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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."


Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Ghanaian otherworldly artist Jojo Abot then graced the runway for a libation of a performance to honor those who came before us. Erwiah notes the importance to acknowledge and venerate our ancestors, as she constantly feels and sees Studio 189's accomplishments thus far being guided by something that makes the impossible, possible.

Bright lights shined on models of all sizes, ages, abilities, genders and stages of life strutted down a black-and-white runway with tunes provided by Uproot Andy, who mixed his collab Bumper to Bumper album with Studio 189 that traced the sounds of Africa's diaspora. The models were meant to be seen as one big family, celebrating Africa's diverse culture through brilliant prints, radiant colors from natural dyes from the motherland.

Before the finale walk, the audience was hit with a smash of a dance performance, featuring OkayAfrica faves Frankie Malloy, Papi Ojo, Hooliboy and the Lee Twins. A brief, beautiful and somber moment followed as stunning American Idol singer Frenchie Davis paid tribute to the late legend, Aretha Franklin, and to remember the fallen of September 11.

Studio 189's show was reminiscent of fashion parades you'd find in the black church of the south: classy fanfare with loud, unapologetic applause from the audience. The energy from onlookers was infectious and inexplainable.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

"I snuck out and watched people's reactions," Erwiah says. "It was so wonderful and it felt like being at someone's college graduation."

Although Erwiah was nervous that onlookers wouldn't understand this whirlwind of a fashion show, her vision translated the way it was meant to.

"I recognize that it was a bit out there," she says. "I was trying to strike this balance between presenting what various cultures in Africa look like, without being theatrical and costume-y at the same time. I wanted to make sure that the culture we put on display can be appreciated everywhere."

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Studio 189's NYFW show is ultimately a testament to what they continue to strive to put in action: creating opportunity, connecting artisans on the continent with the consumer, showing that a small brand can achieve the impossible and making luxury fashion accessible, yet organic.

"Why not make it more than clothes?" Erwiah asks. "It's about the value—these are garments you can keep, garments where you know who's making your clothes healthy.

Keep a look out for Studio 189's website that's due to launch next week. The brand will be taking the spring/summer 2019 collection to market this weekend, then off to the continent to present at Lagos Fashion Week and Glitz Fashion Week in Ghana in October.

Take a look at our favorite selections from the collection below.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.

Photo courtesy of Studio 189.


All runway photos by Oluwaseye Olusa, courtesy of Studio 189.

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Rema, image courtesy of the artist.

Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Rema, Teni & More Win Big at 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards

Check out the complete list of 2020 winners.

The Soundcity MVP Awards, the annual award show that recognizes the best and biggest in African music, took place over the weekend at the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. Some of the biggest names in African entertainment took home awards.

The show was hosted by South African star Bonang Matheba and featured performances from Diamond Platnumz, Tekno, Tiwa Savage, Stonebwoy and more.

The big winner of the night was none other than Burna Boy, who took home the award for African Artiste of the Year for the second time, the first time being in 2018 in which his mother, Bose Ogulu gave us that memorable acceptance speech warning us "to expect more madness." He also won Song of the Year for "Killin Dem," as well as Best Male MVP.

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Photo by Abena Boamah.

Photos: Here's What Happened at Daily Paper & Free the Youth's Design Talk for Accra's Young Creatives

Founders of the popular brands discussed all things African streetwear in a conversation facilitated by OkayAfrica and moderator Amarachi Nwosu.

Last week, Amsterdam-based, African-owned streetwear brand Daily Paper and Ghanaian streetwear label Free the Youth held a talk for young creatives at the Mhoseenu design studio in Accra, Ghana.

Moderated by Melanin Unscripted creator Amarachi Nwosu and presented in partnership with OkayAfrica, the design-based conversation explored everything from sustainable practices in manufacturing, to the overall evolution of streetwear globally. The founders of Free the Youth, which was been called Ghana's number one streetwear brand, expanded on how they've been able to build their audience, and shared details about their community-based initiatives.

They event, which took place at the Daily Paper Pop-up Store in Accra last Friday, drew a fashionable and creative-minded crowd ready to partake in a design discussion between West Africa and Europe.

Check out some of the action that took place at the Daily Paper x FYT event below, with photos by Abena Boamah.

Find more upcoming OkayAfrica events here.

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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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