Sunday, June 21, 2009

african fashion week

as someone who happens to be both african and fashionable, i was charmed to hear about african fashion week! consider this a followup to keyse's beautiful post below.

my economist father works extensively with crime and corruption in subsaharan africa; beyond that, i visit and i read the news. i'm more than aware that there are a lot of things in africa that need fixing. but i've been such a fan recently of things like the no. 1 ladies detective agency (read an adorable feature about it in design*sponge here) and this fashion show, for a very important reason.

growing up in the early nineties in suburban ohio, just about the only image people could connect with the idea of africanness were stereotyped safari pictures, fly-specked children whose distended bellies seemed to belie their knobby extremities, and !kung san and masai tribesmen wandering the plains (the more scantily clad the better).

that's like allowing your only image of asia to be women with their feet bound and other ladies giving birth in rice paddies and then rising to keep harvesting, with maybe a wispy-mustached opium den proprietor thrown in to round things out. i'm really excited that people are finally portraying a modern, nuanced, complex and differentiated picture of the continent - with clothes, no less! icing on the cake. check out some more gorgeous eye candy here, or visit the article for the rest of the images and interviews.

i'm also going to leave you with a song by one of my favorite artists, daby touré. i discovered him by accident last year at the mfa summer concert series (i'd gone to see extra golden, his opening act). he blew me completely away. his voice is a bit strange; high and warbling, then low and thoughtful. i love his work because it's not quite traditionally mauritanian, not quite parisian, not quite afrobeat, although you can hear all of those influences in there somewhere. he's world music in the best sense of the word: he kind of seems like a citizen of everywhere, and his music reflects that.

his performance of this song was so haunting and lovely and aching and stirring and calm. it was like being inside on a heavily storming night after a long and awful day, tucked up safe with someone you care about. i used this song on repeat as my lullaby during all of last summer's job, apartment and lifestyle freakouts; it helped me let it all go and fall asleep. i'm not sure how imeem's embedding format will work, but hopefully you can hear it for yourself.

Banta - Daby Touré

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