Madame Noire caught up with London-based Tsemaye Binitie as his new fashion line takes off. Just how did the brother go from working for Stella McCartney to launching his own line? Here’s what we found out:
Madame Noire: Who is Tsemaye (pronounced shay-mah-yay)?
Tsemaye Binitie: I’m a designer with past experience working with Stella McCartney, John Richmond and Burberry. I started my own label in 2009.
MN: Why on your own? No fears?
TB: The dream was to have my own voice in fashion. There were a lot of fears, yes, but the drive to have my own voice was bigger than my fears. Ever since age three, I’ve wanted to be a designer, so anything I did was always gonna be temporary: I did what I did to train and learn.
MN: What are the worst fashion mistakes you see people making? How would you correct them?
TB: The biggest thing for me is fitting your body. You can’t just see a trend and hop on it. If you know leggings don’t suit your body type, then try trouser-leggings (treggings); they’re tight like leggings but they’re actually pants.
MN: What looks do you have coming out for Fall 2010?
TB: We have a 20-look collection. Our dresses will be short and body conscious, trousers will be tight and jackets, cropped. The collection is called “Misty Black” and was inspired by jellyfish. I came across the work of Coe & Waito, through their blog and this was the starting point for the collection. I liked their porcelain jellyfish installation and it formed the basis of my research [for my clothes].
Every detail about each piece relates back to jellyfish from the pleated frills which were sourced from Japan to the fabrics, prints and silhouette.
MN: Who is your muse?
TB: A modern icon of strength, beauty & glamour…from Michelle Obama to Naomi Campbell to Sheryl Crow, Victoria Beckham…people that can carry it off; fashion should always highlight a person’s personality. Like, Chanel Iman, I adore her. She’s a new kind of model…very young [types who] love what they do, and super-professional. She lives it breathes it, embodies something positive about modeling: has a life outside of modeling, and can talk about an appreciation for the garment that she’s wearing.
MN: What is your perspective on urban fashion?
TB: It’s grown so much: Kanye West, even Jay-Z…Keri Hilson, Ciara’s kind of cool, with a banging body…they’ve upped the ante. Even Amber Rose, that girl is rocking man. There a lot of labels doing great things. It’d be great for us to have a voice in urban fashion. [I’m] doing high fashion, and Ciara would be an amazing person to dress. Lady Gaga would be bloody fantastic.
MN: What would be your financial tips for someone starting in fashion?
FB: You really have to understand the market first. Having a really good design job. Start with a small company. When I joined Stella [McCartney], it was a big brand, but it was intimate. I was the only guy there at the time. I saw how my actions affected others–I help in the archives; assisted in press. There’s a lot of self-teaching; you have to know what’s out there too.
MN: What would be your parting fashion advice for all the fabulous madames of Madame Noire?
TB: Get into the joy of dressing up. Wearing clothes should be fun. Even if you’re just going to work, get into the whole song and dance of it. Picking something you’re really feeling will project your personality ten times more. Feel it, bring it, work it.