BY Paul Ndiho
Nigerien fashion designer Sidahmed Alphadi Seidnaly, known as the “Alphadi ”is arguably the first African artist to make it onto catwalks in Paris, New York, Milan and beyond (is he or isn’t he?). Now the celebrity designer and UNESCO Artist for Peace is using his label to promote high-end fashion on the continent and peace in the world.
Born in Timbuktu (Mali) in 1957, Alphadi has been described as the “magician of the desert.” He is recognized in the fashion industry as one of the greatest names in fashion on the African continent. His creations combine cutting-edge style and traditional African styles.
My brand is unique because
?I use unique textile. My collection is from all the prominent designers from Europe… I’m a big artist from Africa. Europeans send some people to see my collection sometimes in my country. They copy, at times they do to see what works for them. My work is unique because all the first ladies in Africa wear Alphadi collection. Big ministers in Africa wear Alphadi collection.”
Alphadi started his label in 1984. His first haute couture line was released in 1985 at the Paris International Tourism Tradeshow. Since then, Alphadi has been featured in top fashion magazines as a pioneer designer and entrepreneur on a mission to promote high-end African fashion.
For 35 years, Alphadi brand helps African textile, supports African names and promotes African beauty—that is Alphadi brand. All the pregnant women, Alphadi makes a collection for them. The president, Alphadi makes the collection for them. That is Alphadi brand.”
In 1998, Alphadi launched the first International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) in the Tiguidit desert (Niger) under the auspices of UNESCO. The Festival has since become a place of exchange and dialogue between cultures from all over the world.
Apart from showcasing unique designs, the event also brings together international models to inspire upcoming talent as well train and mentor young models in the region.
“We bring designers from Europe, from Asia, from America, from Africa together to show how African design can get better and better.”
The artist has also created the Alphadi Foundation, which works to improve the lives of women and children in the Sahara and helps build and develop employment in the region.
“We give them the chance to get scholarships if they come study fashion in my industry in Niger, and I’m going to build one of Africa’s big university for fashion. I’m going to do it in Niger; big schools like universities for fashion and arts and that is in Niger. And the young girls we give them a chance to be actual designers. This industry can help out for the development.”
Alphadi has held FIMA shows in various African cities and abroad. Alphadi and his team are currently working on establishing a university to teach fashion designer to address the growing demand for high-end on the continent.
Earlier this year UNESCO designated Alphadi as an Ambassador for Peace for his commitment to culture and development, promotion of tolerance and his dedication to the ideals of the Organization