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Is Dior's New Collection an Example of How Luxury Brands Should Incorporate 'African-Inspired' Designs?

Some are crediting Dior for "doing their homework" while others aren't quite as convinced.

Last Sunday, luxury French brand Dior unveiled its latest collection Cruise 2020, which fully incorporates West African wax print. They unveiled the collection during their first ever "destination show" on the continent—as the New York Times describes it—which saw the brand flying out several celebrities, including Lupita Nyong'o for a fully-branded fashion experience in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Naturally, questions around the creation of the collection and the appropriation of African styles began to arise.

Was this yet another case of a major fashion house ripping off African designs without involving actual Africans? Will these "creations" be sold for exorbitant prices without benefiting its originators? We've seen this happen with countless fashion labels in the past, including Stella McCartney, which faced immense backlash back in 2017 for ripping off styles that our "aunties had been wearing for years," as well as brands like Marc Jacobs, Valentino and Louis Vuitton—just to name a few.


Dior also faced backlash when they posted about the line on Instagram ahead of the show, calling Morocco the "leading country for fashion in Africa," according to a post from Nigerian-Chinese-Thai model Adesuwa Aighewi who walked the show. As the supermodel shared in an Instagram post, she immediately had a meeting with the label's Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, to discuss the issue, and she was met with a positive response.

"Honestly it felt really great about speaking up to just ask the simple questions. I couldn't walk a show where multiple Africans had voiced discontent," she wrote. "After our talk, Dior took down the original caption and made sure the conversation was about the preservation of fashion techniques that are being lost was the focus, artisans who need proper recognition for their craft and the need for a conversation between each other."

She added that the line has consulted African brands, like the UK-based gele expert Daniella Keji Osemadewa Ajayi to learn about the history of traditional garb during the line's creation.

"Discussions are critical to understand and move towards a positive future where there are less barriers and encourage an Africa where the artisans are properly treated and valued as they are in the West," she added.

It's always fair to demand transparency from big brands on matters of cultural exchange. As Vanessa Friedman wrote in The New York Times article "It is always dangerous for a European luxury brand to parachute into a continent with a colonial history," and with the fashion world's reputation of stealing from Africa, it's understandable that folks would be skeptical about any line from a Western brand claiming to be "African inspired."

Nonetheless, some online are crediting Dior for "doing their homework" while others stand by accusations of appropriation—proving once again that matters of cultural exchange and ownership are never easily black and white.




Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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Music
(Youtube)

The 5 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Fireboy DML, Juls, Adekunle Gold and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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Film
Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty.

Michaela Coel Joins the 'Black Panther' Sequel Cast

The upcoming film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is shaping up.

The sequel to the Oscar-winning Black Panther is only due to debut in July of 2022, but the production is well on its way.

The latest news out of the camp is that Michaela Coel, of I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum fame, has officially joined the cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Her character details are still under wraps but according to Variety, Coel has already joined director Ryan Coogler at Atlanta's Pinewood Studios, where production started in late June.

Coel joins original cast members Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong'o, Florence Kasumba, and Angela Bassett all reprising their roles. Following the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, Marvel reportedly chose not to recast the role of T'Challa.

Read: How Michaela Coel's 'I May Destroy You' Makes Space For Black Creators

"It's clearly very emotional without Chad," Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige mentions. "But everyone is also very excited to bring the world of Wakanda back to the public and back to the fans. We're going to do it in a way that would make Chad proud."

Michaela Coel's highly-lauded 2020 series I May Destroy You — which she wrote, directed, produced and stared in — received four Emmy nominations.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled for wide release on July 8, 2022.

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Meet Duro Arts, the Man Behind Your Favorite Afrobeats Album Covers

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