Saturday, May 16, 2009

out of africa


One does not need a plane ticket to experience the exotic vibes of the land of Africa anymore, because this season, the fashion world is giving us a taste through clothes, shoes, and images all heavily influenced with an African accent. Perhaps it all started with a trip to the Met's latest "The Model as Muse" exhibit. Masterpieces of many important designers throughout the past decades were displayed, but the most memorable ones to me were the sea-shell beaded dresses and the iconic Safari jacket from Yves Saint Laurent's 1968 African-themed collection. That yellow sea-shell fringed dress in the exhibit is still vivid in my mind, and it most appropriately captured the free-spiritedness of the era when it was made. Fast-forward to spring/ summer 2009, designers drew inspiration from the many different facets of African culture and injected fresh elements to their designs.
There's Suno, a lovely new brand based in New York with production in Kenya, that uses the colorful sarongs from the region (called kanga) and turn them into hip, downtown clothing with one-of-a-kind prints. Then there's Azzedine Alaia, who came out with an amazing collection of African/ Amazonian inspired shoes: some made of exotic skins and little bells, others made of abalone sea shells and straw; they just make you want to dance in them! The latest issue of Vogue Italia also rides the wave with Sasha Pivovarova in a Moroccan themed cover shot by Steven Meisel.
So now, it's time to start hunting for stacks of bangles, harem pants, and maybe even a turban for your first fashion journey to Africa.

Images (clockwise from top left): Suno's fall 09 look book via Refinery 29; my own vintage elephant necklace made of shells; Suno's fall 09 look book; Azzedine Alaia python sandals with bells from Browns; cover story of Vogue Italia May 09 issue, shot by Steven Meisel.

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