Style
Photo courtesy of Akua Shabaka.

Style Dimension: Designer Akua Shabaka Channels Her Family's Afro-Diasporan Lineage

The young fashion designer and model seeks to tell the story of the black experience through timeless clothing.

Style Dimension is OkayAfrica's seven-part series highlighting emerging designers from Africa and its diaspora. Along with giving you a glimpse of each designer's stunning work, this series is an introduction into their creative realm. Kicking off the series, meet Akua Shabaka of House of Aama.

The vast diversity in black history and culture is clearly reflected through fashion and styles hailing from Africa's different regions to the Americas. People like Akua Shabaka actively study this and apply it to their creative retrospects.

As a fashion designer and model, she currently lives in New York City and has taken major inspirations from her travels throughout Africa and South America in places like Senegal and Cuba. Together with her mother Rebecca Henry, they formed fashion label House of Aama in 2013, inspired by their collective interest in African people and Africans in the diaspora.

Photo courtesy of Akua Shabaka.

Through House of Aama's collections, they aim to use fashion and design as the vehicle for black voices to explore their history, culture, spirituality and other cultural specifics unique to black culture. Rather than creating disconnect based on age, the mother-daughter duo is a testament that classic styles go beyond age or generation. Although their original collection in 2014 used mainly contemporary cuts with materials like Ghanaian kente cloth, Kenyan tartan fabrics and inspirations from East and West Africa, they later started focusing on contemporary aesthetics. Their recent collection features classic Victorian silhouettes as well as vintage references to create a more nuanced approach to design. Since then, their brand has been featured in platforms like Vogue, i-D and Shabaka has modeled in campaigns for major labels including Gucci, Valentino and Savage Fenty by Rihanna.

I spoke with Shabaka about her family lineage and how that has inspired her approach to design.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.