KO LAPENG is a story about home.
Home as a structure. Home as a comfort. Home as in the four walls that write the preface to our stories.
A concrete memory; home will always be home.
MADONSELA launches their new collection KO LAPENG and here they open the door, inviting you in.
KO LAPENG emphasizes the effect home has on building character and personality.
Our stories do not necessarily define us, but rather equip us with a perspective that we alone own, but, one that has been built by our surroundings, our choices, and the journey to here, now.
KO LAPENG recognizes the cultural representation of what builds communities inside of a home.
A space that defines your perception. An emotion you carry with you. From home, we become.
Home and experience aids and challenges our progression, as well as it’s continuation.
“Becoming is the best identity,” express Warren & Prince, of MADONSELA.
Our foundations are layered through what, and how, we experience.
We move through this life with our perspectives longing for constant enhancement. This growth determined by our willingness to be aware; how conscious we are of our environments, and, the impact that both us, and they, have upon each other.
We are always in conversation with our environment. We are not always listening.
The collection is an embodiment of bold.
We see striking glossy leather neutrals and warm tones of tenderly vibrant colour. Their use of asymmetry and shape has added their stylised taint to classic pieces. As if they are filling in the gaps. The suit you always felt you needed, is here – at home.
Home is used to highlight the exploration of how we were raised, how the world has since changed and how adaption has become a means of survival
We bear witness to the beauty and power exuding from this transcendence of expression.
Riky Rick and Kwesta wear MADONSELA within a household, and step into the we made it narrative. An amalgamation of passions driving forward; fashion and music as differing agents of enriching African culture. An expression of success in conjunction, and the energy illuminates how far we have all come.
We celebrate this together, we celebrate this at home.
We advance through life cycles while they prepare us for that first day of independence.
But, we must remember to face beyond just forward, as the beauty of it all, is the message we leave behind. When we carry our stories with us, we have the opportunity to leave footprints of growth for those that come after us and shine the light that will guide us to redemption, and this all begins where it starts, “ka Philo le moya,” – at home.
And so here we are, at home, in appreciation of home.
We stand in power, in leather, together; KO LAPENG.
KOLAPENG “HOUSE OF LEATHER” AW22 BY @madonsel_a
PRODUCER & FASHION DIRECTOR : CHRISNA DE BRUYN www.chrisnadebruyn.com
CREATIVE DIRECTION : WARREN MEKO, PRINCE MEKO & SHUMANI MUVHULAWA
DIRECTOR & STILLS PHOTOGRAPHER : THATO MABASO
DOP : WESLEY THESIS
1ST ASSISTANT : STHE TWALA
2ND ASSISTANT : SIMBA
3RD ASSISTANT : LUKE JOHNSTONE
FINAL MIX & SOUND DESIGN : EMERALD GREY
PROP STYLIST AND SET DESIGN : DOMO WATSON
ASSISTANT : CHLOE ELI
MAKE UP : SKYE
HAIRSTYLIST : MIMI DUMA @lampostproduction
COPY WRITER : WARREN AND PRINCE OKEM
COPY EDITOR : JODI REDELINGHUYS
SPECIAL THANKS TO
#livealittlePURA #betterforyou #Kolapeng #Editorial #Fashion #Photography #africaisnowmagazine #Kasi #Culture #Art #Kasivogue
A WORK OF EYE-ART
Opening ‘Pandora’s Box’ with Robin Osrin, the visual visionary behind OzBob EyeArt. Words by Ky Bxshxff | @kybxshxff
When it comes to individuality, your iris is even more unique than your thumbprint. So, take it from me, someone whose personal style is intrinsically linked to iconic sunnies: when it comes to framing your own one-of-a-kind ‘windows to the soul’, seek the extraordinary.
OzBob EyeArt – an embellished glasses label based in Cape Town – is far from ordinary. Each piece is hand made by a creative fueled by the fear of being average. Robin Osrin, known affectionately to her friends as ‘Bob’, birthed OzBob during lockdown and channelled years of inspiration into this new design outlet. A year and a bit later, and Robin’s “sideline gig” is turning heads and catching eyes with every pair.
