Monday, April 4, 2011

African Fashion Face Off

Featuring the Fashions of North – South – East – West Africa

Could there be any difference in the fashion of the different regions of Africa?  Or do they meet in the middle and manage to be similar in many ways? Oftentimes when we see magazines, African fashion can either be demonstrated as South African Fashion, West African fashion, and so forth. So in order to answer my insatiable inquisitiveness, I have to check around and see if I can find any distinct differentiation.  Hmnnn, let’s see.  How should we start? First, we have to be familiar with the facets in each region and see if it rings a bell.  Let’s start from there and see where it leads us.

South Africa in itself is the 25th largest country in the world with a rich diversity in culture, arts, and languages.  It is not only a haven for surfers, safari trails, picturesque landscapes and wine connoisseurs; it has emerged to become a fashion metropolis.  South African fashion is inspired by the style of the women all over town.  Their fashion includes vibrant and upbeat accessories made of intertwined beads and colorful fabrics in bold geometric patterns and deep colors.  This fashion has taken the catwalks and magazines quite surprisingly over the years.

North Africa includes the seven countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara.  This region has been historically and ecologically separated by the rest of Africa by the arid sands of the Sahara.  North African fashion is a fusion of the traditional Sudanese and Egyptian clothing ranging from the dainty head gear to elaborate dresses.  Kaftans with intricate embroideries and detailed patterns are the staple in Morocco.  The splendor of their fashion has influenced many designers to date.
East Africa is home to 19 territories: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles, Réunion and Mayotte.  East African fashion is all about quality, luxury, and exquisite tailoring as well as exuberance in colors and shapes.  Most of the statement and detailed necklaces we see nowadays are strongly influenced by the Kenyan and Tanzanian fashion.  East Africa is also known as a fashion jungle of animal prints, spots and stripes.  Imagine how designers can work wonders out of Zebra’s stripes, wildebeest’s legs, giraffe’s tail, hyena spots, or a buffalo’s horns!

West Africa comprises of 16 countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.  The famous bògòlanfini or bogolan ("mud cloth") fabric is a hand-made product of Malian cultural identity.  Kente fashion showcases the enviable Ghanaian culture and is widely known globally.

All in all, African fashion is a beautiful concoction of the varied styles of the different regions of Mother Africa.  No one is above the rest.  Every African piece is a chef-d'oeuvre that every African should be proud of.

Do you have an African piece and you want to tell the world about it? Share your story and will be happy to take you to a face-off!  For more features on African fashion check also Facebook and Twitter.


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