautiful something (house, outfit, coffee shop) and one of you reassures the other that “it’s all staged” and that “nobody actually lives like that”? Well Jamie actually lives like that.

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If you haven’t guessed, she’s not a huge fan of color or unnecessary frills and it is the strongest conviction. I mean, I’ll go out of my way to have beautiful objects instead of purely utilitarian ones but Jamie takes it to a level that is truly inspiring. So while I’ll buy nice bottles and pour my shampoo and conditioners into them for uniformity or keep a stash of Muji toothbrushes so I won’t have to switch to the grocery store atrocities, Jamie just bought a matte black sippy cup for her baby girl. Being around her makes you want to step your game up. And we all should.

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Superficialities aside, she’s also a wonderfully sweet person who only gets worked up when talking about Phoebe Philo leaving Céline. If you love fashion, New York City, minimalism, statement jewelry and a good neutral color palette, follow @TheAntiColor on Instagram. I, for one, cannot wait to see how she brings this minimalism into motherhood.

Love you, Jamie

xo