A new and upcoming fashion designer, Diarra Gueye is a young Senegalese photographer published in Vogue Italia and the New York Times who currently blogs on revesdores.com about her passion for fashion, art, style, photography and travel. When asked what inspires her work, her answer is simply; dreams. At 16, she was chosen to represent her country on the merit of strong academic and personal achievements to join the selective United World College in Flekke Norway.
‘I had to learn English in a matter of months and I used the art studio as my outlet when no words could translate my homesickness. I started to draw, paint and slowly the beautiful colors in my palette turned into English words I could speak and understand.’
From Norway, she went to college to Minnesota to pursue a BA in Mathematics and Economics. Diarra graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 2011 and went on to become a bond trader, in Wall Street.
‘Living in NYC is an inspiration. Everything is big, sparkly, magical and possible. I bought a DSLR camera with my very first paycheck and started capturing everything around me, from opulent street fashionistas to overwhelming scenery in this concrete jungle. Every day, I imagined I was a traveler, a designer, a photographer, a star, an artist.
After a recent car accident that left her in a coma for several weeks, Diarra took a leave from Wall Street and returned to her home country in Senegal to recover.
‘Those long days, spent lying in bed, unable to move allowed me to take the time to really rethink my priorities. I survived and I had to stop dreaming and start living them. I always wanted to be an artist, but as I grew up, it got complicated with family expectations. Although on crutches and unable to sit, I was determined to develop my skills as a photographer and work on a new blog before returning to New York.’
She started submitting her daily photographs of family, scenery and friends to Vogue Italia and the New York times and soon enough got published. She kept documenting every aspect of her recovery period in her blog reves dores (‘Golden dreams’).
‘After the accident, I decided that revesdores would become my happy diary and would allow me to document everything beautiful I created or liked while recovering. When I reached 19,000 followers in less then 2 months I realized something bigger had to come out of these golden dreams; they had to come true’
A few weeks later, Diarra launched dakarboutique.com, Senegal’s very first online shopping site. A new concept in Senegal, Diarra responded to a culture not yet comfortable with online credit card purchases by allowing customers to pay in cash at delivery. She established a door-to-door delivery service in Dakar where it is otherwise non-existent.
‘The db style was really inspired by my background and travels. I grew up in Senegal, lived in Norway, Minnesota and New York. I have travelled a lot across Europe, the US and the Carribean and my designs take bits and pieces from all my experiences to suit any world-class shopper. When I think about db, the words that come to mind are chic, sophisticated, eclectic, vintage, tribal, exotic, minimalistic yet relatable to anyone. I think it is only natural to say that db was the translation of my golden dreams into wearable art.’
Diarra also founded a non-profit foundation dedicated to sponsoring children’s education worldwide; the Global Education Movement (GEM).
‘I believe all children are gems to be protected and my biggest dream is for the entire world to share that vision.’
A portion of Dakar Boutique’s profits go directly to support the GEM foundation.