Bisrat, Fashion Designer
Today The Soul Edition is happy to focus on a woman we really love: Bisrat Negassi.
Bisrat is a very talented and prominent fashion designer. Her collections always bring something new to fashion. As she like to describe her brand, Negassi is transcultural fashion, a universal language inspires the creations. The Line represents a modern and classic design, with Afro/Asian influences and has a German conceptual perspective. Her creations are manufactured in Germany where she lives.
Bisrat had to flee Eritrea at the time in civil war at the age of 6. After two years in Sudan, she and her family moved to Germany. She studied architecture, but quickly realized she wanted to work in fashion. Through an encounter, she joined the Jak Fashion Academy in Hamburg. She graduated and moved to Paris. With the help of her friends, a hair stylist Philip Mensah and the Top Models Debra Shaw, Yasmeen Warsmae, and the Celebrity Stylist Kithe Brewster, she quickly released her first collection. A real success. Her clothes are inspired by the Paris, her travels and experiences during her childhood.
Many artists are found of her design. Beside her brand Bisrat created The Negassi Salon that continues the idea « fashion meets music » – The sessions started in 2013 on tour in Paris with Ayo, Gary Dourdan, Badíe, Zuzoom and others. In 2014 the Salon followed up in Hamburg with Raul Midón, Okou, Astrid North and Badié. It was amazing moments!
As you can understand Bisrat is a true inspiration to us, that is why we wanted to wanted to know more about her.
TSÉ: Where are you from?
Bisrat: Oh..to make a long story short: I was born in Asmara Eritrea, and now living in Hamburg Germany.
TSÉ: Could you describe one of your typical day?
Bisrat: My weekdays starts at 6.30, -preparing first myself and then bring kid to school, -after have my breakfast – from 9h to 16h i do my work, starting with emails, phone calls, a bit creative work and welcoming my customers.
TSÉ: How did you became a fashion designer?
Bisrat: That was a long way, and i had no clue i was going to be a fashion designer one day. I first started with different studies ( communication designs, architecture, photography) and then by chance i met the director of the JAK Fashion school in Hamburg and the designer Lamine Kouyate, both of them inspired me to study fashion, and that was the best decision ever!
TSÉ: How do you embrace your blackness? Was it a long journey for you to be confident or was it natural?
Bisrat: Yes, unfortunately it was a very long journey to get to my present self-confidence and determination, concerning the skin colour. My childhood in Hannover wasn’t really fun. So since i was the only black kid at school, i was the target for every racial attack. It was a hard time, to arrive in Germany after experiencing the war, and to get to the next war zone called school. Mistreaten, beaten up and so on…One can not imagine how kids can be harmful to each other. Anyhow, by moving to the bigger city Hamburg, new school, more diversity at school, that made a little tiny change. I would say with HipHop, MTV and all the african american culture being imported to Europe things started to change. All of a sudden, as a black person, you were invited to partys. But, just because it was so chic to have a black person at the celebration. Its the positive racism;).
It was then more subtile, but at the same time very obvious. Anyhow my turning moment was when i went to NYC for 5 month in my early twenties, that was the AHA moment. WOW, no body is starring at me. No one wanna touch my hair…. Being black was fine!! Seeing all the black folks there and everywhere in all those different shapes etc., was an amazing experience for me. It felt normal, being not the only black spot in the field….the target.That was it, that was when i dig up my self-confidence that was hidden during my childhood.
TSÉ: What does it mean to be a woman of color today?
Bisrat: Generally being a woman, i have the feeling we are going backwards or lets say: stucked in the past. To live a “normal basic“ live its reserved to just a privileged minority. If we think globally the majority of women can’t do what they wanna do and live an equal life. Thats is depressing and heartbreaking, when i think of the child marriages…or how many women get abused and mistreated by their own families, just because being a female. As a black woman today, -I am from Eritrea, and we Eritrean had 30 years war for independence (1961-1991)- and that struggle was to free Eritrea from the Ethiopian Opression first, but also for the Equality of woman. Thats what I was tought, and raised by my beautiful parents. I am equal, and have equal right as a man. And thats what i believe, live and fight for. No matter my skin colour, being a woman and living in the diaspora, its my mission to teach my daughter and the youngsters about equality and giving her the self-confidence to be the best of herself she can be. Whatever they wanna accomplish- everything is possible!!
TSÉ: What are the living personalities that inspire you the most (both professionally and personally), but also in style?
Bisrat: My mother is my biggest inspiration! With her strength, warmth, tolerance, kindness as the young woman she was and the wise woman she is and of course my style icon through all the centuries. Other than my mother, my inspirations are endless from Music (Diana Ross, Billie Holiday, Patti Labelle) Movies, Architecture, Literature,…
TSÉ: What is your morning beauty routine? Do you have a ritual?
Bisrat: Never thought of my routine;), but a cold shower in the morning first to wake up & good blood circulation, after getting dressed- I do my hair, Lipgloss and put on Mascara…never go out without putting on Mascara
TSÉ: Do you wear perfume? If yes what is your fragrance?
Bisrat: I use fresh and fruity and men fragrance…Egoiste/ Chanel and Jo Malone.
TSÉ: How would you describe your personal style?
Bisrat: Simple with a little twist
TSÉ: What are your basics?
Bisrat: Jeans- almost Jeans addict with Negassi’ Tops.
TSÉ: What jewelry do you wear?
Bisrat: I don’t wear much, except for my Eritrean handmade GoldRings Sibbto“ and Ear Necklace from Cosh Paris
TSÉ: What are your beauty essentials?
Bisrat: For my face, my body and my hair I use a homemade mix with vegetable, fruits & Olive Oil For Makeup I use Studio 78 products!
TSÉ: What are your favorite places?
Bisrat: – Shopping: Le Bon Marché, Merci, Vintage Store wherever i travel..
– Restaurants and hotels: Paris; Le Nicois, Hotel Particulier Montmartre, Huts (Asmara), Ziegenhof in Kuhhorst/ Berlin
– Book shop: Frank& Steinwarder Hamburg/ Paris: Shakespeare and Company
– Work out – home wood floor
– Art: M.Bassy Hamburg, Gallery Melike Bilir Hamburg, Uffizi Gallery Florence, Guggenheim, Palais de Tokyo Paris..…endless
TSÉ: What are your favorite travel destinations?
TSÉ: What advise would you give to young women to empower themselves?
Bisrat: To believe in themselves, and if there is the Will there is a l w a y s a Way!!
Cover photo by B. Lux. Photos: courtesy of Negassi.
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