Ambroise Tézenas

Des sneakers comme Jay-Z

Portraits et paroles d’exilés
co-réalisé avec Frédéric Delangle

Cela se passe au centre d'accueil d'Emmaüs Solidarité de la porte de la Chapelle, en 2017. Un an environ avant sa fermeture. Et plus précisément cela se passe à la «  Boutique », le lieu où les hébergés (exclusivement des hommes)  peuvent profiter de dons de vêtements de seconde main, du slip à la paire de chaussettes, en passant par les pantalons et les chaussures. Un lieu stratégique, et un moment intense pour les hébergés mais aussi pour les bénévoles. Car à «  la Boutique » le travail est difficile. Les exilés au moment du choix y sont anxieux, stressés et parfois exigeants. Oui exigeants.
 Un soir d’hiver, Zaman, un jeune afghan – arrivé en bermuda et en tongs après avoir marché seize mois depuis Kaboul –, s’est présenté au vestiaire de l’association Emmaüs Solidarité à Paris. Il m'a demandé sans trop y croire si par hasard, dans le tas de tennis usagées qui lui étaient présentées, il n’y aurait pas plutôt une paire de baskets « des baskets pas moches….Des sneakers comme celles de Jay Z …"
L’idée du projet est partie de là.
Valérie Larrondo, bénévole chez Emmaüs Solidarité depuis 2016, accompagnée de deux photographes, Frédéric Delangle et Ambroise Tézenas, un vidéaste Sylvain Martin et de trois autres bénévoles ont entrepris d’en savoir plus. De comprendre ce qui se jouait là tous les jours pour chacun d’eux, devant les caisses d'habits d’occasion. Ces vêtements qu’ils portent et qui ont appartenu à d’autres... Que représentent-ils pour eux? 
En quoi ils dénoncent, en quoi ils trahissent, ou en quoi ils les protègent (et pas juste du froid et de la pluie). 
Parmi tous les habits, ils ont choisi une tenue et ont pris le temps d'expliquer pourquoi. 
Pourquoi ces chaussures, cette forme de col, cette couleur de veste. 
Tous ont pris le temps de parler. De poser. Des moments intimes, parfois drôles, parfois graves. Toujours dignes.
Cette cinquantaine de portraits réalisés "à la chambre", comme un moment de rencontre, calme et intime …et ces moments précieux d’interviews ont été nécessaires pour comprendre à quel point le vêtement est tout sauf anecdotique dans leur vie. 
Ce vêtement, c’est leur carte d’identité. 

Sneakers Like Jay-Z
One day, Zaman, a young Afghan presented himself at the center of the Chapel, the "bubble" managed by the Emmaus association and which was deflated last April, after having welcomed by more than 25,000 migrants recorded 60,000 passages. Exiled in 18 months of existence, this young man, who had been walking relentlessly for months from Kabul, needed shoes, and at the shop he asked if there were sneakers–not too ugly, sneakers like Jay-Z's.
This is where the photographic project "Sneakers like Jay-Z" was born . Because this anecdote led the photographers and others volunteers to question the social function of clothing for refugees–and especially to ask them the question. In cases filled with shoes, sweaters, coats, they choose what is their size but also what they like.
A colour that evokes family or homeland, a duffle-coat that makes you feel "on par with" those they meet in the street or, quite simply, a cap "too swag": The reasons that led them to choose this garment rather than another one say a lot about their history, their personality, their individuality.

 The photographers Frédéric Delangle and Ambroise Tézenas immortalized them with the jacket or trousers of their choice–at this moment when they were beautiful.
Presented at the Festival of Arles, the work of explores the social function of a garment for refugees: to merge in with the mass, to be on a "foot of equality" or simply to be "swag".


Photographes : Frédéric Delangle et Ambroise Tézenas
Conception et Direction Artistique : Valérie Larrondo
Coordination et Partenariats : Sabrina Ponti
Interviews : Marion Perin, Vanessa François, Sabrina Ponti et Valérie Larrondo
Vidéaste : Sylvain Martin


Ambroise Tézenas - 1


I am 20 years old, I come from Somalia.

I like these clothes…I like dressing up like an American.

In Somalia we don’t wear such tight clothing, we put on clothes which are far more loose.

