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  • Balenciaga Poster Boy

    The name Amadou Wane may not ring any bells; nevertheless, I’m pretty sure his face looks familiar to true fashion heads worldwide—especially Balenciaga lovers. 

    The 26-year-old burgeoning model made his debut strut down the catwalk in grandiose manner as he closed the Demna Gvasalia-helmed brand’s Autumn/winter 2017 menswear show, sporting an oversized scarf inspired by Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign logo.  Since then, Amadou has furthered his working relationship with the #1 ranked luxury line by appearing in various campaigns, and even graced the runway once more for its Spring/summer 2018 men’s collection.

    Recently, my dear friend Elisabeth Hadida tagged the Senegalese model under one of my Instagram posts.  Since Elisabeth knew Amadou personally—after all, she is Balenciaga’s Europe senior buying manager—I decided to connect with him as well. I appreciated Wane’s levelheaded demeanor despite his speedy success in the modeling world so I decided to extend our dialogue on my #FrendyOriginals platform. This way, we’ll all be able to gain more insight into the life of the Balenciaga poster boy.

    Check out our conversation below:

    FRENDY: What’s going on Amadou? I appreciate you for taking the time to speak with me.  Is this your very first interview?

    AMADOU: Thank you for the opportunity! Yes, this is my very first interview and I’m extremely grateful for it—I hope it will not be my last * Laughs *.

    FRENDY: I’m sure it’s not going to be your last * Laughs *. How do you feel knowing that the luxury brand you’ve been consistently working with is #1 in the world?

    AMADOU: It’s an honor to work with the cream of the crop in the fashion world.  At first, I did not realize how big the brand was. It’s crazy to see the mass hysteria that Balenciaga has caused.

    FRENDY: Well, now you know! Were you always interested in modeling since your days back home in Dakar?

    AMADOU: Honestly, I was a fashion addict, and knew all about the latest trends.  But I never thought of working in the business as a model.  Much love to my fellow model friend Lucas, Eva Goedel (the founder of my modeling agency Tomorrow Is Another Day), and everyone else on the team who propelled my modeling career.

    FRENDY: At what age did you move from your home country to France? And Why?

    AMADOU:   I left Senegal for France at the age of 22 to continue my studies. I spent two years in Metz before moving to Paris.

    FRENDY: How was life growing up in Senegal?

    AMADOU: Life over there is totally different from France * Laughs *. You know, Senegal is known as “The Land of Teranga,” meaning it is the country of hospitality, filled with a real sense of human connection.  But beyond the social aspect, the weather in Senegal is amazing!

    FRENDY:  You left Senegal in order to continue your studies.  Which school did you attend there? What exactly were you studying?

    AMADOU:  After receiving my Bachelors, I attended the Polytechnic School of Dakar, where I obtained a degree in Telecommunications.  Then, I got a degree in Telecommunications at The University of Lorraine. I now have a Masters in Engineering in System and Network Engineering from Institut-F2I in Paris.

    FRENDY: Wow, that’s spectacular. You must have been hitting the books hard! What set of events occurred that led you to become a model?

    AMADOU: I was scouted on the streets of Paris! Lucas, who is a model and scout from TIAD (Tomorrow Is Another Day) modeling agency, spotted me while I was shopping.  He informed me about the agency and at first I was not attentive. Not too long after our first encounter, he convinced me to do it.

    FRENDY: Everything happens for a reason. How did Lucas convince you to finally join TIAD?  What did he tell you?

    AMADOU: He explained to me the role of the agency and the big names that they’ve worked with.  Plus, he told me about the amount of money I would be earning * Laughs *.

    FRENDY: * Laughs * I don’t blame you at all for rolling with them. It’s pretty incredible that your very first modeling gig was to close Balenciaga’s A/W 2017 runway show. Were you nervous?

    AMADOU: To be honest, no—It’s not in my nature to be nervous. I was just extremely hot because I had a huge coat and the Bernie Sanders’ scarf on. The security guards had to open up a backdoor so I could breath before walking on the runway * Laughs *.

    FRENDY: * Laughs *Yeah your outfit was pretty fire (pun intended). How did you prepare for your first walk?

    AMADOU: The agency trained me to walk properly. Thank God for them! But also every model has a unique way of walking and that’s what makes the difference.  It’s the stylist choice to change the model’s walk or not depending on the mood.

    FRENDY: I saw that you also walked for Vetements’ A/W 2017 fashion show.  Have you met Demna?

    AMADOU: Yes, of course. It is Demna who validates our looks before walking.  The craziest thing about it all is that he is the nicest guy!   He takes the time to joke around and connect with us.

    FRENDY: Elisabeth told me great things about him as well.  What other brands have you modeled for?

    AMADOU: Elisabeth! I love her * Laughs *.  I also had the pleasure to work with Abasi Rosborough for LVMH prize, and I recently walked for Vivienne Westwood.

    FRENDY:  You've already worked with some of the best luxury brands in your short modeling career.  Are you interested in doing anything else in the fashion field?

