Updated: Jun 16, 2018
In 1967- over four decades ago, Yves Saint Laurent presented his ground-breaking visionary collection, Bambara. He was inspired by the African ethnic group of the same name- a Mandé people based in modern day Mali. This was a couture collection that celebrated their language, the culture and people, and one that showcased the confluence of culture and fashion. He expressed this integration through his choice of materials, trimmed with exoctic, intricate and complex beadwork, and handmade embroidery.
This fascination with the African experience is one that has resonated through the decades since, and one that has presented itself on many levels, from the elevated runway into popular culture.
This trend has been maturing through recent fashion seasons, and currently, international spotlights have landed upon several designers with African heritage. These include, Italian-Hatian born Stella Jean; London-based, Nigerian-born designer Duro Olowu; young comer Nigerian-American swimwear designer Buki Ade of Bfyne; and South Africa’s own Laduma Ngxokolo of MaXhosa by Laduma (who can call Beyoncé a fan, and has been dubbed
‘the prince of knits’ as he makes a global mark with his authentic designs).
Nigerian-American designer and entrepreneur, Buki Ade, was inspired to start Bfyne after an unsuccessful shopping trip for a unique and creatively designed swimsuit. Motivated by their motto, “Unleash your inner Fynebabe”, this swimwear line declares the power of bold african colours and print, which accentuate the female form. With an online fan base of more than 200,000 followers, and appearances in magazines such as Vogue, Glamour and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Bfyne designs continue to move the Africa-centric movement into the mainstream.
Stella Jean is an Italian-Haitian fashion designer who never seems to forget the multicultural positioning of her creole heritage. The African Kente fabric shown in her looks this season are filled with prints, patterns and vibrant colours- as she pays homage, in her collections to the current global Africa-crazy phenomenon.
Bold and assertive graphics and flamboyant colours and prints, merged with global-inspired tailored touches, define Duro Olowu’s current designs.
Drawing inspiration from both his Nigerian roots, and London where he now resides, his innovative designs have attracted a host of supporters, including Michelle Obama. The former First Lady frequently wore his pieces. She also invited him to decorate a room in the White House in 2015, which was complete with teddy bears made of vintage African prints.
Inspired by prints, Trinidadian designer, Shop Shari celebrates the diversity and beauty of culture- especially the African heritage of the Caribbean. Her background in graphic design and her passion for pattern and colours have delivered a diverse and distinct collection of pieces that speak to the Caribbean experience. Look for Shop Shari at the upcoming MoDA Market.
Written by: Fidge Fletcher