All Articles Tagged "African-American fashion"
By Danielle Kwateng
In the abundance of the beatnik monochromatic tones of the 60’s, Yves Saint Laurent was inspired to take another route in his spring/summer collection of 1967. After being fired from Dior and creating his own private label five years before, he felt that his mark on fashion had to go in a distinct and artful direction—that direction led him to Africa. Sticking to the same formula of streamlined, androgynous silhouettes — popularized by models like Twiggy at the time — Congolese wood beads, sea shells and animal-teeth-shaped beads rarely used for Haute Couture were now in his collection.
But this was not the first time African cultural aesthetics had been the inspiration behind European work. For centuries designers, painters, musicians and even culinary enthusiasts had and have taken elements from the continent and used them for their benefit.
The debate of fashion exploiting Africa has always been an interesting topic to me. In a recent post on Racialicious, writer, Rafael Flores discusses this anomaly and the ways the fashion community can embrace African culture without being exploitive. Flores notes that designers like Thakoon donate a portion of their collections’ proceeds to specific causes in the region they take inspiration from.
My perception of African culture has always been that it is—in all forms—so unique and one-of-a-kind that any attempt to mimic it is an obvious reflection on its untouchable authenticity. But the masses and numbers seem to disagree with great press garnered by Louis Vuitton and John Galiano of Dior for their inspired work. The New York Times recently said of Donna Karan’s Spring-Summer 2012 line,”Africa is calling for those designers who want to offset streamlined modernity with something more earthy and tribal. Donna Karan has always had an instinct for crossculture, it was not surprising to see her describing neckpieces mixing wood and Lucite as part of a ‘tribal-tech’ drama.”
(Uptown) — When husband-and-wife design duo Brian Merritt, 30, and Autumn Dennard-Merritt, 28, decided to open their first boutique, Solemates…Chicago, in 2007, they were determined to etch their mark on the city’s fashion scene with vintage sneakers and indie clothing brands. Two years later, the couple launched their own private label, Sir & Madame, and in 2010, they moved to Ukrainian Village and rebranded their boutique under the same moniker. The smart line of 1930s- to 1950s-inspired separates, accessories, and home goods is a refreshingly classic yet contemporary approach to street fashion. We caught up with the hip parents of two—Ari, an ever bouncing toddler, and Milo, born last May—to find out the secret of successful spousal entrepreneurship.
(The Root) — Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week begins today, kicking off more than 200 fashion shows and events that will happen at Lincoln Center and other locations through Sept. 15. Shows will preview what’s coming for the Spring/Summer 2012 season and showcase special events, like the taping of the finale for the popular fashion reality show Project Runway. Among the cadre of black designers showing is B. Michael, a favorite of actresses such as Cicely Tyson and Phylicia Rashad, who shows his collection at Fashion Week. Michael talked to The Root about the changing fashion world and black designers’ presence at Fashion Week.
(New York Times) — THE best posts on the style blog Street Etiquette find its principals, Travis Gumbs and Joshua Kissi, in motion. As opposed to the fascistically frozen street-style snaps of The Sartorialist and others, these pictures are styled and plotted fictions but also affecting ones, depicting a pair of young black men taking ownership not just of the body and what goes on it, but also of the environment it moves in. No one ever smiles on Street Etiquette: there’s business to attend to. Most days, the actual business of Mr. Kissi and Mr. Gumbs takes place in a work-space-cum-clubhouse on Bergen Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. With vintage sweaters hanging from the ceiling and art books lining the walls, this is the nerve center of the Brooklyn Circus, whose flagship store is just a few dozen steps away, and which is a key collaborative partner for Street Etiquette, which began as a basic beautiful-things blog in 2008 but is now one of the foremost online repositories of black style.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, urban fashion lines were nearly non-existent. Today, they represent a large part of the fashion marketplace. Live Mechanics is one of the fashion lines which responded to a market demand for more culturally-creative men’s fashion. Established in 1999 by Osa Odiase, the Los-Angeles based line prides itself on reflecting a fusion of politics, music and street fashion. TAP correspondent Brandi Fowler got to sit down with Odiase to discuss the inspiration and business of his 12-year-old brand.
In the past elaborate hats were synonymous with church. If you attended church services, chances are you were accompanied by a plethora of head adornments worn by women of the church, specifically older women; but is this now a style of the past? Is the wearing of church hats a trend that has finally run its fashion course?
For some women, church has not only been place to worship; it’s been an outlet to don their Sunday’s best. Although elaborately dressed from head to toe, one of the most popular Sunday items of choice for many women has been the church hat. Purchased in different shapes, colors, and sizes, some women have an abundance of hats to complement each Sunday dress.
Wearing church hats is an African tradition initiating during slavery. During this time, black women dressed for church sprucing up their hats for Sunday service. This ritual of adorning the head for worship is an African tradition passed down from generation to generation. And while many faithful church women paid special attention to their Sunday linens, some allowed their ‘hat game’ to take precedence, becoming the center of attention.
From hat contests (yes those actually existed) to other areas shedding light on the long standing trend, most of us have witnessed the significance of church hats to many older women. One producer found the obsession with church hats so fascinating; he created a play based off a book of photos by Michael Cunningham.
We all know that Africa is a continent and not a country, right? Right! Well, it is also a source of inspiration for many fashion designers. Celebrities of all hues have been donning the attire that represents the Motherland in a diverse array of patterns, cuts and colors. Dig into these well known names who rep Africa on red carpets and runways.