    AMADOU: Compared to other models I have not done anything yet * Laughs *.   But I’m very thankful for the opportunities thus far.  In relation to the question, I would like to organize a high-level fashion week in Dakar. I’m doing my best to make this happen. There are tons of Senegalese models out there, so we might as well band together to do something amazing for our beloved country.

    FRENDY: Is it safe to say that your dreams of becoming an engineer are out the window?

    AMADOU: Nope.  My number one priority is my education, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop modeling. I’m doing my best to do both. I won’t be able to model all of my life so it’s good to be skillful at other things.

  • Balenciaga: The Master

    In fashion, there have only ever been a handful of greats. Countless labels have come and gone from the fashion week calendar, but there are some names with an undying influence that continues to ripple through the industry. Cristóbal Balenciaga was most definitely one of them, and this May the storied Victoria & Albert Museum in London will open a blockbuster exhibit entitled Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, that examines his work and legacy.

    If French fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet was about revealing the body in its truest form, Balenciaga was focused on honoring its foundations while reshaping it in his own vision. He was a true architect of the body who developed fabrics, like the silk gazar created for him by the illustrious Swiss textile firm Abraham, that could complement the volumes and sculptural shapes he desired while celebrating the woman beneath.

    Cristóbal's drive was legendary with no detail too small to escape his eagle-eyed attention. For just one example, he spent the better part of his life trying to make the perfect sleeve, developing countless iterations to achieve his desired effect. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Balenciaga was a true craftsman who could make every garment from the ground up himself, going so far as to make one sublime black dress entirely on his own for every show--without ever divulging which one it was.

    Phenomenal technical feats never ceased coming out of his atelier (coats with only one seam made from one piece of cloth, gravity-defying infanta gowns inspired by his Spanish heritage) and were, astonishingly, the norm. In 1968 when Balenciaga felt he no longer connected with the people of the day, he quietly shuttered his house at the age of 74 and died only a few years later.

    The house of Balenciaga, once considered the greatest in Paris, languished for years with a headquarters that fell into such disrepair; a flooded basement ruined dozens of priceless couture pieces. It was eventually revived to great enthusiasm, but Cristóbal’s singular mystique never diminished and even after numerous entities designing under his name have moved on, his religious devotion to excellence remains a true, unblemished beacon in fashion.

    Written by: Martin Lerma

  • Balenciaga's First Menswear Show

    In the midst of my "Balenciaga Mama " article release, it has just been revealed that the French Fashion house will put on it's first ever menswear show in nearly 100 years.  Talk about perfect timing right?

    The historic brand currently produces a menswear line but thanks to the vision of it's Artistic Director Demna Gvasalia, on June 22nd a runway show will be made presenting the collection to an international stage for the very first time.

    Looking forward to it!

  • Elisabeth Hadida

    The Internet has a wonderful way of connecting souls beyond the physical plane. I personally became E-Friends with a slew of people that I’m patiently waiting to encounter in real life. One of those distant yet remarkable individuals is the glamorous Elisabeth Hadida.

    The Parisian Fashionista was introduced to me through Instagram.  At the time, my photographer Erick Hercules and I initially embarked on our levitation spree, and she just so happened to catch a glimpse of the ethereal shots. Fascinated by them, Elisabeth followed me on the app.  I abruptly returned the favor after viewing her lavish feed, filled with amazing landscapes of Paris and exclusive fashion content.  More than just obtaining a keen vision, I later discovered how much of a great person Elisabeth actually was after our conversations.  We connected so well she bought my FRNDY LMRN™ Logo Tee without me having to persuade her one bit!

    Having such an amazing personality and even richer spirit, Elisabeth left me no choice but to share her story with you all.  Allow me to introduce, the original "Balenciaga Mama."

    FRENDY: You have an interesting last name. What exactly is your background?

    ELISABETH: My family is from North Africa.  My parents migrated to France with absolutely nothing.  They met each other thanks to a mutual friend and have been together ever since! It was the best image of love I could witness as a child.  Since both of them built their careers from scratch in Paris, they taught me the value of hard work, tolerance and sharing.  I will always be thankful for that.

    FRENDY: What was it like to grow up in the city of love?

    ELISABETH: I feel blessed to be born in Paris! It’s truly a magical city, steeped in history. I grew up with an array of people from various countries and origins.  As a child, I was lucky to know different cultures without the need to leave my country. I think it's a gift that every new generation born in France should acknowledge everyday!

    FRENDY: Your positive energy is always bursting through my phone screen whenever we converse.  What values were instilled in you as a young girl that allowed such magnificent aura?

    ELISABETH: Well, Thank You *Blushes*. It was friendship-at-first-sight with you!  To be honest, it’s really difficult to talk about myself in such a way without being seen as pretentious.  I rather learn about others than rambling about myself, but thank you for the kind words Frendy!

    FRENDY: Your love of fashion runs deep. When did it begin?

    ELISABETH: I was seven years old when my dad began bringing me to his men’s clothing store. The shop was absolutely incredible to me!  I spent my time playing dress up with the numerous amounts of threads and accessories available. I loved to wear men’s pieces even when I was young, which now explains my obsession with androgynous looks rather than feminine ones.