Robin’s ‘day job’ is as a wardrobe stylist, one of the most established and experienced in South Africa. She started out her storied career in style under Cosmopolitan Fashion Directors Bev Nates and Malcolm Klûk, but fashion and costume have always been in her blood. Robin grew up around her father’s costume jewellery business (an obvious childhood inspiration for her works of eye-art) and her late grandmother was a costume designer in Johannesburg. In fact, several of her “Nana’s” cherished brooches passed down to her have found new lives, repurposed as sunglasses – and passed back onto her cousins, history renewed for the modern wearer.
That repurposing is central to the OzBob creative process. As a stylist, Robin has always been aware of the excess and waste of the fashion industry. She’s been on the look-out for ways to recycle all the little treasures in her ‘Pandora’s Box’ – her vast collection of once-used wardrobe items from shoots and film productions. Using the pandemic-induced down-time, Robin started deconstructing jewellery and reconstructing them into once-off look-at-me frames. She also upcycles broken jewellery into her designs.
Each pair has an individual personality – and Robin’s personal touch. It’s not hard to understand why the city’s style-circles are taking notice. Some have even attracted international attention, being shipped off to clients abroad.
If the eyes truly are the window to the soul, then right now, OzBob – stylish and sustainably-minded – is the only window dressing worth looking at. Find your perfect fit, before they disappear before your very eyes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
PHOTOGRAPHER : ALEXA SINGER www.alexasinger.com
SUNGLASSES BY OZBOB @ozbob_za www.ozbob.co.za CREATED BY @robinosrin
TEXT BY KY BXSHXFF @kybxshxff
FASHION STYLIST & ART DIRECTION : CATHARINA VAN WYK @catharinavw
MAKE UP ARTIST : SASKIA BUXTON @saskiabuxton @discocreatives
PHOTOGRAPHER FIRST ASSISTANT : SEAN FURLONGER @seanfurlonger.studio
SECOND ASSISTANT : RIO VAN DER MERWE @rio_vandermerwe
RETOUCHER : HEIDI LOUW @heidilouwretouch
MAXHOSA BY LADUMA @merchantsonlong
CHULAAP @chusuwannapha @merchantsonlong
CINDY MFABE @cindy_mfabe @merchantsonlong
KATHERINE COLLINS @_kayti_anne_
FIKILE SOKHULU @sokhulufikile
ZOE @zoe_cpt_sa @bossmodels
IMAAN @Imaan_higo @bossmodels
TARRYN TIPPELS @bambi.com_ @myfriendned
MILASANDE MBIZA @Mmilasande @myfriendned
CALEB WILLOWBY @sir.willoughby @myfriendned
TAPELO M @teepeemafoks @20management
OLIVIER NTUMBA @olivier_ntumba @20management
DIRECTOR : ALEXA SINGER www.alexasinger.com
DOP : SEAN FURLONGER @seanfurlonger.studio www.seanfurlongerphoto.com
EDITOR : SEAN FURLONGER @seanfurlonger.studio
SUNGLASSES BY OZBOB @ozbob_za CREATED BY @robinorsrin
FASHION STYLIST & ART DIRECTOR CATHARINA VAN WYK @catharinavw
MAKE UP ARTIST : SASKIA BUXTON @saskiabuxton @discocreatives
In a country where we have enough wind and sun to generate electricity, why are we still using coal? Faced with a global crisis of plastic filling up oceans and landfills, why do we create more instead of finding innovative ways to reuse what has already been created? Lara Klawikowski’s SS21 Fashion Week ‘Inflorescence’ range gives us a shining example of what the future of sustainable fashion should look like.
With global giants like Adidas collaborating with Parley to create garments manufactured out of recycled ocean plastic, we can be proud to have a like-minded local designer investing in the future of the planet right here on our doorstep. Lara Klawikowski didn’t let the lack of local sustainable fabrics stand in the way of her design process. When she couldn’t find the sustainable fabric she required locally, she started creating her own. Lara sources her recycled materials from Rewoven, a sustainability initiative that collects fabric off-cuts from CMTs around Cape Town, that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Her beautiful designs take on an organic nature of their own seen in her ‘Inflorescence’ range recently unveiled at SA Fashion Week which is a range created from recycled materials. Lara gives us an insight into her thought process saying, “I was inspired to design an uplifting collection in a happy colour palette with textures, shapes and proportions that inspire women to dream of days of dressing up beyond the pandemic. The goal of this collection was to show that waste can be transformed into fashionable and glamorous designs.”
