Monday, June 28, 2010

Paved the way

Katoucha Niane was One of Africa’s pioneering fashion models, Katoucha led a life marked by equal bouts of tragedy and success, punctuated by her untimely death earlier this year

Dubbed the ‘Ebony Princess’, Katoucha Niane was the first African model to be courted by the Parisian fashion elite. She paved the way for black models, such as Naomi Campbell, to be accepted by Europe’s previously mono-ethnic casting and worked with the top design houses for an impressive 16 years. She retired from full-time modeling in 1994 to launch anti-female genital mutilation organisation KPLCE (Katoucha Pour La Lutte Contre L’Excision) – a cause that was to become the raison d’etre of her later life. Rather than an empty altruistic showpiece, the organisation achieved notable success bringing the controversial custom into the public domain in Guinea and Senegal.

Born in 1960 in Conakry, Western Guinea, the daughter of successful historian Djibril Tamsir 
Niane, Katoucha had a comfortable and happy childhood. But this was turned on its head when, aged nine, her mother told her she was going to the 
cinema but instead took Katoucha to undergo female genital mutilation. The experience marked the start of a turbulent period of her life. The next year her father was threatened by post-colonial dictator Ahmed Sékou Touré, so Katoucha was dispatched to Mali for her safety. Yet this sanctuary turned into nightmare when she was sexually abused by the family charged with her protection.

Four years later she was reunited with her parents but soon after, aged 17, she fell pregnant and out of social obligation married the father – a union that lasted less than two years. In 1980, ignoring warnings from her parents that she’d end up destitute, she fled to Paris and within four months made remarkable inroads into the fashion elite. She was first hired as a fitting model for Lanvin and soon after Thierry Mugler promoted her to the catwalk.

Work for Christian Lacroix, Paco Rabanne and Christian Dior followed but it was Algerian 
designer Yves Saint Laurent who catapulted 
Katoucha to fame. He made her his long time muse and described her physique as ‘made for couture’. Despite officially retiring in 1994 she remained a prolific figure. In 1995 she launched her own eponymous fashion line and in 2002, aged 47, she was the star attraction at Laurent’s farewell show.

Her success in fashion was always tempered by her early experiences. In her 2007 autobiography Dans Ma Chair (In My Flesh) she confessed to adopting a self-destructive lifestyle governed by drink and drugs – a reaction to the experiences of her traumatic childhood – that she struggled with for the rest of her life.

At the start of February 2008 Katoucha was reported missing when she failed to return to her houseboat after a night out. Her body was found in the Seine on February 29. She leaves behind three children and a lasting legacy.

I got all this information from arise magazine :)

I have never heard of her until today! I was just browsing online I love this magazine I will buy an issue soon too! I suggest that you do to. Its amazing I love learining new things in fashion. This was ver inspirational to me. She paved the way for a lot of models tooday! If this isn't enough info on her google her ! :) Enjoy these lovely photos of her. :)


  1. Fantastic pictures, great post.:)sarahD

  2. Oh wow I'd never heard of her until reading your post, but what an inspirational person! Great post, and thanks for the heads up on arise magazine :)


  3. She has a great line of clothes!
    Great post hun and thanks again for the help!

  4. wow, what the girl above me said is what i was going to,
    i love the pictures in this post :)

  5. I really liked her story and she is incredibly gorgeous.

  6. what wonderful photos. great blog.


  7. She is beautiful!
    Thanks for sharing!


  8. She is beautiful!


  9. Love this.
    Thank you so much for your comment, you're lovely.
    Keep following
    Love, johanna

  10. She's gorgeous. Great post!


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