Note from BW of Brazil: Over the past several years, a number of black Brazilian women have been bringing their own flair to the fashion game in places like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador, Bahia. Madá Negrif is one of the women who is determined to do her own thing in a fashion world that hasn’t been exactly inviting to black women. Check out her story in the interview below and also some of her designs here and here.
Celebrating her 13 years in the market, Negrif is a brand full of colors and movement, without losing the essence of its African roots. With a special fondness for customers, Negrif offers a Sexta das Pretas (Black’s Friday), to pamper her guests and friends.
Daughter of a seamstress, Madalena Maria Bispo da Silva, also known as Madá, grew up surrounded by pins, thread, needles and fabric on all sides and this encouraged and influenced her to be a fashion designer. The choices that people make every day are the main source of inspiration for the development of the collections, as well as exploring some elements of African culture.
With a degree in fashion with expertise in management and event productions, Madá creates light clothing with personality, which makes women wish to spend the day and night dressed in the brand. Located on Rua Carlos Gomes (street), Edifício Bariloche, between Central das Bolsas (store) and CEAO (Centro de Estudos Afro Orientais) in Salvador, Bahia.
Moda Afro Bahia (MAB): When did you decide to work in fashion?
Madá Negrif (MN): I am the daughter of a seamstress and always liked what my mother would make my clothes, so I’ve already created from an involuntary way and when I started working in the artistic realm (Vila Velha theater) I could see that there was an audience that would embrace my ideas easily and then I started to produce without any academic knowledge but by what I brought as inherent knowledge. So I started just as the reflection of being the daughter of a seamstress…
MAB: How did the idea for your brand come about?
MN: The idea of the brand only emerged after a long path. I started with just a simple name so that the clothing had a tag and which didn’t identify the proposed pieces of clothing that were more affirmative. With more academic maturity I could see new lines of research and construction which turned my clothes into a strong element and it was when coincidentally that an African friend that was hanging out here in Salvador, gave me the name Negrif and the relation that I make is that the same way that the history of my ancestors gave itself from the African continent to here, the name of my brand traveled the same path, from there to here.
MAB: What is your creative process?
MN: I look at the fabric and I think about what I’ll do, and don’t stop and design a collection I only do this when I have some parade in which I need a theme, I need to realize the unity of the pieces, but in my day to day when I have contact with the fabric I already know what I’m going to do.
MAB: What are your main influences?
MN: The day to day and the exact way that people are, they share in my main inspiration, ie, they are free to make their choices and for this, I work with loose clothing and that have a proposed cut and differentiated pattern because I work with clothes for people who go up and down hills, streets and alleys, people who want to leave work to reggae (happy hour), light clothes which bring an implied trace of African culture.
MAB: How did your connection with African culture come about?
MN: I think that when I was born black, with a rich history constructed by my ancestors ready to be explored. I don’t like the ordinary and as the common as already exists in every corner I needed to identify myself with something different and African culture conditioned me in different ways.
MAB: Why does fashion fascinate people?
MN: Fashion not only survives, its great ally is the new, which delights the audience and makes the consumer and each individual have a necessity to show a style, either for personal satisfaction or to be part of the collective.
MAB: What is the status of fashion in Bahia?
MN: In Bahia, we don’t have a pole (of influence) and we don’t dictate anything. People dress in a well diversified manner and Bahian stylists, in spite of the few, are still moving forward. Our fashion courses don’t catch on, they were not created in research centers and textile development and we have trouble buying differentiated material that epitomizes what fashion still needs to take shape in the Bahian scenario.
MAB: What is the contribution that Afro fashion brings to the Bahian and Brazilian market?
MN: I think Afro fashion has the same strength as its color, it’s not simple, it just breaks out. It has different aspects to research which makes it very rich.
MAB: In addition to the brand, are you involved with other projects? Which ones?
MN: Negrif is more than a brand; I’m used to saying that it is a movement, I like for things to change place, transform, be created and recreated and having a brand to stand behind the counter of a shop is not my proposal so I have:
Sexta das Pretas (Black’s Friday) is an event that happens on the last Friday of the month at the store and the day is marked by the arrival of a greater amount of new pieces in the shop which intensifies the movement, the store stays open until 9pm, mixes music and gastronomy. The Sexta das Pretas emerged from a meeting of friends in the store.
Sacola Chic where I make myself available to take to the client pieces from the store to make their choice outside of business hours. I’ve made visits here in Salvador, Feira de Santana, Rio de Janeiro and have requests for other cities such as São Paulo, Brasília, Minas (Gerais, the state) and Maranhão.
Sexta do Amarelo (Yellow Friday) was created from the demand of pieces in this color. It was a real success. I plan to make Sexta do Branco (White Friday) and Quarta do Vermelho (Red Wednesday).
Negrif created a children’s fashion show and a promotion on Facebook for those who have interest in putting their child in the parade, children from 2-12 years old, the result was more than 1,500 children signed up and the event was held in Praça Tereza Batista in the Pelourinho with twenty children on the runway and toy donations to charities (CAASA, LAR VÓ FLOR and LAR VIDA). The 2013 edition is now being prepared.
We have promotions that take place on Mother’s Day, Dia dos Namorados (Valentine’s Day) and Dia dos Pais (Father’s Day), always with awards and Negrif pieces and from partners.
In the month of July a menswear collection will be created where the day will be called “Dia dos Pretos” (Day of the Blacks)” because men get jealous that only women only are a hit at Negrif.
Source: Moda Afro Brasil
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