Born into family specialising in couture in 1984, Joseph Marie Nga Ayissi quickly picked up interest under his father’s tutelage. His dad being a men’s tailor, naturally geared Ayissi to follow in his footsteps. Ayissi as he is fondly called, originally from Yaonde, continues to attribute his progress to his father inspiring him.
Fast-forward to 2005, Ayissi would later move to Paris, where he continued to hone his skill, finally launching his business –Wazal Couture. His chosen brand of fashion is unique with a focus on dinner jackets. A typical Wazal Couture jacket is bold and spectacular due to its intricate colouring and use of expensive materials – mostly leather.
The name Wazal as Ayissi often explains is of Cameroonian origins with Waza representing the Cameroonian National Park and the “L” standing for Lion. Both symbols forming WAZAL are the bedrock of his label and for him the Park and Lion draw on 3 strengths; audacity, respect and creativity.
While in Paris, Ayissi mentored under the established Imane Ayissi – another tailor of Camaroonian origins. It was Imane that encouraged Ayissi to attend the prestigious Vanessa Ruiz Fashion School in Paris to specialize in Tuxedo Jackets.
Since then, Ayissi has continued to grow in popularity as his masculine creations are definitely an expression of his African Heritage with a Parisian haute couture finish. Ayissi is an inspiration to others and this was obvious in 2013 when he was featured as a special guest at the celebration of the Cameroonian Youth Day held at the Cameroon Embassy in Paris. More recently, his collections like the ‘Ova Tété 2016/2017 Collection of chic streetwear have been showcased on Parisian Runways. Ova as explained by Ayissa means “bigger and noble person” while Tété refers to being chic and bourgeois.
Ayissa is still very much on the way up and he is not one from shying away from speaking the truth about challenges he has faced as an upcoming designer in a foreign land. In an interview with the online Flash Magazine, he was asked how he managed to overcome obstacles that face young designers from Africa and his reply was “I can adapt to any environment, I’m always seeking perfection and when I encounter an obstacle I always face it, I’m an anti-conformist”.
Some popular European celebrities like Singuila, Lalcko, Romarick Koffi and Wayne Beckford have been seen wearing Wazal couture which is mainly available online. Ayissa likes the online medium but will consider “brick and mortar” as option in the near future.
Giving back is also something Ayissi is very much passionate about and to accomplish this he has set up a sewing workshop in Yaonde to train and share ideas with aspiring young Cameroonians.
Wazal is on Facebook and Twitter as Wazal Couture and on Instagram as ayissijoseph3.
Thank you Ayissi for your story, DC recognises you and wishes you well as you climb to greater heights. Bien joué mon ami!