ARTISTS' PORTRAIT: Ly Dumas, multifaceted designer & philanthropist.

Ly Dumas is a former model who is now a fashion designer, patron, president of a foundation, collector of African art and works of art. Her mission is to pass on ancient know-how, in order to preserve tradition and promote this innovative Africa.

Cameroonian of origin, Lynn Gacha Dumas (her real name), also called “Ma Bat Goup” in Bamilike country, is a pioneer in the field of haute couture and the art of beading. Through her creations, she highlights Cameroonian culture, in particular the Grassfields' one (or Grassland: North-West and West regions of Cameroon).

From the diversity of textiles ...

From the 1990s, Ly Dumas devoted herself to highlighting exceptional pieces reflecting the history of the continent. She tells the story of the production of fabrics using precise know-how, original materials and ingeniously elaborate patterns. Her ambition therefore is to celebrate the creativity and diversity of African textiles!

For millennia, African textiles have responded to much more than a simple need to cover the body. They are true vectors of signs and meanings within African societies.

Its collection unveils millennial textiles such as:

  • velours from Kasai (a variety of fabric made in Kasai, a province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo),

  • Ethiopian cotton sails,

  • the rabal of Senegal (fabric entirely embroidered by hand),

  • the Ndop of Cameroon (fabric of the Bamileke tradition),

  • Faso Dan Fani ("Woven loincloth of the motherland" - Burkina Faso),

  • the Korhogo canvas from the Ivory Coast,

  • or Bogolan (Mali), Kente (Ghana), raffia and wax.

Below, a piece made with Malian bogolan on the central panel, Congolese Kasai velvet embroidered on the shoulders, Ethiopian influences on the collar and the shape of the sleeves.

Robe Ly Dumas - Collection Ly Dumas Créations. Paris, France

The exhibition "Fibres Africaines" (African fibers) is presented at the "Musée de la toile" in Jouy (France) until the summer of 2021. The fabrics and objects selected come from the private collections of Ly Dumas and Anne Grosfilley, anthropologist specializing in issues identities around textiles and fashion in Africa.

The fabrics on display reveal the workings of African societies and in turn express the words of ancestors, the prestige of dignitaries, and the emancipation of women.

Through this initiative, Ly Dumas wants to make africans and the rest of the world aware of the existence of an immense heritage and the urgency of its preservation. She also questions the challenges of the sector in order to perpetuate a craftsmanship that is the subject of know-how passed down from generation to generation.

“Bruissements de la terre des ancêtres” - Jean-Félicien Gacha Foundation & Anne Grosfilley © MTJ/Pauline Pirot

To the art of pearls...

In some traditional African cultures, pearls are an expression of prestige and power. However, Ly Dumas does not stop at collecting these pearls. She creates new forms, as if to reinterpret traditions. She works the pearls by associating them with other materials, other shapes and patterns, "to give it a second existence".

"Pearls are part of my life, they represent pure beauty, accuracy, LIFE indeed. "

The book "Perles. Couleurs d'Afrique" (Pearls. Colors of Africa) explores the origins of this art in Cameroon and presents a large number of traditional objects imagined by Ly Dumas, ranging from rare fabrics to ethnic clothing, including sculptures, jewelry and other accessories.

President of the Jean-Félicien Gacha Foundation (named after her father) since its creation in 2002 , she strives among other missions to boost the creative spirit of young people, by training them in various crafts, including beading, basketry, sewing or even weaving.


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