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Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Eliana Murargy Is the Trailblazing Mozambican Fashion Brand You Should Know About

We spoke with the designer about her latest collection "Basking In the Osun River," which was the first by a Mozambican designer to show at New York Fashion Week.

Mozambican fashion designer Eliana Murargy has been on a mission to re-imagine luxury clothing in Africa since she first established her eponymous brand in 2011. Her latest collection "Basking in the Osun River," does just that. It debuted at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) last month, making her the first designer from Mozambique to showcase at the renowned fashion event.

Murargy put the myriad African influences in her designs front and center with "Basking in the Osun River"—a name which directly reference the mystical Osun River, which runs from Nigeria to the Atlantic Gulf of Guinea.

The designs themselves, are characterized by ethereal and skillfully tailored garments, designed in solid, earth-tones with feminine silhouettes, inspired by The Aje—a female Yoruba figure believed to hold fierce, cosmic powers as well as the water deity Osun. According to the designer, the collection was created with an "exclusive community of West African tailors."


"The clothing I design reflects an ethereal inner beauty, highlighting the beautiful feminine features all the while remaining simple, soft and confident—a tribute to womanhood" says the designer.

We caught up with her following her debut NYFW runway show to learn more about the inspiration behind the collection, her vision for African designers and luxury clothing on the continent, and how her Mozambican heritage informs her work. Read on for our conversation and check out more looks from Eliana Murargy's Spring/Summer 2020 collection below.

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

How did it feel to make your NYFW debut?

It is an immense accomplishment to be able to participate and introduce my brand, Eliana Murargy, to such a prominent platform, showing the global audience a new meaning of luxury and tailoring, and being the first designer from Mozambique to showcase at NYFW, which hopefully will pave the way for others.

How does your Mozambican heritage show up in your work?

It's inherently part of me, my upbringing, my work ethos, the people part of my team and those I choose to collaborate with from every facet of the brand, I include Mozambican creative talent. But also aesthetically, I am inspired by the vast coastal landscape, the culture, the music, art, the sounds and the colors that are present in the vegetation and in nature. There are always elements, such as the accessories I use which are made by hand in Mozambique, or the color inspiration in the fabrics.

You said that this collection is inspired by the Yoruba water goddess Osun, can you speak more about how that is communicated through your designs?

It is the soul of the collection, the empowered goddess within all of us that stands for creativity, beauty and love. The sweet rivers in which she spreads her cosmic powers, I wanted to reflect the deity in this collection, the figure hugging silhouettes that projects sensuality, but also the textures of the fabrics and the accentuations on the female body.

You seem to be very intentional and specific about the color pallet used in this collection, can you talk more about the creative decision-making behind that?

I tend to work a lot from color and material. I was inspired by the natural elements of air and water—again referencing the goddess Osun, and through it it was a re-birth for me, a coming of age story in which women can be seen as power figures but also as care-takers, and embracing all the qualities and challenges of what this also brings. The color choices were deliberate for all women of different colors, for all the women of the world.

Why do you think it's important for African designers to be represented at major global, fashion events like NYFW?

[It's important because] the fashion industry cannot continue to disregard an entire continent and all its magic and talent, when it has been borrowing and referencing the continent. It is time for us to tell our own stories, in our own way.

***

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

Photo by Gregoire Avenel

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Photo by Abena Boamah.

Photos: Here's What Happened at Daily Paper & Free the Youth's Design Talk for Accra's Young Creatives

Founders of the popular brands discussed all things African streetwear in a conversation facilitated by OkayAfrica and moderator Amarachi Nwosu.

Last week, Amsterdam-based, African-owned streetwear brand Daily Paper and Ghanaian streetwear label Free the Youth held a talk for young creatives at the Mhoseenu design studio in Accra, Ghana.

Moderated by Melanin Unscripted creator Amarachi Nwosu and presented in partnership with OkayAfrica, the design-based conversation explored everything from sustainable practices in manufacturing, to the overall evolution of streetwear globally. The founders of Free the Youth, which was been called Ghana's number one streetwear brand, expanded on how they've been able to build their audience, and shared details about their community-based initiatives.

They event, which took place at the Daily Paper Pop-up Store in Accra last Friday, drew a fashionable and creative-minded crowd ready to partake in a design discussion between West Africa and Europe.

Check out some of the action that took place at the Daily Paper x FYT event below, with photos by Abena Boamah.

Find more upcoming OkayAfrica events here.

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This is the Kenyan actor's first British Vogue cover.

Lupita Nyong'o is British Vogue's February cover star for their "Fashion & Film" issue. This is also the Kenyan actor's first time gracing a British Vogue cover.

"2020 is looking bright," she exclaims on Twitter. "My first British Vogue cover thanks to Edward Enninful."


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University lecturer and activist Doctor Stella Nyanzi (L) reacts in court as she attends a trial to face charges for cyber-harassment and offensives communication, in Kampala, on April 10, 2017. (Photo by GAEL GRILHOT/AFP via Getty Images)

Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

The outspoken activist, who is currently serving a prison sentence for a poem she wrote about the president's mother's vagina, won for her resistance "in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her."

Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic, activist, and vocal critic of President Yoweri Museveni has been awarded the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for freedom of expression, given to writers who "continue to work for freedom of expression in the face of persecution."

Nyanzi is currently serving a 15 month sentence for "cyber harassment" after she published a poem in which she wrote that she wished "the acidic pus flooding Esiteri's (the president's mother) vaginal canal had burn up your unborn fetus. Burn you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda."

According to the director of PEN International, Carles Torner, her unfiltered outspokenness around the issues facing her country is what earned her the award. "For her, writing is a permanent form of resistance in front of a regime that is trying to suppress her," said Torner at the award ceremony.

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Photo: Ben Depp.

Watch Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun's Beautiful Video For 'Noyé'

"Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Yilian Canizares and Paul Beaubrun connect for the serene "Noyé," one of the highlights from Canizares' latest album, Erzulie.

The Cuban singer and Haitian artist are now sharing the new Arnaud Robert-directed music video for the single, which we're premiering here today.

"Noyé is a song that comes from our roots," Yilian Canizares tells OkayAfrica. "Inspired by the energy of love. The same love that kept Africa's legacy alive in the hearts of Haiti and Cuba. We wanted to do a stripped down version of only the essential pieces from a musical point of view. Something raw and beautiful where our souls would be naked."

The striking music video follows Canizares and Beaubrun to the waters of New Orleans, the universal Creole capital, where they sing and float until meeting on the Mississippi River.

"Noyé is a cry of love from children of African descent," says Paul Beaubrun. "Cuba and Haiti come together to share the love and heritage of our deep rooted culture and spirituality."

Watch the new music video for "Noyé" below.

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