How cultural origins can influence the perception of Fashion
An Interview of New Afro
Mohamed is an Event planer, fashion lover and a tik-tok influencer based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Cheria (New Afro creative director and founder) met him last summer (August 2021) through a common friend, the photographer Oronce Hounkponou.
"Interesting for me was the amount of people Mohamed knows inside the creative and entertainment industry, the time and space he gives to his friends and the love he has for his adoptive country Ivory Coast, for its cultural diversity. Mohamed is a good example of how cultural mixity, or better yet, how interculturality can impact our way of living and being aware of its strength."
The interview was prepared by Alina Guillouët ( New Afro communication and PR manager ) & Cheria Bayer ( Founder & Creative Director )
New Afro: Let's discover together your background. Having grown up in Ivory Coast with parents from Lebanon: What was the impact of Lebanon and this cultural mix in your clothing style?
Mohamed: So, as we all know, Lebanon is considered as the creative nest of the Middle East, where the yarn and the scissors are very well handled. Since I was a kid, I've been following the Lebanese fashion scene and all its world-renowned designers, such as Elie Saab, Zuhair Mourad and many others... I've been inspired by their talents, their creativity. And I've been able to combine my two cultures, Oriental and African, to make my identity. Hence my atypical and unique style.
New Afro: What is the place of fashion in your life?
Mohamed: Fashion means a lot to me, I breathe fashion: it's my oxygen. It is for me a way to break out, to express myself, to state my identity, it is a lifestyle. It is simply art, it is a way for me to pass messages.
New Afro: What was your inspiration for launching your Tik-Tok and Instagram career?
Mohamed: My experience, my double culture, my blended background, my everyday life.
New Afro: What are your plans for the future?
Mohamed: So my plans for the future: I am writing a book that will be released very soon called "Mes vies dans ma vie" (My Lives in My Life). This book will summarize the stages of my life, my metamorphosis, where I started, where I came from, my personality, harassment, miscegenation, my surroundings, facts of life etc. I am also creating a clothing line. This brand will reflect my image, tell my story and my way of seeing things. I can't wait to present it to you.
New Afro: In your video for Brut, we see you "switching" between two languages: metropolitan French, then Nouchi (an Ivorian jargon). We have the impression of seeing two different characters: do you play the role of one of these characters or are they both part of you?
Mohamed: Both personalities are part of me. I have the art of changing my accent from one moment to the next in a second, depending on the context. I have this ability because of the two environments I live in. So I don't play a role, it's more the essence of my personality.
New Afro: What do you like most about Nouchi? What do you like about metropolitan French?
Mohamed: For me Nouchi is a culture, an identity. One recognizes one's fellow human beings through this language. It should also be remembered that the intonations play a big role in Nouchi, that's what fascinates me. It is a Mood. It is art. Concerning the metropolitan French, when it is very well spoken, for me it represents gentleness, poetry and refinement.
New Afro: At home, with your parents: do you talk like with your friends?
Mohamed: At home with the parents, we all speak in French, the Nouchi is only between friends.
New Afro: When did your family come to live in Côte d'Ivoire? In what context did they immigrate?
Mohamed: My great grandparents were part of the first wave of immigration. Being traders, they settled in the Ivory Coast, then they founded a family: hence my mixed race from my Guinean grandfather.
New Afro: Since when are you interested in fashion? Where does this passion come from?
Mohamed: I discovered this passion since my early age. I read a lot about the world of fashion, then to perfect my talent, I entered the school of Fine Arts.
New Afro: You are an event decorator and wedding planner. How important is this job in your life, compared to your career as an influencer?
Mohamed: Yes, I have been an event decorator and wedding planner for six years now. As a decorator and an influencer, I know how to balance the two. Both have an important place in my life. It's wonderful to be close to my subscribers, to give them motivation, to push them to surpass themselves and to fight to reach their goals, but above all to love and accept themselves as they are. Without forgetting that decorating is my core business.
New Afro: What do you like most about what you do?
Mohamed: My job as an influencer allows me to share positivity with my community. Today, I have succeeded in creating a family, with whom I exchange on various subjects, without borders, making fun of the most sensitive and difficult subjects. I want to be for my subscribers a friend, a brother, a confidant who will know how to motivate and encourage them to cross the adversities.
New Afro: Do you still have family in Lebanon, and are you in contact with them?
Mohamed: Yes, indeed I have family in Lebanon, I go there often. It's always a real pleasure to find this other part of me.
New Afro: You carry a kind of hybridity in you: what advantages do you get from it?
Mohamed: This hybridity has allowed me to make wonderful encounters. This asset has allowed me to acquire an open mind, favoring the discovery of new horizons, new cultures. I consider this to be my greatest asset.
New Afro: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Mohamed: In five years, I see myself in good health, still happy, having made the most positive impact on my community. The rest is up to the future. Stay tuned.
Mohamed's social media Pages :
Instagram : @mhd.syg
Tiktok : https://firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Alina Guillouet & Cheria Bayer