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Prêt-À-Poundo: Nigeria In The Fashion Spotlight

Exploring the rise of Nigerian fashion in the global fashion world. Nigerian fashion designers are on the map.


*Zizi Cardow Designs

Nigerian fashion designers are in the spotlight. Africa follows fashion trends and the spotlight is on continuing improvement in the fast-moving and highly competitive fashion industry. The phenomenon is so pervasive and innovative that it's nearly impossible to describe African style. Anthropology can contribute to our better understanding of our history but shouldn't be a benchmark in visualizing Africa and African fashion today. "Africa has always been used as a reference point, but not as a valued source of serious fashion" Nigerian designer Duru Olowu.

*Duru Olowu Design

That time is over. African fashion is not only about fabric, it's beyond stereotypes and preconceived ideas. We're witnessing the emergence of African fashion designers and African-inspired fashion designers all over the continent and the world. Vanity Fair recently wrote about Nigerian fashion, they made a resounding statement that African fashion is in constant evolution and that Nigeria has cultivated a high profile image amongst others African countries. Nigeria holds a prominent position in creativity, innovation and talent. Amisha Hathiramani said: "Sometimes I think that the constant search for beauty of Nigerians is the way to counter some bad things that are surrounding them." Despite a certain lack of structure in its political environment, Nigeria has strong potential and is clearly one of the African countries which stands out in the fashion field.

*Iconic Invanity for Her and Kabuti for him              *House of Silk

Over the years, many African icons have proved to be their talent and dedication. Duro Olowu, Deola Sagoe, Ohimai Atafo (of Mai Atafo), Ade Bakare, Lisa Folawiyo (of Jewel by Lisa), Soares Anthony, Nkowo Onwuka (of Nkowo), Frank Oshodi, Folake Coker (of Tiffany Amber), Orie Omatsola(of Ré Bahia), Zizi Cardow, Anita Quansah, Iconic Invanity, Buki Abib, Jess Stephanie, Tsemaye Binitie, Samantha Cole London, Bridget Awosika, Kinabuti, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Odio Mimonet, House of Silk, Amaka Osakwe (of Maki-Oh), Bunmi Olaye (Bunmi Koko), Emeka Alams, Ituen Basi, among many others.

*Tiffany Amber Designs

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Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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