Seductive and mystical are two words that immediately come to mind when you see the elaborate jewellery and body adornment pieces by Ivorian artist and designer La Falaise Dion. Based in Abidjan La Falaise Dion uses her work to reconnect with her ancestral power by embracing the cowrie shell which has been used by the Dan people of Western Cote d’Ivoire as a means of communication with the spirit world. In doing so she is challenging the stigmas that surround it. The dramatic appearance of her Lagbaja, headpiece in Beyonce’s Spirit video has taken her brand to new heights, giving her a platform to share her heritage and culture which lies at the heart of her brand. We caught up with the designer to get a bit more insight into her brand and the inspiration behind it.
a55: Please introduce yourself and tell us what led you to start your jewellery brand.
LFD: Hello, my name is Lafalaise Dion, aka the Queen of the Cowries. I was born and raised in Cote d’Ivoire where I currently live. I grew up in a small town called Divo in the south of the Ivory Coast. After my graduation, I came to Abidjan to further my studies. I studied communication for two years and later was expected into Ivory Coast’s most prestigious school of journalism ( STC), where I studied for 3 years.
After completing my degree, I worked as a fashion editorial assistant intern for 2 years. After that, I was appointed, Content Manager at the fashion magazine called Milc. My creativity was sparked thanks to the level of awareness of the fashion industry the Magazine gave me access to.
Today, I successfully run my own brand (business), which has been in existence for a year while working as the Content Manager at ELLE Magazine Côte d’Ivoire. I never had any art training or attended a fashion school, my knowledge comes from observing one of my friends who worked with cowrie shells. Through a lot of self education and observation, I now tell my story through my cowrie shells art.
a55: When did you start creating your jewellery pieces?
LFD: After a trip that changed my life in Accra, Ghana, I experienced a creative awakening. Nothing was the same. That awakening led me to start creating the pieces some time in August 2018.
a55: What is the significance behind your jewellery designs?
LFD: The cowries represent my story, the African story. It is the legacy left by my ancestors. It is the way for me, as a young woman to reconcile myself with the African spirituality, to show the world the richness and uniqueness of my culture. It is also an activist expression, every single one of my creations is a message sent to my people, Africans. I ask my fellow Africans to accept to carry their inheritance, to stop demonising or to be afraid of all of that; that is African ancestral practices and to embrace their story.
a55: One of your pieces, Lagbaja, was worn by Beyonce in her Spirit video, did you know that was going to happen, and how do you feel knowing this?
LFD: So, I was contacted by Peju, one of the stylists who worked on the project. She told me that she wanted several pieces for a Beyoncé’s video, but I didn’t know which one. It was confidential. Like everybody else, when the Spirit music video dropped, I was like, that was for that music video. That was a good surprise, a great one.
It’s a dream come true. I am delighted about it. It showed me that nothing is impossible on this earth of men. At the beginning of the year, I wrote on a paper that Beyoncé was going to wear my creations one day, I entrusted my wish to the universe and the universe answered back. It became true. It is an accomplishment for me, the beginning of a new and great adventure without limits.
As a creative celebrating the spirituality and creative richness of her heritage La Falaise Dion is creating contemporary jewellery that holds deep significance for the wearer.
We thank La Falaise for taking the time to chat with us and to find out more about La Falaise Dion visit: www.lafalaisedion.com
For further information about La Falaise Dion visit: www.lafalaisedion.com/
[Image credits: The images shown belong to La Falaise Dion. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]