Wazal is the epitome of talent that joins ambition and youth to create. In 2005, the barely 20 years old, Joseph Marie Nga Ayissi, French of Cameroonian origin established his label, and the rest is history. His Collections have been appreciated by connoisseurs of haute couture and its creations worn by stars of the global jet set, such as French crooner Singuila or the American supermodel Wayne Beckford. Beyond high fashion, Wazal is producing a comic book that tells the epics of his life. In an open interview Wazal talks about his projects and his art. Hello, Wazal, it’s been more than 12 years that you are in the world of haute couture in Paris so if one has to know why you chose this path what will you say?
Hello and thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself on your platform. I am honored. The fashion business, I integrate it young, through my late father Ayissi Nga Pierre Celestin, who was tailor in the 90s in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroun, he has distinguished himself in the creation of men's clothing. That's where my desire to make fashion comes from. Besides I'm someone who loves challenges, runs the extra mile… I had to show it on my very latest collection called Ova Tété, a collection that has given me a nomination at the BEFFTA Awards 2016 as best fashion designer. (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts)
Learning the craft, what was the biggest difficulty you encountered, and how did you face the challenge of this very elitist milieu?
By cons I was lucky to have the support of my family through finances and advice, I take the opportunity to thank them. Other than that, I have a team and partners who collaborate with me, namely Mr. Dave, who is of precious help in the ready-to-wear side, and VANESSA RUIZ in the haute couture.
You perfected your art at Vanessa Ruiz in Paris, when you already had a certain background in fashion. What does this fashion school brought you in addition?
I am an autodidact, who since his childhood draws from different horizons to create. However, I wanted to follow a fashion training at the school VANESSA RUIZ in Paris. A training that allowed me to acquire knowledge about model making, molding and the perfection of my methods and techniques of work. Thanks to this training, I could improve my creations and better define my universe.
You seem to be more specialized in men's clothing, why? We have the impression that African designers are more dedicated to women? Was it a way to fill a void?
Basically, when you come out of a fashion school you are taught to make custom made garments, for men and women, as the training evolves, logically you feel what are your best skills. You will then know that you are more comfortable crafting men's or women's clothing, and logically that influences your career. On the other hand, I chose to make men's clothes because there is demand, men today take care of themselves and for me it's a good thing.
Your style has a strong sporting tendency.
Why does sport seem to have a major influence on your art?
I'm inspired by hip hop, traditional dances, street dancing, to dance you need to have a lot of energy, for me a dancer or singer when on stage wants to have a look, a unique style, he wants to feel king in what he undertakes.
Who is the target audience for Wazal creations? and since you are active in the market what kind of customers do you have mostly?
I dress men and women indifferently; each person has its morphology and I adapt to the customer. I make custom made for men and women, and I also make ready to wear to satisfy everyone.
In October 2017 you presented in Paris your collection Ova Tété what inspired you this collection?
The Wazal collection, called ova Tété, was inspired by Ghanaian and Nigeran dress codes. In Cameroon slang, Ova means greater, a noble personage, and Tété means bourgeois plush. The materials used, wax, Bazin, and lambskin.
Very recently you are working in the release of a cartoon the Legend of Wazal. What is the story behind this cartoon? Why did you think you had to use the image support to tell this story?
It's a story about my brand, what it conveys, its pictorial inclination, its origins. That's why I made the decision to launch a comic book "The Legend of Wazal". It tells the story of a king, who must preserve his people. Wazal Reflects a stylist's life, because our passion always comes from somewhere or something, and once you've got that passion, you must work on it, get better, listen to the advice of others, even if we do not always put them into practice to the letter. That is how we grow up and gain wisdom.This is also how we fine tune the image, and the message, that We want to convey. So, the fact of transposing a literary work in the fashion, allows to improve the project because, in my opinion, we discover the history of the brand playfully, so we offer a moment of relaxation to the reader at the same time.
What public this comic is targeting? and what is its objective which message it carries?
The legend of Wazal is a comic strip in preparation, I send extracts in platforms to make it known, and that allows me to judge the reactions of the public, and the readers contribute, by giving their opinions, without forgetting the team that surrounds me. I am the author and I collaborate with Mrs. MELONIO public writer of the Sarcelles town hall for rewriting, I work with a poet, to bring some poetry to my storytelling, I take the opportunity to thank them.
Fashion shows are mainly showcases to publicize your art. Meanwhile, it’s important to live from your craft how do you supply your products to the public?
In addition to custom orders, I also do private sales, and online sales on my website www.wazalshop.com It is true that from my side I noticed that those who organize fashion shows often tend to take advantage of designers, that's why I chose to organize my own fashion shows.
The black diaspora is sometimes accused of not supporting the Afro creators enough. However, in the social networks and the racist bias that make the headlines, it seems that there is a real wind of awareness in the black community. In concrete terms, is this awareness of the diaspora has brought consequent influx from the black diaspora in your clientele?
I am a lot on social networks. Internet is a powerful tool that of course, can influence mentalities and behavior. For me it remains primarily a working tool that allows the evolution of entrepreneurship in the diaspora, helping collaboration, and the creation of openings for the fashion market.
At the end of this interview, do you have a special word to the audience what is your agenda for the coming year?
My program for the year 2018 is to finish writing my comic, the legend of Wazal, I work at the same time on my next collection Wazal, called Ova Ova which means grandeur of grandeur. I always dare. And, since Wazal has not finished the building of his empire he will not stop creating.
Wazal, Flashmag and his readership thank you for this interview.
Interview by Hubert Marlin Journalist