Hot seams: Africa’s influence on the global fashion industry

| Scene Fashion Columnist
Jamie Luca | Dallas Morning News | MCT

A model wears a Duro Olowu short-sleeved cotton jacket along with a high-waisted wool pencil skirt (Club Monaco). a silk chiffon ruffle blouse (Barneys New York) and Derek Lam platform pumps (Neiman Marcus).

Fashion trends

For the past few fashion seasons, the tribal trend has been en vogue with inspirations from Africa leading the way. For their lines, designers drew from experiences on safaris, the colors and patterns worn by traders in the markets of Marrakesh and the intricate beadwork many African women and men wear to adorn themselves. Oscar de la Renta’s 2008 spring collection included raffia hats and geometric prints. Earlier this year, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe declared that the tribal trend is very in this spring. From wooden bangles to bold African jewelry and prints, anyone can adopt this trend.

Fashion designers

Duro Olowu: This up and coming Nigerian designer first took the fashion industry by storm in 2004 and has been designing phantasmal prints ever since. Residing in London, he draws inspiration from the architecture as well as his memories from home. His success has been so great that in 2005, before showing his clothes on any runway, he was honored as the New Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards and has even dressed First Lady Michelle Obama. In an interview with The Independent in London, he was quoted as saying, “My job is not about dictating to women what they should wear; it’s about presenting them with beautiful options.” On his design aesthetic, he told Vogue magazine that “good design is international. It makes sense anywhere.” His signature style consists of combining very detailed Yoruba prints with a tailored, 70s-inspired twist. In this industry of playing it safe, I would consider him the mix master, as his mixed print collections are always refreshingly unique. His line can be found in Barney’s or Jeffrey’s.

Fashion magazines

ARISE Magazine describes itself as “the first global fashion magazine dedicated to the achievements in African fashion, music, culture and polity” according to its Web site (www.arisemagazine.net). ARISE editor Helen Jennings, said of the magazine: “ARISE breaks cultural and editorial boundaries with its mix of up-front international news, exclusive interviews and luxury fashion stories. I’m proud to say ARISE is like no other global glossy.” First launched in fall of 2008, the monthly magazine gained popularity in the spring of 2009 with its official launch. On Feb. 13, 2009, the magazine showed an African Fashion Collection on the runway at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, attracting the best African models in the industry, including Liya Kebede, Alek Wek and Oluchi. The collection served as a platform for many burgeoning African designers to showcase their work in a fashion hub. Since then, there have been two additional African Fashion Collections with the fall/winter 2010 show critiqued in the Telegraph UK and the Wall Street Journal. The magazine can be purchased in Washington, D.C., New York, London, Paris and Milan as well as in many cities in Nigeria and South Africa.

HauTe Fashion Africa

Nigerian Oluwadamilola Amolegbe, editor in chief of HauTe Fashion Africa, first launched the magazine in 2006, saying, “I had a shopping bug, but craved only designers of African descent, searched all over the internet to no avail, and was disappointed, especially since I am Nigerian and I know how much we love Fashion! I couldn’t believe there was no directory of African designers that represent my country/continent well, and I also knew they existed. So I decided to combine my love for my country/continent, fashion and magazines and create Africa’s Foremost Fashion Magazine—HauTe” on the Web site www.fashionafrica.com. The Web site not only features a directory of African designers and models, but also African artists, runway photos, podcasts, a blog and a street style section, all updated regularly.

-Stay Stylish!