We had the pleasure to interview Claudia Gisèle Ntsama, a very young fashion and textile designer. Let’s discover her path that, from Cameroon, took her to Milan Fashion Week.
Claudia Gisèle Ntsama was born in Cameroon, where she received a first education in the field of fashion. Later she moved to Italy, where she attended the Fashion Design course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. During her studies, she falls in love with hemp, a noble, ecological fiber, not yet so widespread in the fashion world.
Discover more about her and her view on the fashion world below:
Questions for Claudia Gisèle Ntsama
- You are a very young designer, could you please tell us more about your story and your background?
- How did you become a fashion and textile designer?
- Where does your passion for fashion come from?
- What is your source of inspiration for your creations?
- What are the values of African culture that you want to convey in your creations?
- Where did the idea of using hemp to make your clothes come from?
- Can you explain the process of making your clothes using hemp?
- What do you want to express with the collection you presented at “We Are Made in Italy”?
- Could you tell us the meaning of GISFAB, your brand’s name, and what it represents for you?
- What are the future plans for your activity?
#1. You are a very young designer, could you please tell us more about your story and your background?
I am Gisele Claudia Ntsama, born and raised in Cameroon. After finishing the elementary school, I decided to enter the fashion world because I wanted to take a different path from my brothers and also because, when I was little, my mother used to sew crochet. Furthermore, I always watched a tv series with Kimora Lee Simmons and I wanted to be a designer like her who was also a model.
I first went to a technical college and then, after my first diploma, I went to the technical high school of Ngoah Ekélé because fees were cheaper there. Immediately after my diploma in “Brevet des Techniciens Industrie de l’Habillement”, I enrolled in an Italian language course. When I was still in high school, I had already told my mom that I would continue my path in Italy being the right country for those who want a great career in the fashion and luxury sector. That’s how I found myself in fashion.
I arrived in Italy in 2012 and in 2016 I completed my bachelor’s degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. I continued my master’s degree also in Bologna and graduated in May 2020. While I was a student, I had opportunities as a trainee at the Bagatto atelier in Bologna as a seamstress, I did an internship as an accessory designer assistant at Delicious Choice, then I did an internship in Belgium as a textile design assistant for textile printing.
During my studies I went to France for a year to study as a textile designer at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in Mulhouse. I participated in fashion shows organized by the Academy both inside and outside the school, I participated in events such as Linea Pelle “CREAMODA BOLOGNA”.
I was invited to fashion shows in Bologna, Ferrara, Ancona, Prato and also in Tunis and, in 2017, I decided to propose my first capsule collection in store which was first sold in a store in Florence and later in Bologna.
In 2019 I participated in the Milan Design Week, then in July 2019 I took part in a project called CAM-ON at the Laba Douala school.
In February 2021, I took part in the Milan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2021-2022 curated by Afro Fashion Week Milan, National Chamber for Italian Fashion and with the support of Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan. Today I am an intern as a print designer at Ratti.
#2. How did you become a fashion and textile designer?
I became a textile designer gaining experiences during my studies because I always wanted to create everything from scratch, from fabric to dress, in order to be unique and different from others.
#3. Where does your passion for fashion come from?
As I said above, my passion was born from an early age in elementary school. I wanted to be different from my brothers who had studied economics and architecture. I liked watching the TV series with Kimora Lee Simmons, she made me dream and, at that moment, I had just decided that I wanted to become like her and, why not, better than her, without forgetting the fact that my mother did crochet stitch.
#4. What is your source of inspiration for your creations?
Now I do not follow trends because I am still experiencing so many things that I too try to understand, to discover and as long as I am the one who decides on my creations, I do not limit myself.
In my opinion, following trends means setting limits, following exactly what is trendy. For sure I will, but not for now. It depends on what I want to present, sometimes I am inspired by Africa using ethnic fabrics or fabrics called wax, then gradually I get on well with the Asian style of which my favorites are Issey Miyake, Yamamoto and Watanabe.
Other reference designers for me are: Valentino, Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli, Alberta Ferretti, Imane Ayissi etc.
#5. What are the values of African culture that you want to convey in your creations?
As cultural values that I would like to convey: never forget manual skills because we Africans are very good at creating beautiful things manually, and Italy is also very good in that “crafts” sector. This is why so many of my creations so far have been done more manually. Purity, therefore, that is staying in the right using pure, natural fibers and using natural processing techniques.
#6. Where did the idea of using hemp to make your clothes come from?
I have always liked everything that is natural because, in my opinion, it represents true beauty. If I had all the possibilities in the world, I would only use natural things. While I was a student I was looking for a natural fiber to use in my collections, then I discovered hemp, I studied not only its history, but also the history of other natural fibers. Even my Master’s thesis was about potentially sustainable fibers.
I did a lot of tests, researches with hemp and I realized that I had found what I was looking for for many years. However, I wanted to enhance that fiber which unfortunately is seen as an evil plant, but on the contrary, it is good for the skin, it does not harm nature, it does not require pesticides. Furthermore, it is also used for the construction of machines, in medicine as treatments, beauty products, food products, and in the construction of houses.
#7. Can you explain the process of making your clothes using hemp?
I would like to explain the manufacturing process, but I can’t because it is my specialty.
#8. What do you want to express with the collection you presented at “We Are Made in Italy”?
What I would like to express in my creations with the We Are Made in Italy project is:
- The creativity that a foreigner can bring to the fashion world in Italy
- Prove that we too are capable of achieving beautiful things, but we need support and instructions
- We are not at home, but we want to feel at home with Italian fashion
#9. Could you tell us the meaning of GISFAB, your brand’s name, and what it represents for you?
GISFAB comes from GISele FABulosity and is inspired by Kimora Lee Simmons. This is why I say that from elementary school I already had the name of my brand in mind. But now I’m back from my name Gisele Claudia Ntsama which represents my brand and myself.
#10. What are the future plans for your activity?
As for my future projects, I continue to pursue the idea of eco-sustainability in my research and then let’s see what will come out. Especially with the period we are going through, it is very difficult to plan things with certainty.
We want to thank Claudia Gisèle Ntsama for telling us her story and letting us know more about her work.
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If you enjoyed this article, read also our interview with Joy Meribe!