    My father taught me everything about fashion.  I learned how to trade and even recognize a man’s size as soon as a client entered the door (it was very helpful).  My father was and still is the Master of Fashion in my eyes *laughs*.

    FRENDY: Who are your style inspirations?

    ELISABETH: I really like to mix different kinds of brands -- from luxury to mass market, and from women’s dress code to men’s style.  I do not have any specific inspirations; my main goal is to wear something that makes me feel comfortable, but always different from an actual fashion trend.

    My weakness is vintage clothes. They are very dangerous for my bank account!  When pieces have a past, the attraction is stronger for me.

    FRENDY: It would be a dream come true for most people I know to work for Balenciaga.  How is it like working in the headquarters of the luxury fashion house?

    ELISABETH: Yes indeed! I know how blessed I am to wake up every day and go to work for this brand.  The best quote that can sum up the way I see my work life is, “choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Balenciaga was the brand I chose amongst all the others because of its history and uniqueness.  The product, either RTW or accessories, stands out for it's avant-garde qualities and beauty.

    The fashion house is like a little family.  You learn to grow, sometimes fall but will always have someone or something to help innovate and find a solution.  That's why I've remained there for seven years now!

    FRENDY: When did you start working there?

    ELISABETH: Well, I started in 2010. My bosses granted me a great opportunity to make such a huge step in my career. I will always be thankful because they gave me a shot as I was coming from a mass-market industry. It was a daring bet *Laughs*. I have the chance to grow up by their side and they teach me alot everyday.

    FRENDY: What is your role in the company?

    ELISABETH: I am the Europe Senior Buying Manager.  I select all the products that will be offered in stores in each country (France, UK, Italy, Spain and Germany) for men, women, accessories and RTW. 

    It’s also a great opportunity to work in retail because it allows me to be connected with many departments, such as the press office, studio, merchandising and production. Basically we never get bored!

    FRENDY: Would you ever branch out and create your own line?

    ELISABETH: In fact, when I was pregnant I found it very difficult to wear something cool and I thought, “wow! I can really create a line of stylish maternity clothes”. There is so much to do in this industry, but I know my limits and unfortunately I do not have an entrepreneurial spirit.  I don’t have the shoulders to start from scratch, especially in this new competitive fashion world.

    FRENDY: Apart from the world of Fashion, you are happily married and have a wonderful bundle of joy.  Is it difficult to be a family woman while working at such a fast-paced industry?

    ELISABETH: Well…yeah! Nobody knows how hard it is to have a baby until they actually have one of their own * laughs *. I really think it’s an everyday struggle for businesswomen.  However, my mum was the best example of having an impressive career with two children.  She is the one who taught me the most about finding a balance between family and the professional life.  She was always there as a mother but also as a working girl!

    FRENDY: I see that you love traveling whenever you have a break from work.  What’s the best place you’ve visited around the world?

    ELISABETH: I am very lucky to have married a globetrotter!  The best place I’ve visited is Japan.  We did a big trip around many cities for our honeymoon--from Tokyo to Okinawa, through Kyoto, Hiroshima…

    It was so amazing to learn about the Japanese culture.  They are so respectful and kind.  I was impressed by their landscapes and way of life.  I’ll definitely go back.

    FRENDY: What advice would you give those who are interested in entering the fashion business?

    ELISABETH: The fashion business has changed a lot since I entered it 10 years ago.  I chose to go to business school and obtain an English Business diploma in order to build a strong profile.  I really think it’s important to have this kind of basis to understand the complexity of the fashion industry.

    But above all, passion is truly the key to success.

    FRENDY: Thank you so much for your time Elisabeth. I hope my readers caught a glimpse of your wonderfulness. Any last words?

    ELISABETH: Yes, thank YOU Frendy for giving me the opportunity to talk about my experience and I hope to have lived up to the expectations of your many readers.

    I prefer to let “Frendy Speak ” now * laughs *.

     Written by: Frendy Lemorin

    Photos by: Jonathan Hadida & Nicolas Chauveau

  • Elisabeth's View

    I know the Kanye West performance at Fondation Louis Vuitton was during Paris Fashion Week but I'm sure most of you will appreciate to see what actually went down that epic night.  

    Mentioned afore, my very good friend Elisabeth Bensoussan was in VIP amongst Ye's "broad that's way thicker" and other high profilers so I'm providing y'all the opportunity to view what they experienced (I mean it's a simple youtube click away but I rather give y'all the footage on my platform, ha!).

    Indulge below:

     

  • Kanye LV

    It seems that my blog is becoming a shrine for all things G.O.O.D Music but damn I can't help it!  Mr. West is reigning everything like the true God he proclaimed to be.  As Paris Fashion Week Festivites are thriving, Yeezus is conducting a private concert series at the Fondation Louis Vuitton.  

    Luckily, my very good friend and original Balenciaga Mama Elisabeth Bensoussan had the chance to attend the first very first day of the exclusive show VIP'd up!  Elisabeth is an immense supporter of mines so you already know she showed the kid love by rocking the FRNDY LMRN logo T- Shirt to the event!  

    Check out the enticing flicks from Ye's showing below: