Style

Top 11 African Womenswear Designers You Need To Know

We’ve compiled a list of African womenswear designers and brands that stand out to us this year in celebration of African style.

African designers possess an innate awareness of style rooted in culture and tradition. The style aesthetics celebrate multiple ethnicities and nationalities; the garments are vibrant and electric.

Designers adhere strictly to standards of craftsmanship and design. They use textiles and prints to tell stories in an innovative way. They are passionate about displaying what home means to their global consumers.

In celebration of that, we’ve compiled a list of 11 African womenswear designers and brands that stand out to us this year. Take a look below.

1. Jermaine Bleu

Jason Asiedu is a Ghanaian designer whose work celebrates women’s curves and elegance. His garments flow effortlessly. His latest "Evolution" collection is meant to accompany the modern women from the start to end of her day. It is versatile and full of grace and poise. He is certainly a newcomer to watch.

2. Maki Oh

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Nigerian designer Amaka Osakwe’s label Maki Oh is comprised of intricately constructed pieces. She creates sexy clothing while combating what is conventionally deemed beautiful. Her garments so embrace the female physique that they have been worn by Michelle Obama, Lupita N'yongo, Solange Knowles, Leelee Sobieski, Alek Wek, Thandie Newton and Azaelia Banks. She fuses the aesthetics of her home and the West to create things that haven’t been seen in the realm of fashion. She is one of the continent’s most celebrated designers. Her upcoming Spring 2018 collection is sure to be nothing short of awe-inspiring.

3. Wana Sambo

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Nigeria's Wana Sambo produces timeless pieces for African woman like herself. The designer gives her consumers something they can feel sexy and confident in. She yearns for women to celebrate themselves at every stage in their life.

4. Bridget Awosika

Bridget Awosika hails from Lagos by way of Manhattan. Her collections speak to professionals and socialites alike. Her designs make their wearers feel ‘chic.’ They exude modern femininity. They are full of texture, movement, and sophistication.

5. Olori Swim

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Olori Swim was founded in Los Angeles by Nigerian couple Ibrahim Hasan and Dunnie Onasanya- Hasan. The brand celebrates all shapes and sizes of “melanin rich” women by providing them with luxury swimwear. It’s design are rich in color and call to mind royalty.

6. Recho Omondi

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Have you spotted those brightly colored sweatshirts on Issa Rae in Insecure episodes with the word “Niggas” hand stitched on them? Kenyan-American designer Recho Omondi is behind these masterpieces. Her eponymous brand thrives. It is well-constructed and makes it evident she is passionate about color, women and the black experience. Her garments sit upon models who look as unique as the pieces they wear.

7. William Okpo

Darlene and Lizzy Okpo started this brand named after their father in 2010. Their Nigerian parents’ style coupled with American culture serves as inspiration for their clothing. This juxtaposition gives way to an understanding of an immigrant’s sense of style.

8. Tongoro

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Senegalese media maven Sarah Diouf’s ready-to-wear label is based in Dakar and part of her push to keep making major waves in the fashion industry. It combines the care-free way of dressing in Senegal with that of Europeans. The label is comprised of pieces that are both playful and authentic.

9. Rich Factory

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Zambian designer Rina Chunga founded the contemporary label Rich Factory with a love of printed fabrics. In her factory based in Johannesburg, she deconstructs traditional silhouettes in wax print and turns them into unique pieces.

10. Gueras Fatim

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Senegalese-Guinean designer Fatoumata Guirassy tailors and embroiders impeccably. In 2015, she launched her line full of elegance and femininity. Much like the other designers on this list, she draws inspiration from her ancestry.

11. Nyorh Agwe

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Cameroonian designer Nyorh Agwe’s label is bold and eclectic. It celebrates individuality, while exploring the designer’s identity. The brand supports local artisans by being made in her homeland.

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(From left to right) Stéphane Bak and Marc Zinga in 'The Mercy of the Jungle.' Photo courtesy of TIFF.

Congolese Actor Stéphane Bak on His Intense Experience Shooting 'The Mercy of the Jungle' In Uganda

We catch up with the actor after the film made its North American premiere at TIFF.

When actor Stéphane Bak first got the script for The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle), he knew there was one person he had to consult: his father. "My dad did school me about this," he says. While Bak was born and raised in France, his parents had emigrated from what was then Zaire in the 1980s—before the events of the movie, and not exactly in the same area, but close enough to be able to pass on firsthand knowledge of the simmering ethnic tensions that underpin the action.

The story takes place in 1998, just after the outbreak of the Second Congo War—which came hot on the heels of the First Congo War. Two Rwandan soldiers find themselves separated from their company and have to make a harrowing trek through the jungle to link back up with their regiment. Bak plays Private Faustin, the young recruit hunting Hutu rebels to avenge his murdered family, a foil to Marc Zinga's seasoned Sergeant Xavier. As a Congolese militia swarms the area, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell enemies from friends, the two are forced off the road and into the thick vegetation.

Their journey is physically difficult, but the jungle also nurtures them, providing food, water, and shelter. "The title is very explicit in a way," says Bak. It is the human beings they encounter, from rival soldiers and militiamen to the hostile security forces guarding illegal gold mining operations, who bring sudden danger and violence. The challenges are conveyed as much through the actors' physicality as through the minimal dialogue. As for the strain on his face, Bak says it was all real. "To be honest, it was very difficult," he says of the shoot, which took him 25 days. "I had to learn my accent in two weeks." Prior to commencing, there was training with the Ugandan army for realism. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the DRC, the movie itself was shot in Uganda.

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Brazil Has Made Yoruba an Official Language

The language will also be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum in the country, says the Minister of Culture.

Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

WATCH: How Ilê Aiyê Brought Blackness Back to Carnival

Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.

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This EP Blends the Afro-Brazilian Rhythms of Bahia With Bass Music

Get into Telefunksoul and Felipe Pomar's Ré_Con Ba$$ EP.

Brazilian producers Felipe Pomar (of TrapFunk & Alivio) and Telefunksoul come through with a dizzyingly energetic EP in the form of Ré_Con Ba$$.

Telefunksoul, who happens to be one of the main promoters of Bahia Bass music, came up with the concept of exploring the rhythms coming out of Recôncavo of Bahia and showing how they can fit into bass music.

Through the 7-track Ré_Con Ba$$ EP, him and Pomar mold and transform the diverse music of Bahia, fusing its rhythms with afrobeat, future house, deep house and much more.

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