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Out of Africa

With wooden beads, jungle prints, copper bangles and raffia, Yves Saint Laurent moved Africa in the realm of high fashion for his 1967 Spring/Summer Collection, described by Harper?s Bazaar as ?a fantasy of primitive genius?. Born in Oran, Algiers, Yves Saint Laurent described his birth place as ?a town glittering in a patchwork of all colors under the sedate North African sun? and African influences were rooted in the way he framed the female form, in his use of colors and fabrics. Since its impact on high fashion, Africa stayed as a source of aesthetic inspiration for many designers.

With wooden beads, jungle prints, copper bangles and raffia, Yves Saint Laurent moved Africa in the realm of high fashion for his 1967 Spring/Summer Collection, described by Harper?s Bazaar as ?a fantasy of primitive genius?. Born in Oran, Algiers, Yves Saint Laurent described his birth place as ?a town glittering in a patchwork of all colors under the sedate North African sun? and African influences were rooted in the way he framed the female form, in his use of colors and fabrics. Since its impact on high fashion, Africa stayed as a source of aesthetic inspiration for many designers.

 

 

In the past few years a new generation of designers from the continent itself achieves acclaim, attracting an international clientele by integrating Africa?s traditions, stories and its deep rooted ideals of beauty and adornment into contemporary fashion. This exciting and cross-cultural chapter in fashion includes Lagos?s Jewel by Lisa, a label loved by singer Kelis, Johannesburg?s Black Coffee, Accra?s Christie Brown, London?s Duru Olowu and New York?s Mataano.

Jewel by Lisa

Duro Olowu by Andrew Osunmu

Maki Oh by Jan Lehman

In her new book New African Fashion Helen Jennings, editor of ARISE magazine, writer and fashion expert, offers a brief history of African fashion, beauty and style, its influence on modern designers and illustrated by hundreds of vibrant full-color images, New African Fashion spotlights the best designers, photographers and models from across the continent and the African diaspora.

Helen Jennings and Shingai Shoniwa

Buki Akib by Milly Kelner

Christie Brown by Justin Polkey

Tiffany Amber by Justin Polkey

The History of Fashion in Africa is one of a constant flux, with African aesthetics evolving through empires, conflicts, slavery, colonization, migration and globalization, growing into an indigenous and vibrant mixture of African textile traditions, colonial dress and global modernity, with fashion trends fostered by individual creativity, personal charisma, and social ambitions. New African Fashion shows how designers are looking beyond clich?s of the African aesthetic and embrace both traditional and contemporary fabrics and garments, displaying courage and pride as well as an abundance of humor and creativity.

Eric Raisina by Misha Taylor

Kluk CGDT by MishaTaylor

On Wednesday, November 30 from 6-8 p.m., Helen Jennings will host a round table discussion followed by a New African Fashion book signing at the New York Library as part of its design and style series. She will be joined by Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim of fashion label Mataano, by designer Mimi Plange, by former international runway model and fearless campaigner for diversity in fashion, Bethann Hardison and Heritage1960s Enyinne Owunwanne.

 

For more information on New African Fashion please click here.