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THE UNDERESTIMATED ARTS OF AFRIASIA
By SABRINA EIYA MAKEIN
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 SABRINA EIYA MAKEIN
All rights reserved.
African Haute Couture: History is influential and Fashion is transformational
Internationally known as the Grand Boubou; this fabric has, without a doubt, surfaced the fashion world and is bound to leave a permanent impact on the minds of fashionistas, as well as the minds of the general crowd. Although the Boubou is mostly popular in West Africa, you can also find similar garments in the Northern African community and in the Middle East while the African attire is usually decorated with complex embroidery leading to a slightly different look.
From a distance, the garment's appearance is rather "large," although the fact of the matter is: there is more than just one layer of clothing underneath the dressed individual. The garment consists of three pieces of clothing, which are: a long sleeved shirt; 'tie-up' trousers; and a rather wide open-stitched gown that overlaps the outfit. These three pieces usually don't vary in color, and the traditional (silk) fabric that is used to produce the garment is now being replaced with cotton and synthetic fabrics due to Islamic restrictions.
When wearing the Boubou, one must be familiar with its 'set etiquette:' which is to refrain (yourself) from impurity. The fact that the fabric can touch the dirty grounds can make you appear as a Najis. A Najis is a person who is unclean, or something that can be unclean when in contact with another Najis. To avoid this ridicule, one must either fold the open sleeves of the Boubou over their shoulders, or use their hand to wrap each side over the other (which will then narrow the gowns space around the ankle).
The Grand Boubou is usually seen as an Islamic symbol although it is now worn by certain Christians in other parts of Africa, as well as the African people who reside in the Western world (the African diaspora). This garment can be worn on special occasions such as: the Islamic Eid festivals; funerals; weddings and even during the Friday Prayer at the Mosque.
Is the Boubou specifically labeled under male Couture category? Not quite. Women in Western Africa tend to wear a similar garment, although it may be worn differently and the names may vary a tad bit; names such as: M'boubou or Kaftan. This garment can mostly be found in Guinea, Senegal, Mali and Gambia. Speaking of names, there are other various titles for the Boubou. These are: Agbada, Babban Riga, K'sa, and the English term: Gown.
Every ensemble must consist of an accessory, and along with the Boubou comes the Aso Oke Hat. The top of this hat slouches to one side and rests on the ear (quite similar to the French beret). The Aso Oke is made of hand woven (African) fabric and was originated in Nigeria and is worn by most, if not all, African men.
South Africa is famous for being a well-developed African country and a constant magnet for tourists. However, between the lines of tourism and development lies Fashion. It never used to be, as evident as today; that South Africa conceived of such vibrant and diverse couture, but this was mainly because we focused on the attractions within the cities that this country had and still has to offer.
One of the beauties that consist within the South African Fashion is the: Langa Lapu fabric. The material is painted with 'light sensitive dye,' and is then layered with leaves, grass or seeds. Afterwards, the sun is left to dry off the leaf; or whichever element of nature that's used to create the pattern. Inevitably; the element is removed only to reveal a captivating pattern. However, because substances of nature are used to produce Langa Lapu fabrics; this makes the process of its productivity a bit more complex, which then leads to the independent appearance of the pieces of Langa Lapu. The variety of colors and shapes, of this fabric, permit you to understand that true fashion isn't something usual but rather something that should always lead to a jaw-dropping scenario whenever it's produced and introduced somewhere.
Another exquisite South African fabric is the: Shwe Shwe. It's also known as the "Blaudruk." Discharge paste is used to create the white patterns on the fabric which also appear to be delicate and unique. Although this fabric was originally conceived in England; it is now being produced, or printed if you will, in Da Gama Textiles (a South African company).
Differentiating between the English pattern and South African one is quite simple as special trademarks are used to clarify the region in which they're produced. 'The Three Cats Logo,' is used for the original English pattern, and the 'Three Leopards' stamp is used to determine the South African design.
Shwe Shwe can consist of three 'traditional' colors: Chocolate brown, indigo blue (also used on the catwalk) and red. Nowadays; a touch of gold can be used to emphasize the beauty of the indigo blue and brown color(s). This fabric can then be used for accessories, clothing, furnishings, and also as a cover for your books and/or boxes. Furthermore; cotton, leather (of various animals and synthetic raw materials), vegetable fibres, wool and mohair are other substances that are produced in South Africa. Along with this comes the process of weaving, tufting, knitting, and spinning; all of which are seen as services offered by the South African market, and all of which have helped, if not maintained, the (continuous) growth in today's South African textile—world—and fashion of course.
Gratitude can be expressed to the founder of Langa Lapu: Pru Bolus. And because of her, we are now able to see these designs on clothing, accessories, furnishing, and on the catwalk.
Mikuti Jewelry, by Erika Freund, has been showcased in the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week as well as other Fashion events. These detailed African designs come in different shapes, colors dimensions and eye catching prices.
