Today’s post comes from Fatou Jobe, a long-time Gazelle Skirt reader and the woman behind the IMADI brand of baskets, bags and more.
“So what are you wearing for Tabaski?”
If you do not yet know the answer to this question, less than a week before Tabaski, then you may as well give up and stay in your jeans and a T-shirt. Dakar Fashionistas have been planning the perfect outfit for at least two months.
Most tailoring shops closed their order books way back in the beginning of the month. I know this because, on the 3rd September, I started to think about what to wear, when my mum texted to ask what my colours will be this year. I did not have the courage to say; “… umm, colours?” I had not chosen the fabric, colours or even the style of what to make. So I replied bravely that, it would be a surprise!I ventured out to H.L.M. market, that same afternoon, to see what I could find, but only got as far as the entry to the market, before fleeing. The stalls were literally back-to-back, and there was no way in, that is, without being squashed and jostling other people!
Instead, I found a beautiful guipure fabric and cut out lace at a shop near my house in Point E, and took it to my traditional-wear tailors, Mandel Couture at Rue Joseph Gomis in Plateau. At 15,000/m ($30/yard), it is best to hand the fabric to tried and tested scissors!Mandel Couture had, in fact, called me two weeks earlier, to ask if I would be bringing any fabrics in. I just thought that perhaps times were hard and that they did not have enough clients, why else would they be bothering with me. So when I showed up with my fabrics, I was shown the piles and piles of receipt books piling up since June for Tabaski orders! They had indeed closed their order books. “That’s why we called you. We did not want our long-time customers to be disappointed.” Aarggh.
So I went to my second choice tailors, SARA Prestige. They should really have been my first choice, since they are right on trend with the latest ‘boubou’ styles, but I guess loyalty makes me stick with Mandel (The owner’s father, was my grandfather’s tailor). SARA Prestige owned by Dakar’s most discreetly fashionable lady, Mrs. Kebe, is at the top of the traditional-wear league table. With beautifully rich and luxurious damasked cotton fabric (bazin), silk and guipure, they can suggest to you what is on trend and which tailoring cuts are ‘in’. With a ‘Taille-Basse’ starting at 25,000 fcfa ($50), they can offer made-to-order or ready-made styles.
The newest addition to this year’s Tabaski market is Satis’ fashion. They started in business in 2007, and for a long time, they were the go-to-brand for Dakar’s jetsetters. Now with a newly opened shop on Rue A, Point E, next to the Spanish Tapas restaurant (Taberna Espagnola). Traditional wear starts at 65,000 ($130) for the softest cotton ‘Taille-basse’, perfect for hot season to a richly embroidered ‘Kaba’ a long tunic dress, which comes with a skirt and head tie at 200,000 fcfa ($400). Eeek.
At the local markets, H.L.M. and at Sandaga, there are also ready made outfits available starting at just 4,000 fcfa ($8). The fabric might not survive another Tabaski, but if it is just an outfit to wear for a lunch invitation, it may do the trick.
Men take their Tabaski fashion seriously. I once spent an hour, trying to choose the right shade of blue cotton for my brother! A three-piece tunic, like the one below (right), costs 65,000 fcfa ($130) to make and a two-piece tunic (left) at 20,000 fcfa ($40).
A man’s outfit is incomplete without a pair of ‘marrakis’ at just 5,000fcfa ($10)they complete any man’s outfit. Ask for the ones from Ngaye Mekhe, a town near Louga. Children are not forgotten, I was amused and disturbed to find these heels at H.L.M. market last week.
Heels for women from Queen Fadima’s shop (where I bought my guipure) start at 35,000 ($70). I will pass on these and wear sandals instead! Tabaski is already stressful enough, visiting relatives and being judged by your choice of outfit, to add to it, tottering dangerously on tower blocks!
Hairstyle? Wigs and weave-on are the order of the day. If you have no patience to sit at a salon to have your hair braided, you can wear a braided wig or stick on a hat. The brighter, and shinier the hat, the better, I was told by HLM’s Ndey Marie Nying. She told me she’d hardly slept in three weeks in order to be able to supply enough hats. The customer’s choice for this year is a plethora of jewels and colours on the ‘Mussor’ – head tie – worthy of the Arabian nights. Fake eyelashes and nails? Please do not get me started … It would require a whole blog dedicated to just that!
Now there is no excuse not to get in on the bling feast. You have all the good addresses at your fingertips. What will you be wearing? Please send pictures of your beautiful outfits!
If this is your first Tabaski in Senegal, prepare to dazzle and be dazzled!