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Design and Style - New African Fashion

November 30, 2011

Program Locations:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum

FREE - Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

From Africa-inspired to African-made, New African Fashion is the first book to celebrate a new wave of fashion designers who are emerging on the global stage. Hundreds of vibrant, full-color images showcase the innovative work of emerging designers, photographers and models. Writer, editor and fashion expert Helen Jennings presents the history and future of African fashion, sharing a selection of images from the book.  She is accompanied by illustrious members of the African fashion community, including the duo who make up womenswear brand Mataano, designer Mimi Plange and former model turned model campaigner, Bethann Hardison. Enyinne Owunwanne of African fashion Heritage1960 moderates the discussion.

Ever since the late 1960s when Yves Saint Laurent presented African-inspired collections, the textiles, details, and colors of Africa have moved into the realm of high fashion. In the past few years, young designers from the continent itself have evolved as people to watch in the fashion world. Helen Jennings, editor of award-winning ARISE magazine, offers in this book a brief history of African fashion, beauty and style, and follows its influence on modern designers. The best designers, photographers, and models are spotlighted from across the continent and the African diaspora. Profiling popular lines such as Duro Olowu, Jewel by Lisa, Black Coffee, Ozwald Boateng, Suno and Eric Raisina, Jennings explores the myriad reasons why African fashion is having its moment in the sun. She shows how designers are looking beyond clichés of the African aesthetic by embracing both traditional and contemporary fabrics and garments, and how the passion for ethically and environmentally conscious clothing is fueling this trend. As colorful and exciting as the fashions it features, this volume will appeal to anyone interested in following the world’s most exciting new fashion development.

New African FashionNew African FashionCopies of the book are available for purchase and signing at the event.

Helen Jennings is one of the UK's preeminent fashion journalists as well as the editor of ARISE, the award-winning global glossy celebrating African fashion, music and culture. She has been at the magazine's helm since its launch in 2008. It is now sold in over 20 countries worldwide. ARISE assignments have taken her to Miami to interview Idris Elba, to Johannesburg to shoot with Oluchi Onweagba, to Lagos to hang out with Femi Kuti at The Shrine and to Nairobi to report on Kenya's fashion scene. Jennings studied at Kings College London and over the years she has contributed to such titles as i-D, The Face, Time Out, Neo2, Touch, The Fader, Trace and Oyster. She now puts all of this experience into her first book, New African Fashion.

Brooklyn-born Bethann Hardison was an international runway model in the 1970s and model campaigner in the 1980s, during which time she was responsible for launching the careers of both Tyson Beckford and Veronica Webb. She established the Black Girls Coalition with her close friend Iman in 1988 as a means of championing models of colour and to this day, she remains a fearless campaigner for diversity in fashion. She worked on Vogue Italia's 'Black' issue in 2008 and currently contributes to the Vogue Black website and is working on a documentary project.

Mataano: Twin sisters Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim grew up between Somalia and the USA and currently live in New York. They launched their womenswear brand Mataano (meaning twins in Somali) for spring/summer 2009 and have since showcased their feminine, modern designs in Addis Ababa, Lagos, New York and Johannesburg. They have been interviewed by Oprah and profiled by CNN, Vogue, ARISE and Essence.

Mimi Plange was born in Accra, Ghana and raised in California. She studied architecture and fashion before relocating to New York, where she worked for both Patricia Fields and Rachel Roy. She launched her label (formerly called Boudoir D’huitres) in 2007 offering luxury womenswear inspired by Victorian fashion and her African heritage. She now has retailers on three continents and shows during New York Fashion Week.

Heritage1960, founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Enyinne Owunwanne, is a "one-stop shop for global African fashion and lifestyle brands". Growing up between Kuwait and the USA and being inspired by the Year of Africa, when 17 African nations gained their independence, Owunwanne says "I’m passionate about viewing Africa from a global perspective. Heritage1960 is a celebration of freedom, individuality and style. Everything and everyone on Heritage1960 is connected to Africa someway, somehow. " Before founding Heritage1960, Enyinne worked at WGSN, a leading consumer and trend-forecasting agency. Enyinne's previous entrepreneurial ventures include vintage clothing retailer, Seasoned to Perfection, and pop-up retailer, the Uptown Emerging Designers Market (which The New York Times immediately hailed as “Fashion’s Harlem Address”).  Enyinne graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Fashion Institute of Technology and has studied at Institute Francais de la Mode and Hong Kong Polytech.

Conceived and organized by Arezoo Moseni, Design and Style is a series of events featuring discussions and presentations by leading professionals in the various design fields.