Lara explains her journey of creating interesting textures saying, “I also up cycled perforated rubber and 100% recyclable Spun-bond for the designs. I transformed the waste into flexible, tactile, sculptural panels of material that mimic the detail and texture of flowers. Each panel in the designs of this collection is uniquely hand-crafted at our studio making each garment bespoke with its own idiosyncrasies like a flower.”
The shoes used in our editorial are from Matsidiso, a Fair Trade and Proudly South African shoe brand with twenty years of shoe manufacturing behind it. Matsidiso collaborated with Lara Klawikowski for South African Fashion Week 2021 to supply her with the shoes for her range. They employ eleven experienced cobblers with the aim of building the SA economy and offering growth to each individual in the business. Their aim is to encourage their clients to turn away from mass production and support local businesses as well as educating consumers about sustainability whilst aiding their team with the right skills and salaries to keep them empowered.
The jewellery featured in our editorial is from Yellow by Jeslea, manufactured and carefully hand made using sterling silver and brass. Jeslea is committed to manufacturing locally from sustainable, ethical sources, with each piece being handmade in her Woodstock studio. Her brand ethos is to “create pieces of art that are not only wearable but that are progressive and timeless and that make people feel good.”
Against the backdrop of the Darling Wind Farm we are reminded of yet another threat to our environment, our daily energy consumption. Wind-generated electricity is far cleaner and less environmentally destructive than coal and fossil fuel generators, therefore causing less air pollution. With these fashion brands and environmental initiatives investing in the growth and sustainability in our country, should we as consumers not also follow in their footsteps? It takes more effort, thought and investment to create ethical and sustainable products but at the end of the day the cost of investing in a future of ethical industry and fashion far outweighs the alternative.
PHOTOGRAPHER : RICHARD KEPPEL SMITH @richardkeppelsmith @lmda.world
FASHION STYLIST : LYAL SEBA @lyalseba @sixloveartistmanagement
HAIR & MAKEUP : RAINE TAUBER @rainetauber @lmda.world
DIGITAL OPERATOR : GRANT SMITHERS @will.b_travellingberries
CREATIVE DIRECTION: LYAL SEBA & RICHARD KEPPEL SMITH
TEXT BY LYAL SEBA
A SPECIAL THANKS TO DARLING WIND FARM
On a well-ventilated patio, surrounded by lush vegetation and totem animals, we got to sit down with Hussein Suleiman, one of the three founders of the Amsterdam based, pan-African, world-wide brand DAILY PAPER, to get under his skin about guidance from the ancestors, African creativity and the way forward.
How did the three of you founders meet?
Jefferson and I were in the same year at university back in 2012. We didn’t know each other at the time and studied completely different things, so it was out in the Amsterdam nightlife that we eventually got talking and realized that we were living in the same area of town. That was where our friendship started and about two years later I got introduced to Abderrahmane, our third founder, who had been a friend of Jefferson’s for many years already.
What do you have in common, what made you connect?
We were all living in West Amsterdam, were the children of first or second-generation immigrants and had our roots in Africa. We also weirdly realized that all three of us knew more about European history than the history of the African countries that our heritage stemmed from.
What is West Amsterdam like?
It’s very multicultural with diverse nationalities. The majority is from North Africa, but you also find a lot of West African people living there, along with people from the other Dutch colonies such as Suriname and Indonesia. I feel grateful for having had the opportunity to grow up in Amsterdam and the opportunities that it came with, but at the same time – still to this day and possibly for generations to come – a lot of prejudice exists. My parents recently retired and as all of us kids are grown up and independent, they decided to move back to Somalia.
How did you get to the idea of starting Daily Paper?
Daily Paper was created as a vehicle to learn more about ourselves, our roots – where we come from. In the beginning it was really about us searching for ourselves, looking into the history of our heritage and translate that into contemporary menswear, but since then, we have also had the opportunity to visit other African countries and discover stories beyond our direct lineage. We like to look into parallels of what is going on in the world and how our ancestors used to deal with similar issues. You know, there’s just so much wisdom in Africa that never got to us – so many beautiful stories and ways of thinking and connecting to yourself.
