Dapper Resilience: Africa’s Fashion Revolution

South Africa Fashion Week 2013 Collection.
(From left to right, designs by House of ole & Skorzch)

In recent history the number of black models featured in major apparel and beauty campaigns in America has increased tremendously. It is becoming evident that progression is on the horizon. America is realizing—BLACK is BEAUTIFUL.

Anai Ekalino by Orin Fleurimont

It’s impossible to discuss black beauty without looking to the motherland, AFRICA. When picturing the continent of Africa, as a young American, I see the media’s portrayal of a torn land, ridden by AIDS and poverty. What the media doesn’t highlight is the creative revolution being led by talented African designers. Media outlets rarely showcase the spectacular African models, pummeling runways with powerful signature walks, draped in eccentric garments by some of the world’s most talented and innovative designers.

Vlisco 2012

My sudden interest in Africa’s emerging fashion scene was sparked by Solange Knowles’ new music video, “Losing You”. Her first video following her four-year hiatus, directed by Melina Matsoukas, was shot in Cape Town, South Africa. This stylish music video highlights the trend awareness and dapper eloquence that lives on the continent. With a throwback feel and classic simplicity, the video’s wardrobe inspired me to do more research into the fashion roots extending throughout present-day Africa. [For a look-by-look break down of the fashion in this video, see MTV Style’s featured article.]

While flipping through the 900+ pages of my September issue of Vogue magazine last month, I stumbled across a spread introducing, Arise Magazine, Africa’s first and most affluent style magazine. In reviewing a photo gallery from Arise Magazine Presents African Icons, @ NY Fashion Week, I spotted several inspirational looks by one of my favorite designers, Ozwald Boateng. While Boateng was born in London, his parents emigrated from Ghana in the 1950’s. Boateng presented his immaculate Spring/Summer 2013 collection as the grand finale for the show.

Ozwald Boateng’s Spring/Summer Collection: Taken from http://www.AriseLive.com

In order to see which fashion trend predictions from the Fall/ Winter 2012 Collection have come to life thus far, I backtracked to Arise Magazine’s Fashion Week, Fall/Winter show in Lagos. Below I’ve featured a few stand out looks by, a new favorite of mine, Kenyan designer, John Kaveke. I was instantly drawn to his collection. With his fearless use of bold patterns, textiles, and color blocking, his designs are SEAM-ingly flawless.

Kaveke, Arise Fashion Week, Fall/Winter 2012

To catch up on all things black in the world of high fashion, be sure to check out Italian Vogue’s online blog, Vogue Black.

Vogue Black has everything from international features on black icons & celebrities, to a section called ‘New Faces’, which introduces readers to up-and-coming fashion models of color.

Every part of the world has its flaws, and it is clear that members of the African fashion community have been resilient in protecting the integrity of their craft despite the tribulations at hand.

Remember, it takes true talent and determination to shine through all odds.




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