What inspired you to start Masaari?
"In 2007 I went to Africa after not stepping one foot there for 23 years. It was a revealing and liberating experience for me! Colors, prints, and music everywhere! I went straight back to my fashion school, and charged in with a strong idea of my future fashion identity. It took me years to have the courage to create my own line, and to think to have “plus-size” extended to “regular” sizes. This year, I was struggling to find clothes with style, and something click in my mind. I wanted a change! So, I started to design clothes with wax (African print fabric), and after seeing the bigger picture, Masaari was born!"
How has your cultural background influenced your design aesthetic?
"My family is from Africa, so I have always been surrounded by beautiful women wearing traditional African clothes. African people LOVE clothes, have a big sense of style, and are proud of it. It’s our culture and engrained in our DNA! This has influenced my relation with fabrics and my approach with colors and prints. But, of course, I am passionate about tribes, folklore, arts and crafts of various countries, not only Africa."
What informed your decision to start a line inclusive of curvy and plus-size women, with such a wide range of sizes from a 6-24?
"I think women should be able to shop together, no matter what their size is! It’s so frustrating to go shopping with friends who don't wear the same size as you. Shopping must stay a sociable, fun, and stressless activity ! Plus, I am a curvy woman and I wanted to have access to my own clothes."
How does designing for curvy and full-figured women differ from designing clothes for the size 0 - 12 set?
"I don’t think there is such a big difference. Regardless of size, the goal is to enhance women, embrace their curves, create a perfect look on the body, and never use fabrics that look cheap."
How do attitudes towards plus size fashion and women differ in Paris than they do in the US?
"There is a big difference between US and France about plus-size fashion because there are fewer full-figured women in France, which means there's also much less choice with plus-size fashion in France. When you are a full-figured person in Paris, you stick out of the crowd. In the US, the clothes are cut more close to the body and are more fashion-forward than here in France, where instead, women are encouraged to hide their curves, hide their shapes, and instrinsically hide who they are. Fortunately, my collection has had a very warm reception in both countries. You will find Masaari in some boutiques in New York and can now order the pieces online."
How does Masaari differentiate from other plus size brands?
"My first concern when I think a piece is 'How it will bring self-confidence to women?' This brand is totally an invitation for pride and joy!"
What is your favorite piece in your collection, and what are the different ways you can style it?
"J’adore the top Coco and the Angie top! Thanks to the double slider we can wear them in different ways. I like to wear the Angie top with my Levi’s skinny jeans and python moccasins. I wear the Coco top very open in the back, layered with a long black skirt, and wear an accumulation of necklaces and bracelets on both hands."