Was it a hustle getting the business working?
Well first and foremost, we never really approached it as a business. It wasn’t about becoming big and making a lot of money. We used more of a freestyle approach, “If it works it works”. I was still in second year of university when we dropped our first collection and it didn’t exactly sell. The minimum order for producing our t-shirts in bulk was about 1,500 shirts and in the first month we only sold about 80 of those. Sitting in a student apartment looking at boxes all day trying to figure out how to move the stock, we eventually gave a lot of it away in hope of getting the word out about our brand. But we didn’t quit, we just kept on going. Every season we tried something new, something different and just by doing that, our name grew, and money started coming in from retailers who wanted to sell our products. They loved our campaigns, loved the clothes and eventually we were starting to form a community of people who loved our message.
Apart from telling the African stories, how are you more directly involved in supporting African creativity?
We shot our first campaign on the continent in 2014, in Morocco, and since that moment we made it part of our practice to go to the place in Africa that inspired the collection. This year we went to Ghana and we are super happy about how the campaign turned out. We have also shot in Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as in Nigeria. For us, this is our way to support amazing local African creatives. We tried to produce some of our garments in South Africa, unfortunately it turned out to be too challenging with meeting timelines, but who knows what potential the future holds. We are also looking at ways of connecting to the African youth and help them channel their creativity. Jefferson is currently in Ghana, where he is from, doing research, so depending on what he comes back with we may start a project there soon.
How have you found yourselves adapting to the times of the pandemic?
From a personal perspective, I think fashion in general was moving at a very high speed. It felt like it was fashion week every week and I think it’s almost like a blessing in disguise for many brands that everything has slowed down now. In terms of adapting as a brand, we have definitely found ourselves investing more in digital content and finding more innovative ways of connecting to our customers directly through our platforms.
Did the slowing down and adapting also filter through to thinking and acting more sustainably?
Sustainability has been an integral part of our business for the last four years and is something that we place a lot of importance on. We’re a young company with the majority of our employees being under 30, so it’s something that comes naturally to us. We constantly ask ourselves what we can do differently and that’s something that stems from within the company rather than from external pressure.
To make a bit of Daily Paper yours, bring yourself over to the pop-up store @177 Oxford Rd, Rosebank in Johannesburg before the 31st of March 2021, or visit their online store here.
Hamaji—the brainchild of Louise Sommerlatte—means nomad in Swahili: a word that embodies the spirit of her brand. As Kenyans who have always lived closely to the natural world, we can see nature’s fingerprint on both her designs and the textiles she chooses. We are excited to be part of her platform when she launches her collection on Thursday the 28th of January at 4 pm East African Time. We believe that HAMAJI will be a huge success and look forward to this collection and her brand becoming part of the world stage.
To get to know the creator and proud owner of HAMAJI we asked Louise Neoma Sommerlatte to tell us more about herself. Her story is both unique and intriguing. We are excited to share her story with you.
Louise was born and raised in the East African bush and spent an adventurous childhood living in various parts of Kenya with her parents: her father is a wildlife conservationist, and her mother is a botanist. This involved constant moving around in nature. Hence being in nature was simply a fundamental part of her upbringing. Design became a passion. We can see how Louise has fused her love of the natural world and her passion for design. Louise graduated from Fedisa and then set her sights on travelling. She has since seen much of the world, absorbing influences from each new place. However, Africa has always had the strongest pull and is where her heart lies. After a few years of experiencing life abroad, she has come home! Louise aims to weave the spirit of Africa into each piece she designs.
Every HAMAJI design begins with the sourcing of the textile. The charm of African textiles lies in natural raw fibres, hand woven pieces and other organic materials. For this collection, she collaborated with @nuno.nairobi, natural dying designers who use vegetable dyes on Dhow sail materials. HAMAJI is created around the preservation of ancient textile traditions and nomadic craftsmanship. One cannot help but notice the intense buzz of African life in the textiles and design choices. Each HAMAJI treasure is unique and inspired by creating an ethical African narrative.
