Words by Katie Farley
Effortlessly executing classic silhouettes that arrive refreshed and refined, Maison D’Afie extracts inspiration from her West and Central African origins and creatively apply them to collections of sophisticated streamlined dresses that are characterized by astonishing striking details. Frequently favoring customized breathable materials, the label collaborates with a cohort of artisans in India, Cameroon and across mainline Europe, who collectively contribute to the culture-infused, well-tailored and sophisticated pieces.
Maison D’Afie’s creations transition naturally from one season to the next, enabling their clients to continuously fall in love with their aesthetic. A vital element within the brand’s ethos is to illustrate the values of styling with a sustainable approach, maintaining that quality over quantity is the one correct method to stand the demands that occur amid the fashion industry and is a new accountable attitude to humanity and the ecosystem.
Sarah Devine Garba, the creative brainchild behind Maison D’Afie focuses on her intuition for the brand and specifically draws attention to her client, boasting unique qualities that make her different to other designers in her field. “I follow my personality and let my client decide what makes me different. I do not focus on trying to be different because that is competitive and comparing myself or my brand to others is quite distracting from being the best I can be.”
Sarah’s mother is at the epicenter of her much-loved label, where it is named after her, a woman who transpires as a dressmaker in Cameroon and creator of “Afie of Douala” a dressmaking business she directed during the 1980s and 1990s. Initially originating in Cameroon, her mother’s artistic world greatly influenced Sarah’s passion for design, where she was exposed as a child to texture, color, and prettiness. At her mother’s Atelier, the young, inquisitive girl undertook the position of seamstress that essentially informed her beginnings and therefore adopted an early knowledge of cut, fit and proportions –techniques which evolved in her older years working alongside her mother.
The inauguration of Sarah’s brand was a fantasy entertained from her upbringing to direct her mother’s business and stage her talents to the world. Now, as a successful creative director, she chooses to follow her individuality and remains authentic. “The world of fashion is too vast for me to pretend to bring something that has not been experimented elsewhere. I am here to showcase my experiences, my culture and my authentic self; being in this universe offers me an opportunity to learn about other cultures and to draw inspiration from the intersections of each of our heritages.”
Initially, Maison D’Afie choose to follow predicted trends and obey fashion’s general procedures, however with time, Sarah acknowledged that her designs including silhouettes, texture cuts and color preferences must ultimately echo the narrative she aimed to illustrate and furthermore, they need to meet her client, the Maison d'Afie woman's expectations.
“Ngondo” is the brand’s latest collection, translating as a festive period located in Douala where full maxi yoke dresses are largely identified and are on display throughout Sarah’s offering. “The Kabas truly reflect who I am and my journey and experiences so far, whilst the mid-century green dresses are gracefully engineered in simple cuts that will flatter any woman's figure. Each piece in this collection was thoroughly thought out and carefully constructed.” Cultural interpretation with accents of bold colors, statuesque silhouettes and tribal-themed embroidery, Maison D’Afie’s designs are truly unique and one of a kind.