There was a time the world and especially Africans would not be caught dead in an African designer outfit. A person who wore an African designer label was considered less cultured and an easy prey by the upwardly mobile snobbish lot. You could be “Proudly Gucci, Versaci, Prada,” but “Proudly Jewel by Lisa, Stoned Cherrie, Alphadi, Eric Raisina?” “Oh no, no, no!” Barely five years later, from decades of spite towards the African designer, the world has transitioned to a time of standing ovation and applause. Within and outside the diaspora, it is not unusual for any fashion-forward persons worth their salt to drop names like Jewel by Lisa, Bunmi Koko (July’s Ladybrille Woman of the Month) and so forth.
Welcome dear “Ladybrillers” 🙂 to another great month with Ladybrille Magazine. You are in for a treat in our July 2011 Fashion Designer Edition!!
Key events have helped African designers become popular on the lips of the world. First, the wife of the World’s Most Powerful leader, First Lady Michelle Obama, rocks African designers Bunmi Koko and Duro Olowu; Second, through the help of African fashion bloggers and fashion professionals behind the scenes in the West, even American & European celebrities also now rock African designers. Examples include Singers Dawn Richards, Solange, Mel B. and Mya, E-News Presenter Catt Sadler, Actress Nicole Ari Parker, and the list goes on.
Third & finally, American & European designers themselves continue to be inspired by Africa and have incorporated African fabrics into their collection. Notable brands include: Boxing Kitten, SUNO, EDUN, Diane Von Furstenberg, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton and Thakoon to name a few.
The landscape for African designers and design has become truly very interesting and exciting. I also think it has become quite challenging.
Folks, how do we define “African designers?” Who is an “African designer?” Really? It seemed Africa’s fashion industry designers were very content with saying we are “African designers” based on taking “African” prints and cutting and shaping the fabrics into modern silhouettes. But, when the West who have created these “African” fabrics start embracing its own fabrics and cutting and shaping the fabrics into its own modern silhouettes, where does that leave the “African” designer?
To this end, Ladybrille articles “Will the Real African Designers Please Stand Up” and “20th-21st century African Fashion, Decades of African Style,” takes on this issue.
We also commemorate this important edition with two significant features on very important personalities in Africa’s fashion industries, both in Europe and Africa.
Jan Malan based in South Africa is our Ladybrille Man of the Month. Malan has a very rich CV encompassing his immense contributions to the global fashion industries, and particularly Africa. Malan contributed to the World’s modeling industry with his discovery of Supermodel Oluchi Onweagba through the Face of Africa Model show he conceptualized in 1997.
On the fashion design end, Malan has been responsible for the success of many African designers with his countless fashion shows in 19countries on 4 continents that properly package and present African designers. Malan is also responsible for all of the Arise New York Fashion Week shows so far, has produced for Capetown Fashion Week, Joburg Fashion Week, Swahili Fashion Week, Arise Magazine Fashion Week Lagos and too many shows to count. Jan Malan grants his first USA exclusive interview to Ladybrille Magazine.
Our Ladybrille Woman of the Month, Bunmi Olaye of Bunmi Koko, is also an important personality you get a chance to meet in our Fashion Designer Edition, this month. Barely two years since launching her label with her business partner Francis Udom, Bunmi has become the go to fashion designer. Bunmi’s name became instantly recognizable, worldwide, when U.S First Lady Michelle Obama commissioned Bunmi to design a coat for the First Lady. We are honored to have Bunmi Olaye as Ladybrille Woman of the Month for July 2011 in her first USA exclusive indepth interview with Ladybrille Magazine.
Finally, all month long, it is really less talk for us as we focus on bringing you the best of the best African designers look books and latest collections. It is one full month of splurging on African designers and designs; and we hope you enjoy the month as much as we will!
Stay connected with us. Tell us how we can improve to make your experience with us even more memorable. If you are a designer with your latest collection or look book you want featured on Ladybrille, please email ([email protected]). For our African musicians, send us an email at ([email protected]), for partnership, sponsorship collaborations, etc. send an email to ([email protected]).
Happy summer, have a brilliant month ahead!
Uduak Oduok, Esq.
Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.
I really like this post because for some time now I have been pondering this very topic and am glad to see that I am not the only one.
Especially when you go to a store like Aldo for instance and see the Platform heels with the Ankara print, where does one classify that in terms of African fasion, also does this really add to moving our industry forward or exploit it?
Another example is that since Ankara became "in" every designer including the mall stores (Even Target & Walmart) created a version of African print, which then creates de-sensitization I believe.
I know labels(definitions) are usually frowned upon but should the true African designer, the one's that bring something to the table in terms of re-investing in Africa, African talents etc be put in a category of thier own so that we know Tom, Dick and Harry from the Bumni Olaye's & Oyato's etc.
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