September 8, 2017

New Kids on the Block

The international stylemakers shaking up the Deep Ellum end of Main Street

It’s been decades since the stylish set flocked to the downtown neighborhood of Deep Ellum for designer and vintage finds unavailable in Dallas’ more conventional retail outlets. But for Blank Canvas owners/curators Fode Sylla and Ladislas Mande, it was the perfect spot to establish an avant-garde showroom of fashion and design.

“I talked to five places in town and gave them proposals, and they all insisted we carry certain brands,” says Mande. “But the owner in Deep Ellum said, ‘You’re the first person to come in with an idea like that.’ I didn’t even talk to Fode about it, I just signed the lease.”

The duo’s fashion roots run deep. London-based Sylla spent decades managing showrooms and had previously curated a space inside London’s original Dover Street Market. Zaire-born Mande has more than 18 years of buying, consulting, and designing under his belt. The two met at a Las Vegas trade show in 2016, instantly identifying with the other’s aesthetic, and a sartorial partnership was born.

When Mande’s parents moved to Dallas, he deemed it the perfect city to support their vision. Adopting the motto “every man is a blank canvas,” the  duo pulled the shop together in only a month, keeping the brick-walled interior unadorned aside from iconic black-and-white photographs from rockarchive.com.

Calling on their relationships in the industry to create a modern, international mix, they sourced Gothic gowns by Copenhagen-based LVMH Prize finalist Cecilie Bahnsen, crisp denim from street-smart London menswear label Art Comes First, traditional tartan kilts by Le Kilt, and Savile Row-style suits from Joe Casely-Hayford.

Accessories include made-to-measure shoes by the Japanese designer Nao Yokoo, one-of-a-kind jewels from Italian Francesca Villa, and the world’s most extravagant shower slide, crafted of mink by LA-based Brit Zizi Donohoe. Vintage fans will delight in a small selection of pieces dating from 1986 to 2000 by the likes of Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons.

While prices range from around $50 for a candle up to $14,000 for a yellow sapphire ring, Mande wans to offer something for everyone. So much so, a sister shop next door is already in the works with a built-in café helmed by Chef Bobby Pollette.

“There’s a lot of brands we want to add,” says Mande. “We’ll have high-end pieces, but also sell a five-dollar thing from Paris or Japan. If you come to Deep Ellum, you want to leave with something.” —Kendall Morgan

The Details 2646 Main Street. 214.514.6700. Monday and Wednesday through Saturday noon – 7 p.m.


Photo | Elizabeth Lavin