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Photo courtesy of Marina Wilson.

This Streetwear Collection Shows that Black French Fashion Is On the Rise

We catch up with Cameroon's own Marina Wilson of Black Square to learn more about her collaboration with Beyoncé-approved fashion brand Afrikanista.

During Beyoncé's time in South Africa after performing at the Global Citizen Festival, she celebrated the artistic diversity of the continent by wearing clothes solely from African brands.

In one of her ensembles, she donned a T-shirt from Afrikanista's previous collection. Her stylist Zerina Akers discovered the fashion brand—created by Aissé Ndiaye in 2014—on Instagram and loved it. The brand recently launched a new collection, Bal Poussière X Afrikanista, a collaboration with Marina Wilson, a Cameroon-born, multi-disciplinary artist and now fashion designer who's the mind behind Black Square—a platform promoting black creativity.

We spoke to her about her collection with Afrikanista, her transition into the fashion world and more.


Aude Konan for OkayAfrica: Can you tell us more about the film Bal Poussière, and why was it such an inspiration for you?

Marina Wilson: My African heritage impacted the way I approached the project because I grew up in Cameroon. I didn't have the chance to watch films with characters who look like my family members or whose background and setting looked like the city I was living in. With Aissé, who created the brand Afrikanista, it was really important for us to show how rich African culture is, especially in terms of fashion and cinema.

Bal Poussière is a film directed by French director Henri Duparc and was released in 1989. Shot in Ivory Coast, it shows the daily life of a polygamous family like many others that you can find in the motherland. The film inspired us because it portrayed characters that are rarely seen on screen, mainly housewives who showed their personalities through their nicknames and attire, mainly the "ankara-addicted women" who believe in traditional values and the "dress-addicted women" who are modern.

Photo courtesy of Marina Wilson.

How did you meet Aissé Ndiaye, and how did the collaboration go for you both?

Aissé Ndiaye and I have known each other for 4 years now. We're both part of the Parisian black arts scene. Since we were always bumping into one another at the same events, with her as a designer and I as either as a DJ or working for my media company Black Square, we got to know each other. I suggested that we should work together on this project and this is the result you're seeing now.

Were you involved in the technicalities of creating a fashion brand?

Creating a clothing line is a totally new experience from me. I've always loved fashion—especially streetwear. For 3 years, I've organized a streetwear trade show but it's the first time I am on the other side, as a creator behind the scenes and I find it incredibly inspiring.

What do you want to achieve with the new collections?

With our clothing line, we wanted to show that it is possible to take inspiration from our African cultural heritage, as it is so vast and seldom seen. Our goal was also to show that it is possible for two women of African descent and who are Parisians to work together to embark on a creative journey to contribute to the rise of art inspired by Africa.

Photo courtesy of Marina Wilson.

African fashion is becoming trendy again and there are a handful of new designers now. What do you think of it and how do you want your brand to stand out?

I believe that it is a great thing that so many creatives are inspired by African fashion. The more they are, the better it is. With our line, what makes it so unique is that we want to expand it beyond just the Francophone black scene. We want to do that by showing how various art forms—literature, fashion, and various ideas—can create a world just as inspiring as what English-speaking Africans have done until then.

We have planned to add more clothes to the line, mainly shirts and denim items.

What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?

Be patient in the way you approach your creative process; get a broader knowledge base because you can find inspiration anywhere and try to look for the concept of frugal innovation. You'd be surprised by all the amazing things one can do with very little means.

You're a jack of all trades, what are your next projects?

With my Black Square team, we are working on creating new visual content and events around black creativities. As a solo artist, I'm currently working on a few musical projects that should be dropping in 2019.

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Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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Headdresses 2 (Collaged) by Helina Metaferia, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and PRIZM Art Fair.

Here's What to Expect at This Year's PRIZM Art Fair In Miami

The yearly art fair, now showing at Miami Art Week/Art Basel Miami Beach tackles 'Love In the Time of Hysteria,' with works by artists from across the diaspora.

PRIZM Art Fair is back again for its seventh edition, once again highlighting some of the brightest artists from Africa and the diaspora during Miami Art Week/Art Basel Miami Beach.

This year's exhibit, entitled Love in the Time of Hysteria, features several works curated by William Cordova, Ryan Dennis, Naiomy Guerrero, Oshun Layne as well as PRIZM Art Fair's founder and director Mikhaile Solomon. It includes pieces from 42 international artists, hailing from over 13 different countries, including Barbados, Bahamas, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt, Norway, South Africa, Ghana and the United States.

"Love in the Time of Hysteria illustrates how love, compassion and respect endure in a social milieu riddled with divisive political rhetoric, unprovoked attacks on members of marginalized communities and broad societal malaise as a result of economic inequity," said PRIZM in a press release.

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(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for AFI)

Cynthia Erivo Earns Golden Globe Nomination for 'Harriet'

Check out the full list of 2020 nominees (and the snubs).

Award-winning actress, Cynthia Erivo has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman in Harriet. She's earned a nomination for Best Original Song for 'Stand Up."

She's nominated in the "Best Performance by an Actress In a Motion Picture—Drama" alongside Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Renée Zellwegger and Saoirse Ronan.

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

CNN Names Ethiopian Innovator Freweini Mebrahtu This Year's 'Hero of the Year'

Freweini Mebrahtu designed a reusable sanitary pad to help keep girls in school and has fought to end the cultural stigma around menstruation.

Last night, Ethiopia's Freweini Mebrahtu was been named CNN's "Hero of the Year". The award was in recognition of her work on menstruation and keeping girls in school as well as fighting to end the cultural stigma still attached to menstruation. Mebrahtu was also awarded USD 100 000 to help in expanding her work.

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