So, my travels this weekend took me merely an hour away (by train) in search of a panel discussing African Fashion, but, I found so much more!
“African fashion is a movement and a building of community” – Uche Ibezue
Notes from Panel Discussion
- As African Fashion has become more widespread, do you deem it Appreciation or appropriation?
- Majority of the panel felt “Appreciate,” due the fact that the world appreciates its beauty making it become a trend. The internet has allowed designers to be recognized.
- How do you feel about fashion model physique changes?
- Madori mentioned how its been a slow process and more is to be done but fashion designers more accepting of curvy women, allowing an avenue for African fashion
- Are Tribal signs inappropriately used in makeup industry; is it an expression of appreciation or insulting to people’s tribes?
- Majority of the panelists felt that tribal signs should be authentic. Due to the fact that tribal signs mean different things, it is important not to be ignorant to the meaning. It was felt that there is a need to make more of an effort to teach non-africans to appreciate African culture.
- Do the tying of scarfs mean different things?
- Emma: In Botswana, scarfs use to show off their womenhood
- Panelists agreed that scarfs are considered a right of passage whether its to womanhood, to marriage, or death
- Wambui: It’s important to research the society before cutting fabric so that you send the proper message
- Jeanette: Education is needed to bridge cultural gap even among African natives
- How to target corporations to be more sensitive to be more sensitive; does fast fashion take African designs use too loosely?
- Vann: Support the designers who represent the culture correctly, if you want to make a point, make your own clothes/accessories or do not buy from that company
- Emma: As Fashion catches up to what we already know, which is African designers are skilled, there is a new colonization of Africa again but hopefully as fashion migrates to Africa, it is in a safe way that protects the culture.
Tidbits of Uche Ibezue’s powerful speech:
When it comes to Africa fashion… “Our voices must be heard…through Fashion!”
“African culture is vibrant, beautiful, colorful…it is everything!”
DESIGNER DU JOUR – Victor Hou Designs
I was fortunate to have a quick chat with Victor. I loved his collection, especially the gold coin embroidery and the way the clothes moved. There was 3D effect to the fabric, I found it entrancing and mesmerizing. He does all his own sewing. In regards to the fabric that I loved he said he uses Hologram Vinyl. His inspiration was the ’60s…the polka dots, flashes of color, fit, and shift dresses. And he used to strictly use ecommerce, however his
collection will release at Macy’s June 22nd, 2016! So keep an eye out.
The second designer that showed yesterday was Wambui of Mavumbini designs. Not only is she an intelligent and prolific, but also a fantastic designer! Her efforts to make sure her clothing is applicable to the “global woman” were quite successful as exhibited her collection of jackets and tops.
I found the panel, designers’ collections and overall message of African Arts and Fashion Week to be amazing and inspired.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined”
-Henry David Thoreau
P.S. You never know from where you’ll get meaningful encouragement. On my way to the train station, I was chatting with my Uber driver, Gyasi, about the great panel and how I want to help but my limited knowledge on the cultures of Africa may prohibit my ability to adequately write about it…I have so much more to learn. He said, “If the best way you an help to spread the word of the talented African designers is through your words, then that is what you must do.” Little did I know, Gyasi O., was an emerging artist. Here is some of his work. Thanks Gyasi 🙂