DYNAMIC AFRICA

Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is diverse multi-media curated blog with a Pan-African outlook that seeks to create an expressive platform for African experiences, stories and African cultures.



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Posts tagged "fashion"

Stella Jean Releases her Spring/Summer 2014 Lookbook.

Visually and conceptually, Haitian-Italian designer Stella Jean never disappoints. The presentation of her garments and the looks she creates are always fresh, flirty and incredibly fun. Each one of her collections carry an aura about them that’s both classic and timeless. And of course, aside from the designer’s heritage, wax prints, ankara textiles, bold patterns and colours all remain permanent fixtures in her designs - something her latest lookbook confirms yet again.

The one change that would be lovely to see, however, would be the use of black models in her lookbooks.

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Today’s style inspiration: Louis Philippe de Gagoue.

Hailing from both Cameroon and Cote D’Ivoire, the self-described eclectic fashion stylist, blogger and personal shopper is currently based in Morocco after half a decade living in neighbouring Tunisia.

With a style all his own, there’s a sense of vintage cool, classic sartorialism and modern vibrancy in almost everything he wears. From Congolese sapeurs to traditional North African garments, there’s always a strong African influence in de Gagoue’s visual aesthetic.

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"The Untold Renaissance": Ikire Jones Spring/Summer 2014 Lookbook.

It’s all dapper hommes, suave strides and bold prints and patterns in Nigerian designer Wale Oyejide’s Spring/Summer 2014 lookbook for his brand Ikire Jones.

“This collection pays homage to 18th century textiles and tapestries while exploring the absence of persons of color in Medieval and Renaissance-era European art.  Borrowing from the sampling method employed in hip hop culture, each reinvented piece tells an original narrative from the perspective of Africans who have been placed in an alien context.  Through this reverse lens to the past, the present circumstances of individuals who feel displaced and alienated may also be considered.”

"Bloom": VLISCO’s Spring 2014 Lookbook.

In their latest Spring 2014 lookbook, Vlisco, the Dutch Wax clothing and textile brand with a strong presence in West and Central Africa, reinterprets florals with their appropriately titled ‘Bloom’ collection.

Today’s style inspiration: Haute couture and high, high heels from Angolan fashion blogger Soraya de Carvalho of ‘Style is My Thing’.

How a Ghanaian entrepreneur turned his “impossible” dream into a reality.

A few years ago, Fred Deegbe was working as a banker - a profession that left him somewhat unsatisfied with the lack of impact he was having in the world. After buying a pair of Oxford wingtips at a store to impress a friend, Deegbe began to wonder if such high quality luxury shoes could indeed be manufactured in Ghana.

Despite the negative feedback he received from those who believed that such shoes couldn’t be made in Ghana, Deegbe wasn’t dissuaded from his idea of starting a shoe company in Accra. With no knowledge of the shoemaking industry, and armed only with passion and his gut feeling, Deegbe teamed up with friend Vijay Manu (pictured right) to start their luxury shoe and accessories company ‘Heel the World’, based in Accra.

Although the shoes are all handmade in Ghana, the goods used to make them are imported from places like the United States and Italy putting the price range of the shoes between $200-$400. This is Deegbe’s greatest challenge: proving that the shoes are worth the money they command.

To hear Deegbe tell his start-up story in his own words, watch this clip from CNN.

Introducing ‘Fomi’: Ethiopian designer Afomia Tesfaye’s luxury leather and footwear label.

Birthed in 2011 through the vision of it’s ambitious founder, designer and creator Afomia Tesfaye, FOMI is a collection of luxury handbags and footwear that consists of locally sourced materials and is made in Tesfaye’s homeland of Ethiopia.

Representing the young entrepreneurs foray into the world of design for the very first time, Tesfaye’s interest in design and fashion was cultivated by her travels throughout her childhood as the daughter of a diplomat.

After earning a degree in Literature from UCLA, and with experience at top fashion publications, Tesfaye travelled back to Ethiopia with the intention of developing an accessories line. She soon found out a critical fact that would then propel her to birth FOMI. Ethiopia produces some of the world’s finest quality leather. Armed with this quality assurance, Tesfaye began to work on her first collection and the rest, as they say, is history.

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The LaurenceAirline Spring/Summer 2014 Lookbook is here.

Heavily influenced by creative director, founder and designer Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud’s travels between France and Cote D’Ivoire, we once again see the menswear designer incorporate a mixture of subtle but classic motifs and designs from both of her geographical influences. The looks are simple but highly dynamic presenting both casual and formal aesthetics.

See the entire lookbook.

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Giving thanks to Alek Wek: The importance of a supermodel.

I never tire of reading Alek Wek interviews. Her presence in the modelling world did wonders for my often down-trodden self-esteem whilst growing up. It still does.

Wek, often the sole black face amidst a sea of the many white visages I’d see in the pages of the fashion magazines I became obsessed with was always greatly outnumbered. Few other black faces accompanied her on the runway and in print. Similarly, I constantly found myself in social settings comprised of the same demographics.

