Popular

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.




News Brief
Photo: Single cover art courtesy of Emerald East

Rema Welcomes 2021 With New Single 'Bounce'

The Don Jazzy produced track reminds us of why the Nigerian singer-songwriter is topping charts.

Nigerian golden boy Rema took his time on deciding how to start of 2021—and we're glad he did.

The afropop hitmaker is out with his first project of the year, "Bounce", after stunning fans with word of an upcoming album, and the cooks in this kitchen have not disappointed.

Keeping it in the Mavin Records family, legendary producer Don Jazzy sprinkles his magic on the track, while undoubtedly motivating the young singer-songwriter to be his best self. And with this track being like nothing we've heard from Rema before, one could say Jazzy succeeded. "Bounce", fast-paced and fierce, is a love song dedicated to bewitchingly beautiful and blessed bottoms. The candid declaration and hip shaking beat are a force duo and we can't help but love it.

Of the single and collaboration with head honcho Don Jazzy, Rema says, "This record was inspired by the luscious and magnificent body of the African woman. Furthermore, I'm really excited about this tune because it's my first single with the legendary Don Jazzy."

Honestly, when you start the year off with a banger, you get to make songs about butts.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo courtesy of Mariama Diallo

Interview: Sincerely Ria Is Giving Guinean Fashion Its Flowers

And designer Mariama Diallo's NYFW debut celebrates the vibrancy and uniqueness of Guinea and its Fulani culture.

Guinea-born supermodel, actress, and activist Mariama Diallo is a face you've likely seen all over social media.

With modelling campaigns with the likes of Savage x Fenty by Rihanna, Kim Kardashian's KKW Beauty, and features in Vogue, Marie Claire, NYLON magazines, the model is commanding her space in the industry and making her way centerstage. And, Mariama's strong online presence and following has certainly made her a popular member of the global village too.

With the aforementioned achievements under her belt, the 28-year-old supermodel presented herself as an eager and excited talent within the fashion industry. Now, Mariama's talents and ambitions have attracted her to a role behind the scenes. And showing the power of intention, the role has already taken her to places she only dreamed of prior.

Debuting as the fashion designer of self-financed fashion line Sincerely Ria at this year's New York Fashion Week is but a peek into what the model has to show of herself and share with the world.

The new collection, The Oshun, celebrates not only female beauty and the many ways that it manifests itself but also the magic of womanhood. Named after Oshun, the African goddess of femininity, fertility, beauty, and love, the collection is wrapped within the warmth and divinity of its namesake. The brand follows an ethos of inclusivity, community, and the power behind being beautiful because you have decided to be. Challenging the notion that beauty is always to be accompanied by pain, Mariama and Sincerely Ria are celebrating the rejection of beauty and body standards and expectations.

The Oshun line is a nod to the opulence of Mariama's African heritage and Guinea's Fulani culture, with special attention to the use of brilliant colors, exciting designs, and stunning silhouettes. Motivated to be seen and to captivate, the emphasis on Black beauty within the clothing is certainly translated beautifully, however, stylistically available to all. Uniqueness is welcomed and encouraged. And like Mariama says herself, "You deserve to celebrate yourself unapologetically."

The line debuted at New York Fashion Week, very appropriately, on Valentine's Day of this year and love certainly was the theme. Already boasting a following of over 8,000, the brand's instagram account has shown nothing short of praise and excitement for what we've seen from Mariama, and for what's to come.

We spoke with the Guinean supermodel about the journey to Fashion Week and her love for and emphasis on community and shared experiences.

Keep reading... Show less
(Youtube)

The 5 Best East African Songs of the Month (February)

Featuring Rayvanny, Siverstone Barz x Victoria Kimani, Spice Diana x Fik Fameica, and more.

The month of love featured an array of incredible releases from East Africa's pop royalty as well as promising newcomers.

Follow our East African Grooves playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Focalistic Shares Visuals For ‘Ke Star (Remix)’ Featuring Vigro Deep and Davido

Watch the music video for 'Ke Star (Remix)' by Focalistic, Vigro Deep and Davido.