- Edition 7, Chapter 6 -
by Alexander Brebner
Aissatou Cisse was born in France, and has lived in NYC for 9 years. Her “day job” is Operations Director at advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, but her passion project is developing her own line of women’s clothing under the label Combine des Filles (short for combination, french for jumpsuit) now available at Thistle and Clover in Brooklyn. Created with the assistance of BFDA (Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator), an affiliate of Pratt Institute that supports emerging designers with sample development, pattern-making, and small-scale production, she describes her Spring/Summer 2016 collection as “effortless, minimalist – less is more – which is how I am looking at clothing and style in general.”
Aissatou remembers feeling isolated as a child, because she didn’t look like everyone else. “My mother is mixed-race and my father black. My name is a combination of Aisha, the wife of Mohammed, and Marie is my middle name, which is Catholic. It’s the story of my life: I’m both.”
What she really wanted was to blend in, but her hair made that wish unlikely to come true. “I grew up feeling ashamed of it and wished it were different; I tied it up all the time to erase the curl.”
But 10 years ago she unleashed and embraced her hair. “My then boyfriend (who I am still very close to) told me that if I didn’t do it he would leave me. He understood that I was hiding, so I took him seriously. I went to the hairdresser and had it cut too short to tie up. It was an internal change that made me feel closer to who I am supposed to be, and opened my desire for self-expression.”
The Hairstory experience is unusual for most people, but even more so for Aissatou because, “I have only gone to a professional hairdresser five times in my whole life,” including her time with us, she explains. “I waited to find someone who gets me – my less-is-more attitude, which you have too.” She found herself instantly trusting Wes, Roxie and Michael, “because I understood their goal wasn’t to change me, but to make me a better version of myself. I felt respected.”
See Aissatou’s latest jumpsuit collection at aissatoumarieb.com.