Featured workOumou Sy: Dress from the Bour Sine: Hommage à Senghor collection

Senegalese fashion designer Oumou Sy’s 2006 collection Bour Sine – Hommage à Senghor was inspired by the figure of Léopold Sédar Senghor, an influential poet and philosopher who was president of Senegal, but also developed the seminal philosophy of Négritude, which promoted a Pan-African vision of African culture.

The fashion designer sought to embody Senghor’s ideals in her collection, which mostly used materials such as jute and raffia, combined with techniques of weaving, dyeing and embroidery. The combinations yielded sweeping dresses with minimal patterns, combined with imposing, majestic headdresses and masks. In this particular example, geometric circular shapes create an elegant, striking silhouette, where traditional patterns come together to create an asymmetrical ensemble that is truly contemporary. The combination evokes Senghor’s concept of métissage – hybridization –, which is also how Sy describes her style. The striking and influential collection was first presented in the context of the Prince Claus Fund, and travelled in the Netherlands, where it sparked debate and discussion.

  • Dyed plant fibers. Courtesy of Oumou Sy, Dakar © Photo by Thomas Dorn

    Oumou Sy. Dress from the Bour Sine – Hommage à Senghor collection, 2002