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In the fashion fraternity, Taibo Bacar’s name is synonymous with eclectic, elegant women’s wear for all occasions. Showing at this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa (MBFWAfrica) in Johannesburg, South Africa, Bacar closed the annual event’s opening night in October with a standing ovation.

Titled A Luta Continua – The Struggle Continues, and to the enchanting vocals of Miriam Makeba singing A Luta Continua, 50 models showcased a collection that was a mixture of textures and fabrics including the Mozambican ‘capulana’ (sarong), fake fur, organza, mesh, brocades and georgette.

He merged haute couture and ready-to-wear incorporating designs and patterns from his first collection displayed at the fashion week in 2012. Bacar says his inspiration is the feminine woman who wants to look unique in timeless garments.

“When I started, I was thinking about the things that make me happy or things I trust in. But now before I create, I first think about business. I think about commercial things – who is going to buy this product, I’m thinking about the clients, I’m thinking about the customers,” he says.

Bacar says his brand is for women in business; he is merely trying to make life easier for them.

“I know it’s not easy to wake up with the kids for example and the husband, and you still have to take care of the home and also think about what you are going to wear. I try to make something that when a woman wears it, she will be sure to look impeccable all the time,” he says.

The collection’s title was inspired by the current situation in Mozambique and represents continuity, evolution, development and the future. The models donned Bacar’s frocks in gold, liquid black, red velvet and in cuts that speak to the affluent woman, exuding opulence.

“We try to play with our African identity. It’s to keep the feminine silhouette, we are trying to make the woman more confident and more beautiful,” he says.

His couture line is handmade; some of the pieces take about two months to complete, with two people working on them at the same time. These are the more expensive gowns priced at about $5,000.

Retailing in Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, Paris, Portugal, and soon in Russia, Brazil and New York, the brand is gaining popularity, but remains faithful to its Mozambican and African roots. An online store is also on the cards.

“I believe a lot in my brand. I don’t think about awards, I don’t think about what I can get from this business. I think about how I can make this business better year after year,” says Bacar.

The son of a seamstress, Bacar continues to value women and the feminine, paying attention to detail with handwork and embroidery that are his stamps of luxury.

His pret-a-couture line received applause as the night’s finale saw all 50 models sit gracefully in three rows on the ramp, and Bacar walked down the runway.

The Mozambican was also the first African designer to show at Milan Fashion Week.

Bacar has a number of international awards under his belt, but says his prize is spotting people wear his clothes, especially on his travels.

“For me, my award, my goal is to walk in the streets when I’m traveling, and to see someone wearing Taibo Bacar; to walk in the street and see some boutique selling Taibo Bacar and to say, yes I’ve been working hard and I’m achieving my goals.”

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