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Hair and make-up backstage

At the first dress fitting for the NIANGO fashion show, the first time I got to actually hang out with the designer Rachel-Diane, she started a sentence with, “When you’ve done shows like this before…” I interjected with a very elegant, lady-like snort laugh.

This was certainly a new experience to add to my résumé. As you can probably tell, I had so much fun. It was like playing dress-up for grown-ups. And there was a red carpet. Of course, there were also cameras and a video crew and people I knew in the audience, but as long as I didn’t think about that part… so much fun!

So here we go… 9 things I learned as a model for NIANGO

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More is more, y’all.

1. Strong women can strut their stuff confidently in spike heels on the runway. Stronger women know when to say, “Um, I really can’t do that well so I’m going to wear with a more down-to-Earth level heel so I don’t fall flat on my face.”

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See my friends Jenn and Diana? (I didn’t. I was too focused on not falling!)

2. When it comes to runway hairstyles, more is more. Period. And if you’ve never played around with hairpieces (les postiches), you should give it a try.

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Crazy bedhead is in, right? Maybe I’ll keep this look…

3. I now know one word in the Sawa languages, spoken in the coastal region of Cameroon. ‘Niango’ means ‘woman’. (See? Now you know it too.)

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4 elements dancers opening the show. (Maybe next time they’ll ask me to dance!)

4. Shoulders back, chin up (not too up!), look straight ahead and smile with your eyes.

Striking her pose
Striking her pose

5. Well-designed dresses are cut to flatter women of all shapes and sizes. (I loved the little peek of leg with the dress I wore!) I tried several dresses at the fitting and then saw them on the models the night of the show and the dresses all seemed to adapt to the person wearing them. Très impressive.

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I loved this dress.

6. Dakar’s fashion blogosphere is awesome. I got to meet (and share a red carpet with!) some women whose blogs, Instagram feeds and Facebook pages I’d been quietly following for a while. But since I’m not being quiet anymore, HELLO La Bulle de T., Red Lips Beauty and In the Eyes of Leopar!

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Chillin’ backstage with Téclaire, taking selfies for IG

7. The NIANGO designs in this collection are ‘modern, ethnic and elegant’. I was hoping to at least represent two of these three, but I need to work on my laugh-snort before nailing elegant.

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The venue was a mosaic gallery over in Les Almadies.

8. Walking fast is a lot easier than walking slowly. Also smiling is a lot easier than not smiling.

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The end of the show

9. Rachel-Diane is not only a talented designer with a compassionate heart for women in difficult situations, she is graceful under pressure and has a beautiful laugh.

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Rachel-Diane, the designer

More on NIANGO’s new collection here! Rachel-Diane donates a portion of each sale to the Association Unies Vers’Elles to help at-risk women and children.

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A wonderful collection, a wonderful evening. Thanks, Rachel-Diane!