Style
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

popular
Photo courtesy of MASS Design Group.

The African Design Center is Birthing a New Generation of African Architects and Designers

In this interview, Rwandan architect and designer, Christian Benimana, says that the 'African city' does not exist and suggests that the continent look to urbanizing without necessarily creating cities.

When Christian Benimana left Rwanda to study architecture in China in the early 2000s, he inadvertently bore witness to one of the world's biggest building booms. During that time, China underwent one of the most rapid urbanization in the history of the earth. But behind the glittering skyscrapers and brand new urban neighborhoods, says Benimana, in a TED Talk from last year, is a much darker story. "Behind these facades was the exploitation of huge numbers of migrant workers and the massive displacement of thousands of people that made these projects possible. As countries in Africa undergo massive rates of urbanization, it's these lessons in city building from his time in China that come to the front.

Benimana is the principal at MASS Design Group in Rwanda, a firm that has carried out architectural projects in Rwanda and broader Africa over the past 10 years. He has become the lead in implementing the African Design Center.

The African Design Center, the project-based apprenticeship established by the MASS Design Group, is committed to a more sustainable model of architecture. The ultimate goal is to begin a movement of young and inspired people who will completely upend what we have come to know as conventional architecture. By incubating talent and redesigning curriculums, the Africa Design Center is attempting to envision what development in Africa needs to start looking like outside of the Western conceptions of development being imposed on the continent. Schools are a particular focus for the center as it challenges what schools should look like and how their architecture goes hand-in-hand with the education African children receive.

We caught up with Benimana to talk more about the African Design Center's ambitious vision and his own personal views on the state of cities on the continent right now.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

New Jidenna Merch for the '85 to Africa' Tour Drops Today Only at the Okay Shop

Jidenna tells us why he partnered with OkayAfrica to design his official tour T-shirt and what style does to a person's psychology.

When Jidenna asked OkayAfrica to design official merch for the ongoing "85 to Africa" tour, we had to create clothing suitable for the Classic Man himself. The result is a collection reflecting the ambitious mission of his new album—to forge a universal African identity across the diaspora. We reached out to Jidenna, on the road between gigs, to hear about the tour and to find out more about the different pieces in the collection.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Left: Zakes Mda (Still from YouTube), Center: Basetsana Kumalo (Still from YouTube), Right: Mona Eltahawy (Andrew Toth/FilmMagic for Getty Images)

South Africa's Abantu Book Festival Announces This Year's Line-up of Speakers

Zakes Mda, Basetsana Kumalo, Mona Eltahawy, Chris Abani and more will feature at the country's biggest book festival for Black readers and writers.

Abantu Book Festival, South Africa's biggest book festival for Black readers and writers, is back for this year's installment of the cultural event. They've recently announced their exciting line-up of guest speakers and South Africans are here for it. Frankly, so are we.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Still from Dave's NPR' Tiny Desk Concert Video.

Watch Dave's Meditative 'Tiny Desk Concert'

The British-Nigerian rapper delivers stripped-down versions of some of his most personal tracks for NPR's Tiny Desk series.

Mercury Prize-winning rapper Dave is one of the latest artists to appear of NPR's Tiny Desk series.

The British-Nigerian hitmaker, opens his set with his hit Burna Boy-assisted track "Location," joined by vocalist Tashera Robertson. We see Dave showcasing his singing voice as well as he and Robertson step in for Burna Boy's parts.

Next he performs "Black," which he says is about the Black-British experience. "Everyone's experience with being black is different, but this Is my take," he says.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.