Nineteen-ninety-five: A year in which this exquisitely long limbed South Sudanese refugee, Alek Wek, emerged from the shopping-streets of England to the intimidating yet ferocious catwalks that Europe had and still has to offer. Who knew that a Southern expatriate would capture and maintain the spotlight within a competitive industry, and inspire minds throughout the world? Alek has proven to be worthy of gracing covers and pages of fashion magazines; wearing designer clothing and strutting the catwalk. Along with that, she has proven to everyone, including aspiring Sudanese models, that "anything is possible." Furthermore, let's put into consideration the "Model of the year" award that she received by MTV in 1997.
With that flawless skin; short but appealing hair; deliciously mind-titillating accent and long legs; it's no wonder that Alek is to be seen everywhere BUT Mars. Even then, I bet space-beings wouldn't mind broadcasting this talented human. I am yet to hear someone label her as "unappealing" and I'm (honestly) proud to share the aspect of the things we have in common, which is: our continent of birth. I said it, I wrote it and I meant it—so take it.
Although Ms. Wek struggled before her final exit from the blood-thirsty War of South Sudan, she hasn't forgotten her roots due to the fact that she's the ambassador of "Doctors Without borders" in Sudan; a missionary at the "World Vision" campaign (where they fight against AIDS); and is a member of the "U.S. Committee for Refugees' Advisory Council." She also helps raise awareness about the situation in Sudan ... a Super model, indeed.
Somewhere between fear and hope lies the destiny that each of us must encounter, and Alek still has the privilege to stretch her horizon, and perhaps create a new beginning as a successful writer (and maybe collaborate with me someday, if I'm loved by luck). Although Alek is famously known as a supermodel, she has appeared in feature films, music-videos, television-shows, and partakes in the campaigns listed above. Alongside all of that, she has written a published autobiography on her life as a Sudanese Refugee turned Supermodel. Additionally, this divine and resilient woman also designs bags (Wek 1933); those of which I'm yet to purchase.
Alek Wek, you inspire me to be a better and stronger woman than I was yesterday, and although one would think that a 5'11 Supermodel would probably feel superior to all, somewhere in our hearts we know that Alek has more dignity and integrity than that other someone. Why? Because it takes a compassionate soul and a heart that's at the capacity of a football field, to help the less fortunate and yet still make time for you—wonderful and beautiful you.
"Allah maaki, ya Alek."
East Africa is yet to be fully acknowledged for the beauty that surrounds it and the intelligent minds that maintain the exquisite and exceptional Arts that serve as an advantage to Fashion. One of these beauties happens to be: Liya Kebede; an Ethiopian Supermodel who also manages certain areas of campaigns including being an ambassador for projects aiming to decrease obstacles that seem to prevent Africa from encountering eternal peace. One of these campaigns is: the Liya Kebede Foundation. One mission here is to decrease, if not prevent, maternal and newborn child mortality in Ethiopia. This foundation also provides financial support and substances for medical and technological programs.
Before and during her global movement, Liya has walked for Tom Ford and various other designers who possess an explicit and respectable reputation for their creations. Other than Fashion shows, Liya has appeared in many and diverse fashion magazines including Vogue, and she was given the title: "World's eleventh top earning Supermodel" out of twelve Supermodels, by Forbes in 2009. Kebede has also been featured in various films (one of which is Desert flower) and has launched a clothing line called Lemlem with the objective to maintain traditional weaving in Ethiopia as well as to offer work to local artists.
Liya Kebede and Alek Wek both also possess an aspiration that falls under the creative and inspirational Art category: Writing. Kebede writes for The Huffington Post so as to spread the word regarding maternal and child health, and her work has also been featured in Vogue magazine.
ON THE LOOK-OUT
Name: Flaviana Matata
Measurements: 32-23.5-34.5 in
Accomplishments: Flaviana is a model and a beauty pageant contestant (who has also won Miss Universe Tanzania in 2007 prior to representing her country in Miss Universe and holding 6th place). She has modeled for Sherri Hill and had also won the Model of the Year award that was given to her by Arise Magazine; she's been featured in ID magazine (as well as other glossy magazines.) Furthermore, Flaviana has walked in the designs of Mustafa HasanAli, Vivienne Westwood and the likes. Matata has also been featured in the film tribute for Alexander McQueen as well as the Top Shop Spring Collection (ad campaign) in 2011.
Where she is now: Busy with Flaviana Matata Foundation; giving to the less fortunate, and being a fabulous model based in New York and Europe—supermodel, hello? *wink*
Technique: Tye-dyeing & embroidery (small mirrors)
Technique: None. Shawl tied around the waist (use of any fabric)
Madagascar fruits extractions
Technique: Dye (extracted from berries and natural sources)
Technique: Two pieces of blue/purple cloth.
One is wrapped around the waist and the other over the chest.
(Nowadays women wear floral prints.)
