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Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

First Look: Kente Gentlemen’s Latest Collection, ‘Sodade’, is a Vivid Ode to Emotion

Ivorian designer Aristide Loua shares his newest, colorful kente threads with OkayAfrica.

Côte d'Ivoire's own Aristide Loua is the mind behind the brand, Kente Gentlemen. Launched in 2017, the brand's story is one of a young man who fell in love with kente—the traditional material native to the Akan ethnic group. Where kente cloth varies in design and patterns, Loua fittingly draws inspiration from poetry, cultures and colors. Having lived in Côte d'Ivoire, India and all over the United States, Kente Gentlemen is Loua's passion project that encompasses everything he has experienced in his travels.

"In such an interconnected world, Kente Gentlemen is a means to discover, value, celebrate, and foster our diverse sociocultural heritage and identities through fashion, aesthetics, photography and other visual arts," Loua says.


His collections are comprised of homegrown fabrics that are meticulously cut and sewn. There's a communal effort as hand-weavers, tailors, artisans and vendors work together seamlessly. Sodade, his latest Autumn/Winter 18-19 collection, forms a relationship between colors and emotions. "Each color is an emotion. Blue represents hope. Pink—romance. Yellow—happiness," he explains. "And the dark color speaks for sorrow, or despair." He examines the volatility of his emotions: "Sometimes I feel a bit of romance...other times, I feel hope for a bright future. I rejoice in happiness, even when my soul drowns in an ocean of sorrow."

The suit jackets, though dark, are distinguishable by flaps of bright colors for pockets and lining as a means of normalizing and accepting every emotion as it comes. Loua combats a society that attempts to dictate how we should feel, at any given time. He also affirms, "When you have the means or the luxury to wear exactly what you are and what you want in your life, your clothes become the reflection, the outlet of your being, of your personality, of your style, of your dreams and most certainly of your emotions."

Check out our favorite shots from Kente Gentleman's lookbook for Sodade below.

Photo by Alexandre Tako, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Alexandre Tako, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Photo by Joshua Kissi, courtesy of Kente Gentlemen.

Credits

Photography: Joshua Kissi + Alexandre Tako

Model: Nana Kwasi Wiafe

Art Direction/Styling: Aristide Loua

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Photo by Polly Irungu

Photos: A Night of ‘Cocoa and Color’ at Okay Space for Tony’s Chocolonely and Joshua Kissi’s ‘Reframed’ Exhibition

The exhibition, currently showing at Okay Space Gallery, advocates for fair practices in the West African chocolate industry.

What happened when cocoa hero Tony's Chocolonely and creative wonder kid Joshua Kissi rolled up to the Okay Space on the same night? Chocolate-y magic and sweet enlightenment. The two entities have been working together on a project called REFRAMED: Cocoa and Color aimed at shifting the perspective on the West African cocoa farmers who make Chocolonely's delectable bars.

The project kicked off its first US exhibition with us at the Okay Space Gallery in early October, where brightly colored chocolate bars of all sizes covered the tables as attendees had their pick of a variety of Tony Chocolonely's chocolate. Anywhere you looked, there was chocolate and smiles. The only time folks stopped munching on chocolate was to take a bite of the fantastic cuisine—jollof rice, fried plantains and beef skewers—from Gold Coast Catering and plantain ice cream from Kelewele NYC. The room was packed with a diverse and wonderful crowd, excited to interact with Kissi's work and curious about learning how the chocolate brand was focused on empowering Africans and African economies. DJ GFlamee created the perfect atmosphere with tunes that highlighted the region and made a Thursday feel more like a Friday.

The highlight of the night, however, was a live Q&A session between Joshua Kissi and Dena White, Tony Chocolonely's head of marketing for the US. Kissi created the concept and took photos of the people in Ghana and the Ivory Coast working to create the chocolate the world adores. Together, they discussed the methods and importance of Tony Chololonely's fight to end slave labor in the cocoa industry. It was illuminating to have the session with the faces of those being honored surrounding us, looking on, being included in something that has long been swept under the rug.

While the chocolate has all been gobbled up, Kissi's striking photos will stay on display at the gallery until October 31st.

Check out some of the action from the event below, with photos by Polly Irungu.

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(Photo Courtesy of Awesome Tapes From Africa)

Antoinette Konan, Vanguard of Ivorian Music, Gets a Comeback

The singer and percussionist is getting a reissue via Awesome Tapes from Africa.

Prepare your ears and ready the dance floor for the return of the "Queen of the Ahoka." Awesome Tapes from Africa (ATFA) is reissuing the queen Antoinette Konan's eponymous 1986 album in the coming weeks. For music aficionados, crate diggers and those new to Konan's music alike—this is excellent news.

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Video: Mr Eazi On How He's Helping Young African Artists Grow

In 'Moments With: Mr Eazi,' the buzzing Nigerian star tells us about Banku music, being a serial entrepreneur, and how he's been pushing young African artists through his emPawa initiative.

Mr Eazi stopped by our offices in New York City during a packed round of promo around his new emPawa platform.

The Nigerian star sat down with OkayAfrica and spoke in-depth about his early days, how his friends all pooled money to help him get started, how his famous 'hat' look came about, the blend of Ghanaian & Nigerian sounds that make up Banku music and more recent things like collaboration with J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Watch our Moments With video with Mr Eazi below.

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Asa 'Lucid' cover.

The 14 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Asa, Patoranking x Busiswa, $pacely, Vagabon, Shane Eagle and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music 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.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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