In the last post "Forced Africanism: Valentino SS16 Remarks", we discussed and threw quite a bit of well-deserved shade at Valentino's shoot that was set in Kenya with the Maasai people being used as props. You'll have to read that post to fully comprehend and appreciate this. Owing to the constant misrepresentation of the African continent in fashion and other spheres of life, it was a huge relief to see this shoot by Models.com, featuring some esteemed designers based in and operating from the African soil. The colors of the outfits in this shoot will bring joy to your eyes and the beauty and craftsmanship of each piece will tell its own story, one after the other.
They call us "Africa Rising"...
...did we really just begin to bloom?
or did someone somewhere suddenly decide to take notice of us?
CNN has a segment called Africa Rising; this editorial was captioned Africa Rising on Models.com. Here, we will call the segment featuring African designers "African Horizon". Thanks to Romola, who suggested that after reading The Memkoh Newsletter Volume 1 where I asked for suggestions.
We're up there! Better recognize!!!
I was stoked to have been familiar with a good number of these designers.
And do you know why I love this shoot? In all its glory, it takes into account the creativity of multiple designers whose pieces came together in a cohesiveness that is seldom portrayed AND our fabrics...ohhh Lord! Our fabrics and the vibrancy of them all were front and center of these looks.
So dear Western or foreign designer, the next time you want to do anything with that "African" tag, let this entire shoot be a pointer. Try your best not to replicate their designs though; just because they are not as widely known as you are does not mean they won't get there and exceed those set margins. As such, some of us are very vigilant about preserving what's ours. If Moschino's replication of Ituen Basi's SS14 Collection is not enough of an indication that the western world constantly looks in and quietly takes things away, thinking no one will ever notice, then I'm not sure what is.
Instead, replicate the boldness, the audacity and tenacity of the African story and way of life. Let those show in your designs. The Safari representation of African countries is old.
Featured Designers and credits, as seen on Models.com:
Almasika Bridget Awosika Brother Vellies Grey Kenneth Ize Loza Maleombho Meena Needle & Thræd Nkwo Nomad Vintage NYC Omer Asim Omondi Orange Culture Osei Duro Post-Imperial Ré (Bahia) Richard Braqo Third Crown Tree Fairfax Tsemaye Binitie Sophie Zinga Washington Roberts
Photography by Ed Singleton for Models.com
Stylist: Solange Franklin Editor: Irene Ojo-Felix Hair: Sirsa Ponciano Make Up: Laura Stiassni Nails: Yukie Miyakawa Set Design: Lizzie Lang Photography Assistants: Max Bernetz & William Takahashi Stylist Assistant: Kyle Hayes & Kristina Taylor Digital Tech: Matthew Thompson Models: Ajak Deng & Maria Borges @ IMG (New York) Retouching – Silhouette Studio Thanks to – Pier 59 Studios New York