All eyes are on Africa. We are seeing an explosion of designers in the fashion industry in our beloved continent. Louise sees African design as the future and hopes to build HAMAJI into a beacon of sustainable African design. She would like to co-create with local artisans and bring Africa’s aesthetics to the rest of the world. And to conclude in her own words: “I want to pave the way for more ethical fashion practices, slow made fashion, up-cycling, sustainable design and a circular economy.”
We look forward to watching the Hamaji brand grow and will be following this journey closely.
African skin and darker skin tones need unique care and attention. That is why Afriderm has developed skincare products for dark skin that specially target dry and sensitive areas. Afriderm’s wide range of specialised skincare products are formulated to nourish and protect the rich, exotic beauty of dark skin.
From Cape to Ciaro and everywhere in-between there is a burst of creative potential on the fashion front. Michele-Lee Collins an international makeup artist explains that to prepare your skin for a big event, you have to start the day before, by giving attention to how much moisture and water went into your skin. Start from top to toe. Refresh your skin first. Don’t hold back on moisturizing your skin. It is important to add the SP factor. AFRICA IS NOW magazine invites you to take a trip with Palesa Pali Tembe, where she goes behind the scene to see how beauty and fashion meet with style in Africa. This all happens on the set of the fashion shoot done for AFRICA IS NOW online magazine’s editorial, that specifically combine fashion and skincare. AFRICA IS NOW introduces the fashion conscious South African men and woman to the exciting products and designers that are doing brilliant work and is accessible to all.
This exciting shoot was organised and styled by the Creative director of the Magazine, Chrisna de Bruyn. The designs were all sourced from Merchants on Long street. One of the designers of these amazing creations is Onesimo Bam from One I am. What inspires him to design particular outfits comes easily. He never plan ahead or think what he must do, no drawing board and rethinking for him. He allows his emotions and feelings of the moment to flow into his designs in a playful, fun way. His work shows his personality and joy that can be seen in every one of his garments. As can seen, he uses colours that can be seen in nature. The blue of the sky in contrast with the white of the clouds.
The models of the day was Aza Mhlana from My friend Ned and Vanessa from Ice Model Agency. The Photographer Kitso Kgori presented by Hero Creative Management make use of good lighting and angle to bring the best out of her models. The models must feel comfortable and know what they like and stand strong and speak up on their choices and how the Photographer wants them to pose and move. To be a top Photographer takes time and patience. Success doesn’t come easy.
PHOTOGRAPHER: KITSO KGORI @HEROCREATIVEMANAGEMENT
FASHION DIRECTOR: CHRISNA DE BRUYN @AFRICAISNOWMAGAZINE
FASHION TEAM: ONESIMO BAM & GAVIN MICKEY COLLINS @HEROCREATIVEMANAGEMENT
MAKE UP ARTIST: MICHELLE-LEE COLLINS @HEROCREATIVEMANAGEMENT
MODELS: VANESSA NGOLO @ICEMODELSCPT & AZA MHLANA @MYFRIENDNED @BOOMMODELS
SPONSOR BY AFRIDERM
TV PRESENTER: PALESA PALI TEMBE
AFTERNOON EXPRESS SHOW SABC 3
COMMUICATION SPECIALIST: SHARON WARROLL
FASHION BY MERCHANTS ON LONG
ONE I AM
HATS BY CRYSTAL BIRCH
TEXT BY CHRISTINE BARNARD
STUDIO: HERO CREATIVE MANAGEMENT
Born in Togo, then came to live in Paris as a teenager, it is in the French capital that Amah Ayivi created Marché Noir Paris Lomé. His brand, born on the mezzanine of the Comptoir Général (a Parisian bar and restaurant) offers vintage clothes that he finds on the Togolese markets, clothes that come from Europe and are sent to Africa like rubbish and that thanks to Amah’s eagle eye, come back to Europe as a real fashion piece. Over time he began to create his own pieces, inspired by traditional African clothing and revisited in his own way.
With Marché Noir, a whole sustainable side is put forward, the recycling of clothes with vintage but also the recycling of ideas with modernized traditional clothing.
Visionary, multi-faceted, an ecologist ahead of his time and above all unique and talented, it is in a Parisian café near Bastille that Amah Ayivi tells us about his projects and his universe.
AIN : What was your background before creating Marché Noir Paris Lomé ?
