African Babes in Benin

Fashion week has come and gone but the words and images from “Babes in Benin,” the feature article from the latest issue of Pigeons and Peacocks are timeless.

Issue #4 takes a look at “exploitation and excess” and asks: “where is the line to be drawn between inspiration and exploitation” when dealing with African culture, and European appropriation? Inspired by Daniel Laine’s series, “Kings of Africa,” Babes in Benin uses traditional prints, but takes the designs the opposite direction. Rightfully concerned with cultural translation P&P even questions whether it’s detrimental to have their white European stylists depicting African iconography.

“It’s nostalgia as exploitation: exploitation of the past; exploitation of the stereotypes forged in the past, and an exploration of when cultural stereotypes become iconography, and where iconography becomes inspiration, and when inspiration turns to exploitation…it is a cycle of pop regurgitating itself, reappropriating symbols and codes and inappropriately fetishizing and remixing different cultures. “

On the upswing, Natalie Lasance reports from fashion week in Lagos, Nigeria “Africa’s second ever fashion week”, and notes the rich local talent while claiming many Nigerian designers who studied abroad are returning home to “fuse technical excellence with the unique cultural history of Nigerian tribes.” For young designers fashion in Africa is a fresh frontier that also includes social initiatives like female empowerment, voting education, identity empowerment, and the list goes on.

Visionary designers who are “using their success to make a difference” include, Kemmy Solomon, who uses design to celebrate femininity, as well as Autumn Adeigbo, who donates 5% of profits from each dress to Women For Women International. Terence Sambo, who blogs as One Nigerian Boy is behind the campaign, Vote, It’s in Style,” which promotes voting to the youth via fashion and media. Pick up a copy to read the full article including interviews with the models. Enjoy the photo stream!

Comments

  • Le Jeune

    Hi there! Where were this photos taken? I’m in Benin now and would like to take a further look! Many thanks!