Article11 Aunni

Iconic artist Grace Jones graced his runway with her powerful presence at the 2009 African Fashion Collective at New York Fashion Week in Bryant Park.

London’s prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum featured him as one of three contemporary fashion designers at the “Fashion in Motion: Africa 2005” catwalk event.

The Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode honored him in 1996 with a fellowship award that enabled him to mass produce one-of-a-kind pieces.

A few years before, Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker captured his image as the character Cy Bianco in Robert Altman’s 1994 film “Prêt-à-Porter.”  Also in 1994, The New York Times named him “Creator of the Year.”

Lamine Badian Kouyaté, fashion design legend of Xuly.Bët Funkin’ Fashion, has parlayed his career into an unforgettable moment-by-moment of unique fashion revealing African sensibility, deconstruction, patchwork and street funk.

Kouyaté is dedicated to the craft of freedom and love through design. When asked who inspired him, Kouyaté said, “Grace Jones and Azzedine Alaïa. Grace Jones rocked it , Alaïa is a major designer that lives in Paris.”

“I love his collection,” said Kenny “KAS” Flanagan, a luxury fashion designer. “It’s funky, chic, sexy and retro.”  

Kouyaté’s retro appeal is marked by his love for funk music; George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic are one of his favorite music groups.

Years ago, Kouyaté, a student at Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Strasbourg, used guerilla-style marketing to present the 1992 Xuly.Bët collection in the rain outside of couture designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s tent.

“Yes, we had to.” Kouyaté confirmed. “They don’t give you any space and so you have to push a little bit to set up your space, it’s hard work.”

Recently, Kouyaté presented the Fall/Winter 2016 Xuly.Bët ready-to-wear collection at New York Fashion Week.  Fifteen Black models strutted the catwalk, sporting oversized hip-hop-styled athletic jackets made of official athletic jerseys, sheer fabric outerwear, faux fur hooded vests, coats, faux fur-lined jackets layered on top of his famous bright patchwork apparel. The models also wore metallic jumpsuits, sequined tops, African prints on athletic-styled dresses with contrasting trim, denim jeans, on top of multiple layers of second skin stretchy tops, leggings and catsuits in shiny colors and prints.

Over the years, Xuly.Bët has been true to its meaning, translated as “keep your eyes open” or “watch out” in Wolof. After Kouyaté’s show, I found myself at home, at peace with his genius.  I embraced Kouyaté’s strong vibe, unearthed by his inter-ethnic Mali heritage, a culturally colorful West African country. One’s eyes are widened by Kouyaté’s fashion fusion. Xuly.Bët Funkin’ Fashion taps an energy and strokes a cord that stays with you on your journey to find your fashion identity.

After 25 years of fashion collections, international fashion shows, design awards, New York and Paris boutiques, Kouyaté wants to break fresh ground in another New York boutique.

“I am looking for backers to help me handle the business,” said Kouyate. “The fashion industry is hard for Black men.”

Kouyaté currently maintains a Funkin’ Fashion studio and factory in Paris where he produces Xuly.Bët apparel and accessories for his Paris boutique and his e-shop,