“I am an African
Because she is the cradle of our birth
And nurtures an ancient wisdom
I am an African
Because she lives in the world’s shadow
And bursts with a radiant luminosity
I am an African
Because she is the land of tomorrow
And I recognise her gifts as sacred” - Wayne Visser
For many westerners images of Africa are of sickly thin malnutritioned children, mud huts, drought, Aids and lions. Not of a continent of wealth, culture, beauty, strength and phenomenal fashion. Yes, fashion. For years fashion has been associated with New York, London, Paris and Milan. When African fashion is considered, it has something do with leopard print, cheetah print or some sort of animal. And it's immediately considered African. I'm sure other countries have leopards. Our appreciation of African fashion seems
to only go so far. At New York fashion week, this year they showcased the ARISE: Promise of Africa Collective ,with designers such as David Tlale,Tiffany Amber and Eric Raisina showing the west that Africa has more to offer to fashion than animals. The designers African silhouette exuded elegance with a European sophistication, of which could easily place them on Sloane street or Rodeo Drive.
They are not the only designers the continent has to offer. With designer such as Stiaan Louw, South Africa’s answer to conceptual minimalistic design. Looking at his menswear collection for ’09, based on tribal experiences he presented diaper tied cardigans, low waisted waistcoats; plaited boat anchor ropes were used as belts or trouser suspenders and full length coats. Tribal indeed. Stiaan’s collection however, breaks down the normal conventions of what tribal is. Here it seems Africa isn't the only continents with tribes, clubs and the streets are tribal. The collection enforces the ideal that “people choose to define themselves through their association with specific social, sexual and cultural subcultures”. Stiaan’s designs don't end there however, with his “Next Generation” campaign, which revolves around the idea of manipulating a single garment for many uses is what the collection is about. His palette mainly consists of beige and off whites. One thing that strikes me about the collection is Stiaan's sense of fun using only fiery red headed models. The hair colour of the models elevated the richness of the colours used on the pieces. But enough about Stiaan, another designer from the rainbow nation is the design duo Vanya and Thando Managliso, who have formed Sun Goddess. Sun Goddess doesn't shy away from staying truly African with their range of fabrics originating from the Sotho people, Tswana, Xhosa and Zulu to name a few. The amalgamation of these fabrics makes Sun Goddess stand out from the rest with their Parisian couturier feel. They pieces in the Positive Rocks, Couture show are a testament of that. With their use of African eccentricity in terms of patterns, opting for puff ball silohuettes, drapery and corsetry. Colours made the pieces look regal with uses of blue, red, white and cream. Sun Goddess is truly upping the ante in African fashion with a sublime sense of luxury and prestige. Hopefully shifting or adding a focus to African fashion weeks.