Amah : I did a lot of things. I studied marketing but I only worked in this field for a year because I realized that I wasn’t really interested in working in offices. Afterwards I was a casting director for 10 years, I used to do wild casting, first for a production and then I set up on my own. And I even had an African food restaurant for a while.
Then I started working at the Comptoir Général in 2012. I set up a brunch there: an “afrobrunch” in which I mixed a lot of flavors so it would be a change from the classic brunch. One day the owner of the Comptoir Général, who knew that I had a taste for style and vintage, suggested that we open a vintage boutique on the mezzanine of the restaurant.
That’s how the Marché Noir adventure began, it’s been going on since 2013 and in the meantime, I’ve become one of the directors of the Comptoir Général and then a shareholder for 5 years, until 2017.
The Comptoir Général was an incredible adventure for me because there were clothes, music, and even exhibitions and conferences. It was a great experience in my life, which taught me a lot and allowed Marché Noir concept to really develop.
AIN : Why do you live in Paris and how long have you lived there?
Amah : I was born in Togo and I arrived in Paris in 1983 to live with my uncle who raised me. I’ve been living there for 37 years now, so I’ve been living there for a little while. I have learned to tame Paris and I really feel like a Parisian because I love this city. I travel a lot but I like being in Paris, I love Parisian life.
AIN : Do you travel a lot in Africa ?
Amah : Yes, I travel a lot in Europe and Africa. In Europe because since I left the Comptoir Général and we closed our Marché Noir shop in the Marais, I no longer have a shop, so I’m doing Pop Up stores and projects all over Europe, for example I’ve just come back from Stockholm, where I made an exhibition about my work and the African fabric. So I travel a lot, soon I will go to Denmark and Italy. Of course, I also travel a lot to Africa, I go there 3 or 4 times a year.
AIN : Marché noir Paris Lomé is a unique and complete project, how did it was born?
Amah : The project was born when I was at the Comptoir Général and when we decided to open the second-hand shop on the mezzanine. For the first supply of clothes, I went to the south of France but I thought why not get my supplies from Africa, because I always remembered that in Togo we had big vintage markets made up of clothes that came from Europe, so the idea was to bring these European clothes back to Europe.
This concept was also a militant act, because Europeans send anything and everything to Africa, such as fur coats that nobody needs because it’s hot there, so I wanted to bring back these clothes sent like rubbish to Africa as treasures to Europe and that’s how the Black Market was born.
AIN : Marché noir mean Black Market, why this name?
Amah : I decided to choose this name because the clothes I buy in Africa, I find them in huge markets, which are sometimes the size of several Parisian neighborhoods, there are plenty of things and I pay for everything in cash.
It was kind of funny that I paid for everything in cash as if it was illegal, like a gangster. Plus the word play was perfectly suited to the fact that I buy the clothes in markets. Apparently this name pleases a lot but at the beginning I wasn’t sure because it’s daring and it has a double connotation.
AIN : Do you find all the clothes you sell in Africa?
Amah : Yes 90% of the vintage is sourced in Africa and for some time now I have been designing my own creations, which are based on a traditional Ghanaian outfit called the Batakali, made from a fabric called Kenté. It is a fabric woven in strips which are then sewn together, I use a Kenté from Ghana. So everything is produced in Africa because I really wanted to work with African craftsmen on the spot and show that it was possible to have “made in Africa” which was very well made and of very good quality. Moreover my clothes continue to rise in quality because I am demanding and the European and American markets where I sell a lot are also very demanding.
It was a real will on my part, I didn’t even think for a second about producing somewhere other than Africa.
AIN : In the beginning you only offered vintage clothes at Marché Noir but today you also create your own clothes, why?
Amah : It’s a good question because I’ve always been asked to design my own clothes but I never really wanted to because vintage is very important to me because I’ve been dressing in vintage since I was 15 years old and I’m a bit against mass production so I didn’t want to create and produce new clothes.
Then I wanted to create this Batakali outfit that I told you about, inspired by my father but also by the former President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, who when he went to meetings at the United Nations or met other political figures wore the Batakali, he represented Ghana in his traditional dress. It was these two people who inspired me when I felt ready to design.
It’s not mass market products, it’s handmade, I don’t produce a lot of pieces because each one takes time to make.
AIN : What are your references and inspirations in terms of style?
Amah : The person who inspires me the most is my father, I realized not long ago that he inspired me so much, when I was asked this question before I said that it was the street or Africa that inspired me. But I managed to put a name to my main inspiration and it is really my father, I still have images of him in my head from when I was a child, that I used to go with him to his tailor’s, I remember his three-piece suits, his boubous and his hats. He had that African elegance, which is perfectly clear to me today.
And there is also the style and attitude of the 60s and 70s in Africa, which can be seen in the photos of Malick Sidibé or Seydou Keïta, which inspires me in my style and in my creations. Today’s Africa inspires me less in terms of style, but its energy inspires me a lot, especially that of young African creators.
AIN : You have also created a style office for other designers, how did you come up with this idea?
Amah : I created this style agency with Sam and Shaka from Art Come First because people told us they liked our style, we were sometimes asked to take pictures of us. We realised that some brands and agencies were using our photos for their moodboards. We then thought that people use and sell our photos to make money, why not create our own agency and sell our expertise by ourselves. .
You always have ideas in your head and it’s not easy to implement them, it’s easier through an agency that is something concrete where people can understand what you’re doing.
For example, for the exhibition I recently held in Stockholm about my work and African fabrics, our agency did the curation. We mix our brands and our agency to best represent our universes.
The idea behind this agency is to take our universe and our creative know-how with the DNA of others to offer them something efficient. It’s about sharing and collective expression.
AIN : In your concept there is a sustainable aspect that goes against mass consumption, why is this important to you?
Amah : I think it was something natural, having grown up in Africa, we were already recycling a lot, not to mention saving the planet, it wasn’t fashionable. In Africa, therefore, we recycle when we need it, the slightest object that we have used is recycled, whereas in Europe we throw it away. I think this idea of reuse stayed in my mind, as a child I always played with recycled toys, as a teenager, after my arrival in France I took a taste for vintage.
I always say that the idea of up-cycling doesn’t make sense to me because I was already practicing it before the word existed. I was already sustainable at the time when nobody talked about it.
I’ve never liked the mass market, I’ve always liked to mix new and vintage.
It’s part of my DNA and that’s what I defend through my ideas, because it’s not only through clothes that we are sustainable, I like the idea of recycling heritage and that’s typically the case of the Batakali which is a traditional outfit that is hundreds of years old that I recycle by modernizing it.
AIN : There is more and more talk about African designers and the expansion of the fashion industry in Africa, what do you think of the fashion industry in Africa?
Amah : I don’t necessarily feel like I’m part of the fashion world, but I love style, that’s what drives me. It’s through style that I talk to people about vintage and recycling, and it’s also through style that I talk to people about African fabrics.
I like this generation of African designers, who offer very interesting things, there are some very good ones with a totally different look because some of them grew up here in Europe and came back to Africa, others have always stayed in Africa but sell in Europe so it’s very interesting to see that finally today we talk about African fashion but for me it has always existed.
People like Jean Paul Gaultier or Yves Saint Laurent have always been inspired by Africa but have never expressed it clearly, at least not out loud. So for me what’s happening today with fashion in Africa is a continuity, it’s something natural, this energy that has been swarming for some time and it’s coming out.
It also works because we Africans accept ourselves and we are proud of who we are, whereas before that wasn’t necessarily the case, before Africans didn’t dare to say they were Africans, we wanted to look too much like occident and do things that pleased occident. As we accept ourselves today, what we offer is different, our creations now have this African imprint which makes us all the more respected. For me, this is the key to what is happening today.
When you see the young designers from Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast or South Africa who have nothing to envy the Europeans, it doesn’t surprise me that we talk so much about fashion in Africa.
AIN : How do you see the future of Marché Noir?
Amah : I’ve been doing this for 7 years and I’ve never made a website, so between now and November I’m launching the Marché Noir website.
By the end of the year I’m also going to open a small shop in Togo, because being confined there for three months, I saw things differently, even though I go there often, I’ve never stayed there so long before, so I wanted to open a shop there.
And for me the expansion of Marché Noir will focus on vintage and design elements but also do more work with African designers. With Art Come First we are trying to expand our agency in West Africa to work with and represent young African designers around the world.