Queen of Cowries: Lafalaise Dion Stuns at AFU Fundraising Fashion Show

Queen of Cowries: Lafalaise Dion Stuns at AFU Fundraising Fashion Show

Ranji Mangcu

Ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Final, which was won by the host country, Côte d’Ivoire, Africa Fashion International (AFI) held the Africa Fashion Unites (AFU) Fundraising Fashion Show in Abidjan.

Hosted by AFI in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Francophonie, it was a celebration of African fashion. 28 designer brands showcased at the AFU Fundraising Fashion Show, representing the 24 countries that participated in the 2023 AFCON.   

The AFU Fundraising Fashion Show was held in support of the Centre Artisanal ABE APO Élisabeth, which is based in Montézo, in the Alépé Region of Cote D’Ivoire.

The Centre Artisanal ABE APO Élisabeth serves its community and economy by turning the age-old traditional practice of weaving into a skills-exchange, promoting autonomy and practical skills-development.  


With Côte d’Ivoire being the host, AFI had to pay special attention to the country’s vibrant fashion industry. Boasting some of the most exciting fashion designers in the continent, Côte d’Ivoire’s fashion industry has played a pivotal role in solidifying the nation’s position as an emerging force in global fashion.  

Amidst the star-studded list of African designers who showcased at the fundraiser, are a handful of Ivorian designers who are leading the charge on their home turf. 


With each on a mission to represent the beauty and riches of their culture, their presentations were a reminder of just why they are leaders in Africa’s fashion industry. 

Lafalaise Dion   

The “Queen of Cowries”, Dion Dewand Marcia Lafalaise, has a distinctive aesthetic that is uniquely hers.  

The designer, artist and performer’s eponymous label, Lafalaise Dion, is known for producing powerful wearable art.  


At the centre of this, is the brand’s use of the cowrie shell as a motif, paying tribute to its deep cultural and spiritual significance in West African cultures, particularly the Dan culture of Cote d’Ivoire.   

With a goal of zero negative environmental impact, Lafalaise Dion is built on Lafalaise’s storytelling, and her own curiosities around spirituality and ancestral inheritances.    

Lafalaise Dion's latest collection showcased at the AFU Fundraising Fashion Show in Abidjan, was a captivating testament to the brand's signature motif: the cowrie shell.

From the raw beauty of traditional costumes crafted entirely from these shells to the contemporary elegance of a printed suit, Dion masterfully wove a narrative that transcended mere fashion. 

Two stunning gowns further solidified this theme: one, meticulously knitted in the shape of shells, embodied meticulous craftsmanship, while the other, a sheer masterpiece festooned with shells, exuded ethereal grace.

This collection wasn't just a showcase of talent; it was a celebration of the cowrie shell's enduring allure and a powerful ode to Lafalaise Dion's visionary design aesthetic. 

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