Style

Virgil Abloh Named Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton

The celebrated Ghanaian-American designer will bring his unique vision to the biggest luxury brand in the world.

Virgil Abloh, the designer, DJ and creative genius behind the Milan-based fashion label Off-White, will take his talents to French luxury brand Louis Vuitton as their new head of menswear, reports The New York Times.

"I feel elated," he told the publication. "This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams. And to show a younger generation that there is no one way anyone in this kind of position has to look is a fantastically modern spirit in which to start."

The label announced via Twitter this morning, that the designer's first show will take place during Men's Fashion Week in June.


With his new post, the first generation Ghanaian-American designer, will become one of just two black designers to hold a high-profile position at a major fashion brand—the other being Balmain's Olivier Rousteing, reports The Guardian.

The Chicago-born fashion maven first made waves when he acted as artistic director for Kanye West and Jay-Z's 2011 joint album Watch the Throne, for which he earned a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package. He launched Pyrex Vision the following year, before creating the high-end streetwear label Off-White in 2013.

The designer made huge waves in the streetwear industry last year when he redesigned ten Nike footwear classics.

With the appointment of Edward Enninful as Editor in chief of British Vogue last year, and the Liberian-owned label TELFAR winning the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize, Africans are making groundbreaking movies in the fashion industry, and we're glad to see the movement continue through gifted designers like Abloh. Congrats to the designer!

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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Style
Image: David Omigie, creative director of Daltimore, wears a contrast-panel, overlap leather jacket from Daltimore

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.

Backstage at her first live performance at the Big Brother Naija eviction show in July, Mavin's music starlet Ayra Starr posed for Instagram wearing a custom, ivory two-piece outfit. The 19-year-old posed wearing a slinky bandeau crop top with a metallic accent, and high waist baggy pants paired with opera fingerless gloves. The outfit is reminiscent of the same chic, carnal athleticism seen in Ayra's video for Bad Samaritan, where she wears both a custom fur coat and a monochromatic red leather outfit. Both looks are the work of Nigerian streetwear brand Daltimore.

These moments of fashion aren't happening in isolation. Streetwear has a stronghold on Nigerian youth culture, especially in Lagos, often troping around the resurgence of Y2K aesthetics that have begun to influence the buzzing profiles of Gen Z artists, fashion influencers, and entertainers. Bucket hats, crop tops, baguette bags, baggy jeans, mini skirts, and so on. Enter Daltimore, seizing the moment by signposting how these cultural pulses are intersecting. At first, the brand didn't eschew streetwear's disruptive tendencies when founded by its creative director David Omigie in 2015. The brand name is significant for David, to immortalize his late brother. Baltimore was his nickname back in high school.

This isn't the only familial death David has experienced to inspire the Daltimore footprint. The debut collection embraced simple, conservative tailoring, dashiki tunics, and shift dresses that stayed slightly loose on the body. Blending in casual touches like jeans and sneakers to keep it modern, the collection in hindsight appeared to be foreshadowing possibilities in streetwear. With a wave of terrorist attacks in Northern Nigeria and the unfair stereotyping of the region as violent and hostile, Daltimore shifted focus to the region's culture and iconography to dispel media narratives for its 2018 collection.

Translating the aridity of the North into invigorating brown close to the shade of pecan, Daltimore's 2018 collection featured clothes columned into long skirts, sleeveless kaftans with large white patch pockets, and head wraps. In finding its own design language, the brand has created a tension that sits between tradition and modernity. To that end, cowries on a zip-up leather jacket illustrate this intermingling or basketweave embellishment on a tote bag. Embracing the broader, aggressive aspects of streetwear was only a matter of time. Look at a Daltimore ensemble and there would typically be a harness looping around the wearer, vests and bomber jackets in neon colors, bags with sling chains, and velcro straps. And lots of leather.

From 2Baba, Blaqbonez, Joeboy, Fireboy DML, Dremo, Lady Donli to Toke Makinwa, Dare Art-Alade, Ric Hassani, Oxlade, Daltimore has accrued an impressive list of celebrity fans in a relatively short time. In this OkayAfrica interview, David shares his motivation for going into fashion, how he's been navigating the industry, and defines streetwear from his vantage point.

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Photos courtesy of Damilola and Odunayo

Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi Are Bringing African Discovery To the World

We spoke with the Nigerian tech gurus about their app Backdrop and how to make it on the continent and sell to the world.

Have you ever wished you had the resources to easily find picture-perfect, photo-worthy spots in any and every new city you visit? If you said, 'No', you're lying. If you said 'Yes', then, welcome.

A rather nice problem that many travel lovers run into is not knowing where to take beautiful pictures and most importantly, what to do with them if you're not a fan of photo-sharing apps that already exist. With the world opening back up for travel and adventure, the eagerness to go out and experience and capture something different is palpable.

Well, while some have spent their time creating Pinterest boards of #vacationgoals, Timi Ajiboye, Damilola Odufuwa, and Odunayo Eweniyi were using their resources to create new ways for us to enjoy beautiful things, namely their new app Backdrop.

The Nigerian crypto, tech, and digital media successes banded together to create Backdrop; a photo-sharing social media app dedicated to travel, discovery, and creating memories through photography. It can't be denied that social media has changed the way in which we connect and share our lives with the world around us. Aesthetically pleasing and conversation-provoking images and videos are how we take part in the global village and allows us to witness the creativity and world experiences from millions across the world - all from the comfort of our smartphones.

The app focuses on discovering new places - abroad or in your own home city - and merges tech, social media, and travel to do so. Above and beyond the desire to get users to romanticize their lives and escapades, the app gives space to local restaurants, store-fronts, and attractions and their abilities to create buzz around themselves through positive user experiences and intentionally picturesque establishments. The app is free, easy, and solely focused on travel, making it a go-to travel companion.

Through their love for travel, education, real-world experiences, and expertise in their respective fields, the 3 long-time friends have curated a space eager to find a country's coolest photo spots, and your own hometown may surprise you.

We spoke to 2 out of the 3 minds behind the app about being African women in tech, their new app development, and how they plan to use Backdrop to serve a specific niche in the market.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Blood & Water is Khosi Ngema's Moment - and She’s Enjoying It

We spoke with the South African actress about her hit TV show and being Gabrielle Union's #WCW.