Rather than stage a show, presentation, or protest (as last season), Lamine Badian Kouyaté and his business partner Rodrigo Martinez invited everyone to their new atelier to prend une verre while looking at the new collection on racks. Xuly.Bët’s new home is in the 2nd arrondissement on a walking street peppered with restaurants, peep shows, and mom-and pop shops. Historically, noted Kouyaté, it’s where mass-produced clothing was made. The designer and his team now produce the brand’s unique, “funkin’ fashions” here.
Many of the pieces in this offering will be familiar to those who follow the brand; forward movement was created through a collaboration with the Japanese gallery Keshiki, which resulted in bombers and coats made using existing kimono materials and featuring the Xuly.Bët brand logo on the back. This was a nice compliment to Kouyaté’s frequent use of African wax prints and tied in with his commitment to sustainability.
With the exception of a sparkled fleece fabric, all the materials used in the fall collection were pulled from what was already on hand in the studio or were second-hand. The famous football jerseys were back and especially stunning in a mashup of maxi length, as were faux furs and, of course, the signature red-stitch stretch pieces that are always part of the collection. The magic is in the mix chez Xuly.Bët, which is better expressed in a campaign the brand did with model Marpessa Hennink than in the lookbook photos, which capture members of Kouyaté’s extended family of models and muses with cameos from the designer and Martinez and Assa Traoré. Named a Guardian of the Year by Time in 2020, Traoré leads the Truth and Justice for Adama Committee, which she formed after her younger brother, Adama Traoré, who died while in police custody. A dress in the collection was printed with slogans on behalf of justice in that case.
When asked what he wanted to express this season, Kouyaté replied, “Brotherhood.” “I’m trying to give another face of fashion… I’m trying to give something real,” he continued. “Most of the time people are focusing on their own face. I think we should maybe take a little step back and the street is the space that we can all share.”