WE interviewed NDUKA OBAIGBENA and two of the three designers pre-show.
First up was ANISA MPUNGWE, designer of the LOINCLOTH AND ASHES Collection. We asked her about the unusual name she chose for her company. She was raised in the Anglican Church and chose this biblical reference [Sackcloth & Ashes] which she adapted to her own culture, hence LOINCLOTH and Ashes.
We saw this combination of cultures in one dress with a very subdued, heavily textured fabric. The surprise was the colorful lining using traditional African pattern.
Next, we chatted with DEOLA SAGOE, the rising star discovered by ANDRE LEON TALLEY. Like Anisa, she combined European and African influences in her designs. She’s drawing on military and aristocratic styles from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries such as mutton sleeves and military style buttons. Within the same piece, she incorporated embroidered designs based on Masai warrior body paint. The result was a collection that was strong and feminine – just like she intended. She is very interested in expressing the newfound independence African women are coming into today.
Our last stop was the man himself who was besieged by admirers but was nice enough to give us one last interview. He spoke about his philosophy of investment rather than foreign aid and when asked “Why fashion?” we discussed how this show is the perfect platform for Africa’s modern creativity and relevance today. Says NDUKA, “It’s a marathon not a dash.” He is determined to persevere in promoting his beloved homeland in the USA and around the world. He will be showing in Paris next.