NYFW Meets the Paper Fig Fellows

September 21, 2018  

“Have you ever had a picture in your head and it doesn’t go away until you create it, and then it goes away?”

That’s the question Emolsa Haasacha asked the crowd gathered at the Paper Fig Foundation event during New York Fashion Week. He was showing images of his work projected on a large screen, and this particular image was an androgenous form with long, wild hair obscuring the face, and its reflection beneath.

Haasacha has been working with Laurie DeJong and Rachel Young, along with other LDJ staff, on Kampala Fashion Week for the past four years. “I met him on his first day as a volunteer at Kampala Fashion Week,” recalled Young, a Producer with LDJ. “We were training models in the hallway how to walk… I saw this young kid out of the corner of my eye watching and listening and observing me. As soon as I walked away, when I came back he had my job.”

In New York, Haasacha rose to every occasion, whether training models or helping backstage or sharing his story with PFF board members. “I want to change Uganda,” he said as he flipped through images of his work: a black Adam and Eve, the first albino model in Uganda.

“I want to go back home and inspire my people... Being in New York has really opened my eyes. Emolsa – you could do so much.” DeJong agrees. That’s why, after several applications to become a Fellow, Haasacha finally got his chance this year. “Emolsa is one of the hardest working people I know,” she said.

“We’ve done Kampala Fashion Week for several years, and I have watched him grow. He’s a smart businessman, and we are opening doors for him, but he is diving through them.”