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Wallplay Presents NOT x Chris Saunders In NYC

Jenny Lai and Chris Saunder's 'NOT x Chris Saunders' SA fashion/photography collaboration will by showcasing at Wallplay Gallery in NYC.

Words by Toni Oluwatoni Y. Akindele & Alyssa Klein


In January of 2014, New York-based designer Jenny Lai traveled to Johannesburg to collaborate with South African photographer and filmmaker Chris Saunders, the same director behind some of this year's most striking music videos (including Nozinja's "Tsekeleke" and Okmalumkoolkat's recent "Allblackblackkat"). Lai is the founder of womenswear brand NOT, an experimental label that defines itself by its own definition of the word "not"–  "the space around the solid and tangible, the hidden spaces within the folds of the clothing, and the open spaces where you reveal yourself surprisingly," they say. "It negates the solid and tangible in favor of space, imagination, and movement." Together Lai and Saunders set out to showcase "cultural reinvention" through a fashion/photography experiment entitled NOT x Chris Saunders. Moving across Joburg, Orange Farm, Soweto and Cape Town, the collaborators linked with four South African hyper-creatives to creatively interpret Lai's NOT garments. The group included accessories designer Dennis Chuene (who founded Vernac Bags), vintage clothier Dr. Pachanga, menswear designer Floyd Avenue (from the Smarteez in Soweto), and Pantsula dance costumer/puppeteer Macdonald Mfolo. "Each collaborator was chosen for the unique perspective they offered in the South African fashion scene," Lai explained on an Indiegogo page to raise funds to show their work in New York. She writes:

"In each collaboration, I immersed myself completely into the working style and process of my partners, whether it was working from a backyard shack or sourcing from the local upholstery stores. Together we created one-of-a-kind garments: a hat made by a local milliner, the joints of a puppet hand ingeniously created from overlapping recycled water bottles, a reengineered garment from 2nd hand clothing donated from the West."

NOT x Chris Saunders will be on display from September 10th to September 17th at NYC's "global art campaign space" Wallplay in the LES. The exhibition features a selection of re-interpreted NOT garments along with Saunders' images and final cuts documenting the collaboration. Lai and Saunders will be speaking at an artists' talk moderated by Wallplay, Monday, September 15th, at 7:30PM (To attend, RSVP to RSVP@wallplay.com). Visit Another Africa for their exceptional coverage of the project, including interviews with Lai and Saunders, Floyd Avenue, Macdonald Mafolo, Manthe Ribane, Dennis Chuene, and Dr. Pachanga.

>>>Details On NOT x Chris Saunders At Wallplay In NYC (September 10th-17th)

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Image courtesy of Studio 189

Studio 189 Brought 'Heritage' to the Runway During NYFW

Take a look at the sustainable brand's Spring 2020 collection.

Studio 189—the sustainable fashion brand created by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, debuted their Spring 2020 collection during New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

OkayAfrica was in attendance at Spring Studio this past Tuesday for the brand's runway show, which brought out 600 guests from various industries. Amongst those in attendance included Fantasia, Naturi Naughton, Quincy Brown, Opal Tometti, Young Paris, Quincy Brown, Justine Skye, Shaun Ross and many more. The show also featured musical performances "inspired by the continent of Africa" from Jojo Abot and more.

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Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Studio 189's Debut Show Rejected All of NYFW’s Norms In Favor of Inclusivity and Authenticity

The Ghana-based sustainable brand presented their spring/summer 2019 collection—and it was out of this world.

To say that Studio 189 made history this week during the CFDA's official New York Fashion Week calendar would be an understatement. The Ghana and US-based sustainable fashion line, co-founded by Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson, debuted their ready-to-wear spring/summer 2019 collection this week and it was anything but your typical fashion presentation—it was a celebration that hit all of your senses.

Before the audience who jam-packed Style360's space in Midtown delved into the highly anticipated looks, the brand chose to screen a short clip, giving a glimpse of the value chain, which is something fashion brands should be more transparent of with their consumers.

"The context was needed for people to understand the project," Erwiah, who's also Studio 189's co-creative director, tells me, reflecting on the presentation. "It's more than just a fashion show."

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Photo courtesy of CSA Global.

In Conversation with Congolese NBA Player Emmanuel Mudiay: 'I want more African players in the NBA.'

The Utah Jazz player talks about being African in the NBA, supporting basketball in the DRC and how 'everybody knows about Burna Boy'.

Inspired by his basketball-playing older brothers, by second grade, Emmanuel Mudiay already knew that he wanted to play in the American National Basketball Association. Then in 2001 his family, fleeing the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, sought asylum in the United States.

In America, Mudiay saw basketball as a way for him to improve his situation. After impressive high school and college careers, he moved to China to play pro ball. Picked 7th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, the now 23-year-old guard has made a name for himself this season coming off the bench for the Utah Jazz.

Mudiay attests to the sport having changed not only his life but that of his siblings. Basketball gave them all a chance at a good education and the opportunity to dream without conditions. Now he wants to see other talented African players make it too.

We caught up with him to talk about his experience as an African player in the NBA, his hopes for basketball on the African continent and who he and his teammates jam out to in their locker rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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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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