Before high school, most of the schools I attended were majority white. At one particular school, I was the only black student in my year for an entire semester, and the only black girl between grades 4 and 8 for that same period of time. You can imagine what this sort of alienation did for myself esteem being in my highly impressionable and formative pre-teen and teenage years. To my non-white friends with flowing hair and skin that was either much paler than mine or at least a ‘nice kind of brown’, I represented all that was undesired in the world of beauty. I was not white, I was not mixed or exotic by any means. I was black, another synonym for plain. My skin? Too dark. My hair? Too stiff when natural. Relaxed? Not even close to what they had. And so the list went on.

Oddly enough, you’d think I’d be somewhat relieved to see someone like Alek Wek receive the kind of seemingly positive attention she did from the fashion world. Au contraire, mon frere - at least at first. At the time, I couldn’t understand why they’d chosen her. She seemed to represent all the things that seemed wrong with blackness in the eyes of my non-black peers. Her skin? Much too dark. Her hair? Much too stiff (if she weren’t bald). And so the list went on. How, in any way, could I look to this woman as a source of inspiration when nothing about her seemed to comfortably fit the standards of beauty defined, and often confined by, whiteness? After all, these standards plagued not just my personal life, but that of the world I lived in. Why had fashion chosen her, or at least someone that looked the way she did? Was Wek chosen because she represented an anomaly in the world of beauty? Or because despite all the notions of beauty that seemed to stand against her, she defiantly refused to accept them and in doing so, redefined how we see and construct beauty and what we consider beautiful?

Being of Dinka descent, Wek stood out physically not only from the white models that overpopulated the fashion industry, but also from the small number of black models the West had heralded both before her and during her time. Her looks seemed to make a statement, whether she liked it or not, in a world that, rather oddly, both embraced and rejected her at the same time. Where she was hired by top Haute Couture designers and graced the covers of numerous high fashion magazines, she was often a token in the fashion world and seen as exotic by the very people that claimed to celebrate her beauty.

In all of this, I found it extremely difficult to interpret, at the time, that Alek Wek’s presence was important primarily because she was there. Not that there hadn’t been black models before her, but her particular beauty had never been celebrated in such a manner before. Whether or not the world approved of her beauty was something that didn’t matter to Alek Wek. She was visible - highly so, and she was not going anywhere. Whether I was aware of it or not, Alek Wek’s visibility was important for the reasons that made me reject not only her but myself during that time. Alek Wek was important because her presence assured people like myself that we deserved all the things we were made to believe we were not worthy of, and needed no one’s permission as proof.

This recent Guardian interview of Alek Wek highlights so much of why Alek Wek is truly one of the most important women in the world of fashion - ever. Here’s an except that demonstrates why she’s so incredibly important and inspirational.

Wek was born in South Sudan, arriving in London when she was 14, and was acutely aware of how different she was from the other big models of the day, women such as Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova; while growing up, she had no knowledge of trailblazers such as Iman and Grace Jones.

“There was no concept of fashion and catwalk shows where I came from,” Wek says. “There were no magazines. I never saw women in makeup, or with different hairstyles. Absolutely not.” Now, she says, there are so many South Sudanese girls working as models it is not a big deal; in the late 1990s, she was one of very few successful African models. “There were black models, but no one as dark-skinned, and none with Dinka features, that’s for sure.” Even so, she was regularly mistaken for Naomi Campbell, an entirely different-looking model from Streatham with a Jamaican-born mother. She laughs at the ridiculousness: “A black woman is not ‘a type’. I never had any interest in those jobs that asked for only black girls. What the hell is that? Would you be comfortable saying you wanted only white girls, or Latin? Are you kidding me? It’s baffling.”

At a time when black models were considered commercially more viable if their hair was relaxed, their complexions light, Wek (very dark skin, cropped natural hair) was confident of her value. I have interviewed many models and, without fail, when asked if they always knew they were beautiful, each of them has given me a look of mock horror before going on to list their unsightly features as a child: big feet, too tall, gawky features. But when I ask Wek, she immediately replies, “Oh yes, of course.”

(Read more of the original article ‘Alek Wek: ‘You don’t have to go with the Crowd’)

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Bongiwe Walaza’s 2013 Collection Re-Fashions A New Image for Shweshwe Fabric.

Not sure why it’s taken me so long to come across the work of South African designer Bongiwe Walaza but I recently did and subsequently fell in love with her latest collection that was showcased at the Mercedes Benz Africa Fashion Week 2013.

The award winner designer founded her eponymous label in 2003 and describes her line as ‘Afro inspired haute couture’. Using western feminine silhouettes, Walaza makes use of Shweshwe textiles - a printed dyed cotton used by various Southern African ethnic groups believed to be named after Lesotho’s King Moshoeshoe I who was gifted with the fabric by the French missionaries in the 1840s.

It is also known as “German print”,sejeremane in Sotho, and ujamani in Xhosa, after 19th century German and Swiss settlers who imported the blaudruck (“blue print”) fabric for their clothing and helped entrench it in South African culture. [x]

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Taking Headwraps and Fabrics to a Whole New Level with AD Magazine Russia.

Photographer Olga Volkova Tuponogova-
Stylist: Natalia Obukhov
Model: Keshia Asiedu
Producer: Maria Kuznetsova
Makeup artist: Polina Karpov / MaestroArtExtraordinary
Assistant Photographer: Konstantin Egon
Assistant Stylist: Katerina Konyushenko

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