Rebranding Africa

Poverty, corruption, political unrest – such are the many images that are usually associated with Africa. However recent events may signify that a new chapter commences for the continent – particularly in its wealth of diversity and design.
With many designers this season taking inspiration from Africa – are we finally witnessing a creative renaissance between Europe and Africa – 2 continents whose history have been intrinsically intertwined for centuries?

Spring/Summer 2012 sees designers such as Christopher Bailey at Burberry heavily influenced by African fabrics and motifs. Equally, exclusive Italian menswear brand Woolrich Woolen Mills is similarly inspired by traditional wax-print fabrics, visible from Accra to Zanzibar and beyond. The trend is however not just limited to luxury brands. High street behemoth H&M reflected the trend too with their recent collaboration with Marni. Boasting record sales in NY, sharp-elbowed shoppers devoured rail upon rail of batik print and accessories.

On a recent visit to East Africa, Italian Vogue editor, Franca Sozzani visited designers, models and artists in Uganda and Kenya – showcasing artistic talent that rarely receives media attention in their respective countries, let alone Europe. Other designers from the African diaspora include Duro Olowu – whose Autumn-Winter 12/13 collection, recently shown in New York, was heralded as a triumph by Vogue.

However the revolution is not only affecting fashion. Ahead of the Nigerian/Ghanaian premiere of the Ozwald Boateng documentary,  A Man’s Story, the Saville Row tailor has also has been rewarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award at ARISE during Lagos Fashion Week. Nigeria’s iconic film industry Nollywood goes from strength-to-strength and is now the third largest in the world, generating over $250 million per year. Africa’s answer to the iPad, INYE was recently re-launched to wide acclaim and many economists believe that over the next decade Africa’s economic growth may well rival and overtake that of China and India.

With events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya still fresh in our minds, could this renewed interest herald an artistic African Spring for the continent, beckoning a new era? It seems the answer is yes, but unlike the ephemeral nature of fashion, let’s hope it lasts for more than just one season.

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~ by cinemalicious on April 6, 2012.

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