A love letter to Abidjan, courtesy of Jad Fardon and his new fashion brand Awale


For Jad Fardon’s latest Awale collection, ETE89 (Summer 89 – the year he was born) he takes us back to his Abidjan birthplace. Of Lebanese descent, Fardon spent his formative years in the city, before moving to Beirut, then Dakar and more recently Paris. But his heart still belongs to Côte d'Ivoire, and seeps through this campaign shoot, which conjures up the halcyon days of his youth. “In Abidjan, summer lasts all year long,” he says. “I was raised in the central Le Plateau district that swarms with people 24/7. Men and women rush from one appointment to another, stopping on a corner for a drink, or to hear the latest news on a waiter’s radio.” They do all of this, in this new vision, while wearing his minimalist, comfortable clothes. Clean shirts, sporty shorts, logo vests and A-line skirts are as simply refreshing as a frozen bissap juice.

It was while studying architecture that Fardon succumbed to his natural interest in West African craftsmanship. He spent time with artisans “to understand their traditional know-how, with its codes, tools and techniques,” and first developed a t-shirt line. Following his graduation in 2015, he went back to Abidjan for a year to establish a studio, team and local manufacturing infrastructure. He sources cotton exclusively from Korhogo in the north, which is hand-spun by women, then handwoven by men. For textile dying and metal casting, he works with experts in Grand-Bassam to the south, and silk prints, leatherwork and tailoring are all done back in the capital.

Awale - which means ‘love one another’, or is a popular African board game, depending on whom you ask - launched with the first official collection Blockhaus in early 2017. And now ETE89 further asserts his love affair with his first home. “I can't really explain it, it is a feeling. Abidjan is the place where I observed everything, developed my sense of style and creativity,” he says. “I have the dream that Awale studio will someday become one of the first big made in Africa houses, known and worn worldwide. I am part of a generation that will have a big impact on what African arts and design will be tomorrow… like a wave, a movement.”

“A day in Abidjan should start with a walk around Treichville market looking for fabrics, pieces of art and other little treasures, all the while eating gbofloto, the local sugar donut. Have a lunch of fresh fish at Espace Mima, a maquis (local restaurant) by the laguna. Then visit Fondation Donwahi to discover new artists from Africa. By the end of the day, have an apero at BAO café, and finally go to Kajazoma for one of the best dinners in town in an art gallery setting.”

Words Helen Jennings
Visit Awale

Published on 27/06/2017