Fashiony: Exploring African and Asian Fashion at Bumbershoot

By Seattle Mag


August 27, 2013

!–paging_filter–pOK, it’s officially time to talk about a href=”” target=”_blank”Bumbershoot/a, which, with the addition of a href=”” target=”_blank”Fashiony/a, an exhibit curated by the imminently fashionable a href=”“Erika Dalya Massaquoi/a, really does have something for everyone this year. (But I also just want to mention that since we’re officially talking about Bumbershoot, it means that summer is over.)/p
pNow on to the good news:/p
pFashiony is a workroom-style exhibit with a focus on African and Asian fashion, featuring “three galleries of tear sheets, visual materials, and video” meant to give viewers a birds eye view of emerging trends in street style, Africana and illustration It’s an exciting, vibrant fashion world. It’s happening all weekend-long at Bumbershoot in the Fisher Pavilion and includes work from local designer Emeka Alams—whose line, a href=”” target=”_blank”Gold Coast Trading Co/a, is one to watch (as is the rumored collab with the most amazing a href=”“Faris Du Graf/a),nbsp;illustrator a href=”” target=”_blank”Izzie Klingels/a and a flower installation from a href=”“Marigold and Mint/a. I can’t wait for this exhibit, and emSeattle/em mag is extremely proud to be a media sponsor of both Fashiony and Bumbershoot at large. Below: an illustration by Klingels:/p
p style=”text-align: center;”img src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/hibiscuspattern_izzie-klingels.jpg” alt=”izzie” width=”500″ height=”646″/p
pIn addition to the Fashiony, Massaquoi is bringing Helen Jennings to Seattle for a special a href=”” target=”_blank”night/a at Elliott Bay Books on August 29. Jennings is a fashion journalist (and editor of a href=”” target=”_blank”emArise/em /amagazine, a prominent journal of African fashion), whose book, emNew African Fashion/em, is a must-read for those of us interested in the international style scene. emNew African Fashion/em also includes a chapter on Alams./p
pWe had a chance to chat with Jennings recently about the state of African fashion. Read on for the result:/p
pstrongAli Brownrigg:/strong Are you still based in the UK?brstrongHelen Jennings: /strongYes, I live in London, which is of course a very multi-cultural city and also a convenient one from which to travel to most places around the world./p
pstrongAB:/strong Have you been to Seattle before?brstrongHJ:/strong No I haven’t. I go to NYC a lot but this is my first time in the Northwest. I was a total grunge girl when I was a young teenager so I will be going on a Mudhoney pilgrimage! I’m also looking forward to all of the delights of Bumbershoot./p
pstrongAB:/strong Do you notice a difference between how Americans respond to African fashion compared to other western countries?brstrongHJ/strong: African Americans obviously respond well to African fashion and use it as a means to connect to the motherland. More broadly though, America is a hard market to break for any emerging designer or fashion scene, as it is just so large, commercial and competitive. Several African designers do well here however and there are events popping up such as Africa Fashion Week New York and Africa Fashion Week Los Angeles. It’s encouraging./p
pstrongAB:/strong How did Emeka Alams hit your radar?brstrongHJ:/strong emArise/em magazine featured his previous collective 21MC in our very first issue in 2008 and I have keep an eye on his work ever since. I really like the aesthetic vision he developed for the Gold Coast Trading Co, infusing casual items with social messages about African heritage. It’s as thought provoking as it is wearable. I have given over a chapter of my book to his work. Coming to Seattle and doing the talk together at The Elliot Bay Book Company will be the first time we have actually met. Below: a tee shirt by Alams./p
p style=”text-align: center;”img src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/untitled-3-705×1024.jpg” alt=”gold” width=”405″ height=”590″/p
pspan style=”font-size: 13.333333969116211px;”strongAB:/strong Do you think a href=”” target=”_blank”Duro Olowo’s/a stint at a href=”…” target=”_blank”JCPenny/a helped get African fashion more on the mind of the American public?/span/p
pstrongHJ:/strong Absolutely. I went to Duro’s launch for the line at NYFW, which was a huge success because he is one of the most established and respected designers of African origin in the USA and the collection sums up the essence of his brand: colourful, feminine, joyful and now price-wise, accessible. His eye for and use of prints is very African without being over powering and he took the range right through apparel, accessories and home wares so there really was something for everyone. I also liked the fact that his campaign girl was the Nigerian supermodel Oluchi Onweagba. Duro is a pioneer for African fashion and with this JCPenny collaboration he brought African fashion to the mainstream in the most tasteful of ways./p
pstrongAB:/strong Who are some of your current fave African designers?brstrongHJ:/strong There are so many but to name just three, I love a href=”” target=”_blank”Maki Oh/a for her beautiful adire silks and intelligent concepts; a href=”” target=”_blank”Laurenceairline/a for her ethical approach to striking menswear; and a href=”” target=”_blank”Mimi Plange/a for her theatrical, intricate tailoring./p
pstrongAB:/strong We featured Erika in a skirt by South African linenbsp;a href=”” target=”_blank”Kaela Kay/anbsp;in the a href=”” target=”_blank”mag/anbsp;are you familiar with this designer? Thoughts? (I’m in love with her stuff).brstrongHJ:/strong I wasn’t familiar with Kaela Kay but from what I can see on her website, her line looks like lovely stuff—flattering, fun and modern women’s wear./p
pstrongAB:/strong In addition to emArise/em, are you working on any new projects?brstrongHJ:/strong Yes, quite a few actually. I’m managing editor for a new website and series of fashion events called Afro-Polis. The concept brings together editorial, fashion week showrooms and cultural happenings that promote modern Africa. I’m also one of the directors of a new festival to launch in Senegal in 2015 called Nataal. And I’m co-curating the Knokke-Heist Photo Festival 2014, a Belgian biennial that next year will focus on African art./p
pHope to see you at Fashiony this weekend, and keep your ears open for more interesting work from Massaquoi, particularly with the Seattle Art Museum in 2015./p


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