My family wouldn’t like to see me dressed like this.

They would find it too close to my body.

In France I am free to dress how I like.


Ambroise Tézenas - 2


I am 18 years old and from Guinean.

My other clothes are what my friends have given me. I have nothing.

I like black. This black jumper. In the street, we are not well-dressed.

I came here on Friday, I was on the street. I have nothing else than what I have on me.

Ambroise Tézenas - 3


I am 19 years old. I come from Sudan.

I chose this t-shirt because it’s really nice and it’s also my size.

It fits me like it was my own.

It goes well with my turban. In Sudan, in my region, all the men wear a turban. It’s not always the

case in other regions.

The one I’m wearing now I got in Istanbul.

I can wear black or blue but I prefer not to wear red, it’s ugly.

Ambroise Tézenas - 4


I am 37 years old and I come from Afghanistan.

I really like the clothes I have chosen because they have a French style, I am really happy that you

have given them to me. I want to be good-looking, well-dressed and above all clean, just like in

Afghanistan. I was a farmer. I grew rice, but even in the fields, it was important to be well-dressed,

immaculate and in the traditional Afghan style.

Above all it’s the young who dress like you in France, but I prefer the Afghan style.

I brought traditional clothes from my country with me, but I have nothing left.

I arrived in Paris empty handed.


Ambroise Tézenas - 5


I am 19 years old and I come from Gambia.

I love black and I chose these joggers because Nike is my favourite brand. How I am dressed now

means I could go to any meeting.

In Gambia I was already wearing Nike clothes, originals, imported from England. But you can find

second class copies in Africa and the first class clothes, they are the originals. You can really see the

difference. But it’s normal to be well-dressed, if you want to be respected, it’s good. Chris Brown, for

example, has swag. We are all human and whatever people give you, as a refugee, you have to be

proud to wear.

Ambroise Tézenas - 6


I am 24 and I come from Mali.

I like fashion. Gucci is my favourite brand, along with Adidas and Nike.

I think it look stylish with the clothes I have chosen.

And also girls, they like it when you dress well, you are calm, you are defined by your style, you’re

sitting down, chill without chatting too much. With us, at least, that counts.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got any money, but you’ve got to be well dressed.

I dress in the same way in Mali: trainers, hats, gold rings.

But since leaving Libya I no longer have any jewellery, they took it all from us.

I left with rings, watches, a telephone but I have nothing any more, they took it all from me.

Ambroise Tézenas - 7


I am 24 and I come from Sudan.

I really like this ‘Romantic’ jumper.

Dark blue is my favourite colour.

In Paris fashion is a lot more beautiful than in Sudan.

Ambroise Tézenas - 8


I am 21 years old. I come from Guinea Conakry.

I have no more clothes because this morning the police put gas into my tent and then tore it down.

I fled and found nothing left when I came back. Here I have chosen a beige-khaki trouser which is my

favourite colour.

It is a unique colour. To be stylish means you attract people towards you and give a good image of


The traditional fashion in Guinea is very colourful with electric colours in the patterns.

Shirts aren’t in our culture. There are tunics and sarouels. But the traditional fashion in Guinea is

more for the older people. I can’t lie; I am not really very traditional when it comes to clothing. There

are occasions where you have to: like at celebrations, it is good to wear such clothes then. But here,

we want to live like everyone else.

My idea is to not offend anyone, I came here to try and fit in, I don’t want any problems.

That’s why I said I am afraid of images.


Ambroise Tézenas - 9


I was born on the 15 March 1993 and I come from Guinea.

I chose a black jumper, in remembrance of my difficult journey.

I experienced a shock when we were in the dark. Wearing black, it’s like I have won. A symbol of


Darkness, because we travelled in containers in Mali with the heat.

We crossed the desert in trucks, frightened of weapons. This dark jumper, it’s positive.

Ambroise Tézenas - 10


I am 21 years old, I come from Somalia (Mogadiscio).

I am dressed in an ushanka and a coat that I was given in Russia.

I love this jumper and the hip-hop style.

If I am asked how much I paid for it, I will say it was a present.

I love Paris, the people are nice compared to in Stockholm, Berlin or Warsaw

If I had some money, I would buy a black jacket and Nike trainers.

I look good in black because I have caramel coloured skin.