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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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Image courtesy of Riveriswild

#BuyBlack: The 8 Black-Owned Brands To Shop For On Black Friday

It's that time of year again, here is OkayAfrica's 2019 gift guide for you to #BuyBlack this Friday.

You know we're near the end of 2019 once the holiday season comes back around. Thanksgiving is upon us and the bargain shopping and gift-giving is set to commence thereafter. While this American "holiday" being questionable in of itself, Black Friday is a prime occasion to highlight, support and spend exclusively with black-owned businesses.

Just like we mentioned last year, let's keep the 'for us, by us' energy going. Even beyond the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, tap into the businesses that continue to contribute to wealth-building, development and employment in Black communities around the world.

Here is OkayAfrica's curated shortlist of black-owned brands to take note of this Black Friday, including some standout home decor, fashion, skincare and beauty brands you should know.

Take a look below.

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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.

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Image courtesy of La Sunday.

Photos: How La Sunday Became Abidjan's Favorite Party

Faced with a lack of party options, a group of friends in Côte d'Ivoire sought to revolutionize the way their city turns up.

The opening line of DJ Arafat's hit song "Maman Sery" plays and the people on stage scream it as loudly as the crowd facing them below. Lighted phones are up in the air. Where some strangers embrace one another, others clutch their chests. The setting? A garden in Abidjan's commune of Cocody on a Sunday night.

Sundays in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire had always been reserved for beach trips and family time. All of this changed dramatically in December of 2018 when Fayçal Lazraq, Lionel Obam, Aurore Aoussi, Charles Tanoh-Boutchoue, and Aziz Doumbia, better known as Bain de Foule Creative Studio created La Sunday and it took Abidan by storm.

According to Charles Tanoh-Boutchoue, co-founder of La Sunday, "The idea was to create an alternative event for fun amongst friends." The differentiating factor here was these "friends" weren't just anyone; they were trendsetters at the epicenter of Abidjan's bustling creative scene. Shares from these creatives were instrumental in creating the engagement surrounding La Sunday and its subsequent expansion.

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Still from Burna Boy's Tiny Desk concert video via NPR.

Watch Burna Boy's Mellowed-Out 'Tiny Desk' Concert

Watch the 'African Giant' run through some of his hits like 'Gbona,' 'Ye' and more for NPR's Tiny Desk concert series.

Burna Boy is the latest artist to grace NPR's famous Tiny Desk.

The Nigerian "afrofusion" star took to the set for a mellowed out performance of four of his biggest tracks. Getting straight to business, the artist opened his set with a toned down rendition of his single "Gbona" before heading into the socially-aware "Wetin Man Go Do." It's much calmer of a performance than we're used to seeing from the artist.

Next he performs a funky version of "Dangote," before rounding his set out with his magnum opus of sorts "Ye." He's backed by the band The Outsiders and vocalist Christina Matovu throughout.

Burna Boy has had a stellar year, releasing his seminal album African Giant, performing at Coachella and winning several awards—including 'Best African Act' at the BET Awards—in the process.

Check out his full Tiny Desk performance below, and revisit a recent Tiny Desk performance from British-Nigerian rapper Dave from last week and check out Burna Boy's okay acoustics performance of 'Anybody' from August.

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