Most of the women in Brazzaville wear beautiful dresses or skirts made of pagne, a brightly colored fabric that comes in bold, interesting patterns. Women buy the relatively inexpensive fabric in the pagne sections of the market and then take their selections to one of hundreds of local tailors. These tailors can create customized and detailed dresses, shirts, and suits at impressive speeds. Mikhal (HOPE Congo’s Finance Manager and my amazing hostess!) helped me buy fabric and commission a few skirts from a tailor named Bienvenu.
While I didn’t go for the full pagne (top, long skirt, and extra fabric to wrap around your waist and around your head), I did get two skirts made, and I’m pleased with the results!