script> Africa Moto: October 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Africa on the Runway

I posted a photo recently on my Facebook page of the Moschino Cheap and Chic Spring Summer 2013 collection without a caption which led to a debate on my page about African fashion on international runways by non-African designers. Some of my friends felt that fashion exploits and that we shouldn't be excited to see international designers celebrated for the hard work of African designers. I took the position that I didn't see much harm in other designers being inspired by Africa, that is if they acknowledged the culture or country they are inspired by, especially with increased globalization many designers are inspired by traditional cultures from all around the world.

 I have to say that I was taken aback by reports that Burberry Prorsum had denied that its Spring Summer 2012 collection was inspired by Africa, especially given its use of largely wax print fabrics usually associated with West Africa. Many of us may also remember the discussion over Matthew Williamson's SS 2008 collection inspired by Ethiopia. I think the key issue there was whether it was an inspiration or if his designs were direct copies of the Ethiopian national dress.

Well I decided to do a little bit of research on Africa on the runway in this lovely book and online. It's trend I don't forsee waning anytime soon as "Africa rises" and more African designers continue to show their collections inspired by the specific cultures, colors and scenery of the 54+ countries on the continent on international runways. Here are some African inspired designs from the New York, London, Paris and Italian runways over the years:

Yves Saint Laurent Spring Summer 1968 

Dolce & Gabbana Spring Summer 2005
Dolce & Gabbana Spring Summer 2005

Alexander Herchcovitch Spring Summer 2007

Alexander Herchcovitch Spring Summer 2007

Christian Lacroix

Christian Lacroix Spring 2008

Diane von Furstenbery Spring Summer 2008
Oscar de la Renta Spring Summer 2008

Oscar de la Renta Spring Summer 2008
Oscar De la Renta Spring Summer 2008

Matthew Williamson Spring Summer 2008

Juanjo Oliva Spring Summer 2010

Michael Kors Spring Summer 2012
Donna Kara Spring Summer 2012

Donna Karan Spring Summer 2012
Burberry Prorsum Spring Summer 2012

Burberry Prorsum Spring Summer 2012

Moschino Cheap and Chic Spring Summer 2013

Monday, October 15, 2012

Handmade in Mali

 I am finally getting around to sharing with you pieces from the womenswear collection I did earlier this year for a campaign we were initiating in Mali, called "Coton du Mali", a collaboration between designers, hand weavers and dyers in partnership with the Ministry of Handicrafts and Tourism and the Centre Cultural Francais in Bamako. Inspired by the vivid colors and traditional skilled craftspeople of Mali, Munnie and I initiated a campaign to promote Malian fair trade cotton and artisans. The goal of our initiative was to inspire and promote slow fashion that creates jobs and sustains tradition by making local textiles sexy through good design. My collection used bogolan (mud cloth) and handwoven fabrics including some organic cotton, and also incorporated indigo dyed fabric for timeless traditional-modern designs. I had used handmade fabrics in my own home  and my kids design, but this was my first time using them in my womenswear collection.

Unfortunately a week before our fashion show and the launch of our campaign, the coup happened, its still very surreal to think that earlier this year junior military officers staged a coup d'etat that reversed the peace and relative democracy of Mali plunging the country into chaos. So sad, because in my more than two years in Mali, I never felt unsafe, and really enjoyed exploring and appreciating the craftsmanship of that country. I do remain hopeful that peace will be restored to that country. 

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