Africa came to Spitalfields Market this bank holiday Monday, aka the best day in the world as yours truly turned twenty-one. I knew I was going there for the clothes (and the food, but don’t mention that to the dress I have to fit into for Friday’s wedding). It did not disappoint. We were greeted with traditional music from Nigeria, Ghana, and east Africa and dance such as Capoeira – the Brazilian martial arts dance. As we went deeper into the market we were mesmerized by the vibrant African patterns and prints. These prints were moulded into blazers, tops, trousers and dresses, and I found my favourite – a maroon, halter neck, polka-dotted Marilyn Monroe-esque dress perfect for wandering around London in a pair of hot brown wedges. Prints were also emblazoned onto
accessories from sunglasses, earrings, to bangles and head ties.
However, one usually makes the mistake of thinking anything exuberant and wild with geometric, floral and animal print as ‘African’. But today’s lesson is an important one. These prints comes in all sorts of styles on a range of different fabrics, and are found spread across the African continent. From Dutch Java, Ankara and Super Wax to Bogolan, Bazin and Kente, these are just some of the many textiles that weave the fabric of both conventional and contemporary African elegance. While some are printed or woven, others are tie-dyed or hand-painted. These beautiful textures have enabled this so-called ‘African print’ to become a huge fixture within high fashion in the West. It is no longer a surprise that they are seen in many runways in different cities around the globe. Emilio Pucci in his S/S 2014 collection armored his work with abstract tribal patterns, bold shoulders and cropped blazers balancing femininity and fierceness within the urban woman.
Milan Fashion Week was not the only place that saw a wave of African textures. Across the pond, Diane von Furstenberg presented flowing chiffons in soft prints and silk sheath dresses that saw zebras and lions strolling across the planes with a rich sunset backdrop. Her oasis aligned well with the African prints used in her collection. These prints have not only made their way into high
fashion; high street style has also seen an influx in tribal trends and bold textures that resonate Africa profoundly. Topshop, with their printed tapered trousers and River Island’s tribal strappy playsuits all ensure that although the weather may not be as hot as Africa, our clothes and
accessories definitely are. I couldn’t resist a boxed satchel embellished with a bright yellow and brown geometric print, a turquoise print on its flap tinted with metallic gold fabric. Not that one needs an excuse for buying anything that is utterly gorgeous, but in the event that you do want one, it was my birthday… and what is a birthday without a new bag?