Maison Yhebe creates practical clothing for working women. “My creations are inspired by the women of my land, the women of Gouro ( Ivory Coast),” explains Rebecca Zoro, a 35-year-old Ivorian fashion designer. And he explains: “They are strong, charismatic and enterprising women. My creations are created from the situations they live in everyday. My clothes seek to highlight the beauty of their faces, to help them feel more comfortable and confident. It is a practical garment for working women. This is the concept of her brand, which was born in early 2016 under the name Yhebe Design, and is now called La Maison Yhebe: to recover Ivorian traditions to dress women of today. It’s a “past-future” brand, says Zoro. Her clothes reflect her origins: “I am very inspired by my childhood memories, the way my mother and grandmother dressed, and the materials we saw since we were little. I’m looking to carry on this traditional art of dressing, adapting it and creating updated versions for young women.”
I’m looking to carry on this traditional art of dressing, adapting it and creating updated versions for young women.
The dialogue with his cultural heritage also appears in his limited edition AWA by Magnum capsule collection, with proceeds from online sales going to Magnum’s impact programs targeting women farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire. “For me, it was very important to use materials of great importance in this collection, like the sarong created with Kamandje fabric, which is only used on special occasions,” he says.
“AWA by Magnum means a lot to me because it was the first time I had the opportunity to design a collection that benefits women. I was able to interact and listen carefully. All the pieces represent a part of themselves, at work, at home, even in the way they dress,” says Zoro.
Designing from and for the Ivory Coast has been a constant for her. Behind their clothes is handcrafted, handmade work made from sustainable materials and in collaboration with a local team of designers, artists and artisans. This attachment to her land has not stopped her designs from gaining attention in other parts of the world and they were even modeled by Beyoncé just two years after her brand was founded.
Behind their clothes is a handcrafted and manual work made from sustainable materials
Rebecca Zoro knew she wanted to pursue fashion in her 20s. However, that passion existed even before then. “As a child, I loved creating my own dolls out of paper or banana stems and dressing them up,” she recalls.
When asked if she considers herself a role model for other African women in the fashion industry, she can’t contain a shy laugh. “No lo sé, pero si fuera una inspiración para otras me sentiría orgullosa y agradecida”, dice la diseñadora y añade: “Si tuviera que darle un consejo a una mujer que quiere comenzar su propio negocio de moda, simplemente le diría que se ponga en cours. If you think you have a way of doing things, a vision or something to express, you must start now. It’s never easy but you have to go for it.
By lavanguardia magazine