Sadiya Gueye shows off material from her shop in Dakar, Senegal. Sadiya Gueye shows off material from her shop in Dakar, Senegal. [Enlarge] Entrance to the Complex Sadiya Hairstyling Fitness

The sign over the entrance of the Complex Sadiya in downtown Dakar, the capital of Senegal in West Africa, announces the multitude of activities taking place inside.

Fashion design, ready-to-wear patterns, a modeling school, hair styling, fitness…

The people of Senegal dress in elegant, colorful and elaborate garb. Their wardrobes represent traditional African patterns with an avant-garde twist of functionality as well as their inherent dignity in Senegalese culture.

It’s in this context that Sadiya Gueye works to enhance the stylish customers of her native country.

Ms. Gueye was among the small group of visitors accompanying Thierno Lo, the minister of crafts and tourism, when he came to Atlanta in early March for the official opening of the country’s tourism office in Buckhead.

And she is back in Atlanta for a week, having arrived July 19 with another delegation that first accompanied the visit of Senegal’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, to Chicago.

While her fashions already are available in France and elsewhere in Europe, they have not had an outlet in the U.S. and one of the reasons for her trip to Atlanta this week is to visit the AmericasMart downtown, a center for fashion shows and collections.

After 30 years in New York, Senegal traded the Empire State Building for a Buckhead address at the Pinnacle Building, 3455 Peachtree Road.

Prompted to consider the move by a nonstop Atlanta-Dakar flight, the cancellation of the flight has not deterred the tourism office from promoting closer ties between the Southeast and West Africa.

Atlanta has the second largest Senegalese community in the United States, behind only New York, and is a source of African-American visitors with an interest in exploring the African continent.

And Delta continues to have three weekly flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Dakar.

Formerly a top model for Europe’s best-known fashion houses such as that of Yves Saint Laurent, Ms. Gueye launched the institute in Dakar upon her retirement from modeling more than 10 years ago.

Since the opening of Complex Sadiya, the organization has made progress in its mission to promote the talents of Africa’s youth.

More than 50 students attend from several countries in Africa, including Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea.  Both young women and men are enrolled in the style, modeling and fashion design programs.

The whirring sewing machines, music and lively activity can be heard throughout the complex. Every room contains rolls of bright fabric and dresses, shirts, shoes and head wraps as works in progress or final products. Next year boutiques connected to the complex and facing the street are to be built.

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