Nduka Obaigbena, the founder of Arise, has surely blessed the African Nation (and African diaspora) with this unique, fabulous, intriguing and glossy magazine that has been featured in various events such as: The New York Fashion Week and Africa Fashion Week. Although Arise was launched in 2008, it won Launch of The Year Award at the APA International Customer Publishing Awards in 2009. And it has continued to attract various minds with its divine and ultimate understanding of the World.
Arise covers almost everything in Fashion; Music; Film and Politics, and this of course makes it what it is today: a triumph in itself. Within the magazine, you'll find interviews with models, musicians, actors and even Prime Ministers; all of whom have shared their unique experiences with Arise Magazine. Although Arise is committed to accentuating the talents of African Artists, the magazine also shares the important aspects within the minds of political persons such as Tony Blair.
Women and men who share mutual interests in cultural events are bound to invest in this magazine—as it surely is worthy of their hard earned cash. And although it's known that more women purchase this magazine, it doesn't necessarily mean that fewer men are attracted to the concept of this glossy.
Who knew that Fashion designing and a Masters in Finance and Management could ever co-exist in an industry where a glamorous connection is (practically) second to an exquisite appearance? Well: Nigerian designer, Deola Sagoe, has proven to those within the industry of Haute Couture that brains, as well as style, can definitely transform the Fashion world into an extraordinary place filled with intellect and divine appearances.
With her diverse and magnificently transparent art, Sagoe has managed to bless the runway of Cape Town Fashion Week with her creations; New York Fashion Week with her presence and had won the MNET/Anglo Gold African designs 2000 awards nominated by Andre Leon Tally (amazing right?) ... Continuously marinating our minds with exquisite and influential work.
Sagoe's constant change in hairstyles also permits me to believe that she's a woman of sophistication as well as an individual who is tolerant of various and alternative styles. Perhaps her inspirations and motivation comes from her three beautiful children, but we'll remain quite oblivious to that. The only thing we'll know is that: Her work is here to stay, and her intentions will continue to change our minds—to the better, of course.
Furthermore, she currently represents her homeland, Nigeria; in a (newly founded) International campaign established by the UNWFP (United Nations World Food Program) titled, Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food; which took off in Nigeria in April 2006 and in Ghana. The main objective of the campaign is: to decrease the amount of the unfortunate and hungry people by raising money. Positive change is accompanied by a large heart—that of which Deola Sagoe surely possesses.
Haute Creations for females by a masculine mind can sometimes be misinterpreted and underestimated. It is only when we encounter those creations that we truly appreciate the master mind behind them: Mustafa Hasanali is an inspired and distinguished Tanzanian (Haute Couture) designer who certainly deserves an extra pinch of recognition whilst in the Fashion industry spotlight. Hasanali's young and fresh style has been featured in various countries as well as Fashion Weeks in Cape Town and Kenya.
Beadings; exquisite colors; well-fitted and flowing garments are words that can best describe the art of Hasanali. His understanding of the mind and body of a woman only lead me to believe that his designs are soon to reach the heights of the mode skyscraper where fashion is more than just 'clothing' and where one is given opportunities that may last a lifetime.
The industry is in dire need of fresh minds and unique minds so then this constant need of having to 'overlap' ones idea with an existing concept can just come to a halt. We've seen that idea already; show us something unprecedented that will leave us at awe. We want originality and we want it now.
With all the creative minds in Africa and Asia, there's bound to be more (designer) names to be delivered to us—males and females. But the only question that may wander our minds is: When?
Contrary to my words of Fashion, Mustafa Hasanali is known to be a qualified doctor. Now, I haven't seen the miracles that he may have performed, but research leaves me with the hypothesis that: If a man can conceive of such fine, delicate and supreme art that requires patience and discipline; then his work within the medical industry must be astonishing and fulfilling to his patients, and to himself.
"Effortlessly Chic:" The prime definition of Christie Brown; a current extravagant label by Ghanaian designer, Aisha Obuobi, that caters to women who seek their 'inner Afrique' as well as women who feel the need to wear vibrant and intellectually formed garments. Christie Brown has been publicized in: New York, Paris and South Africa—just to list a few. These events have swung open the gates to success for Obuobi, and have left her name stained on the mouths of international and national fashionistas, (and non-fashionistas).
The loud and lavish accessories and jewelry of Obuobi are unforgettable: they simply leave your hands reaching to touch them, and your head shaking in disbelief—I mean it. These designs will, undeniably, grace the necks as well as the silhouette of a woman, and will gradually exhale the Goddess within you.
Excerpted from THE UNDERESTIMATED ARTS OF AFRIASIA by SABRINA EIYA MAKEIN. Copyright © 2014 SABRINA EIYA MAKEIN. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1: Africa, 14,
Chapter 2: Asia, 45,
Chapter 3: Fashion-extra, 75,
Chapter 4: Cultural Minds, 106,
Chapter 5: Cultural emphasis, 118,
Chapter 6: Gratitude & Appreciation, 145,