Wednesday, April 14, 2010

African prints, western clothes



Summer is around the corner. Well, not really! But it is getting warmer. I know that people in Texas are already swapping their sweaters for tank tops and their boots for flip flops. As far as I am concerned, I already indulged in some pre spring shopping spree so I will have to lay low for a while. In fact, when my best friend visited me from the UK back in March, I went all out and bought maxi dresses, skinny jeans, belts and sandals. I love the items I got but I think they are not enough to get me through Summer. So, I am already planning for what to get for the upcoming season. And the only things I crave for this Summer are African prints.
For those of you who do not know about African prints, let us just say that they are prints that are colorful,vibrant and exotic. There are several types of African prints:

Bogolan: one of my favorite is a Malian fabric dyed with fermented mud. The Bogolan fabric is very simple compared to other fabric.

Bogolan Fabric:


Bogolan printed skirt available at oli.co.uk


Batik: is a cloth which traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. It was originally from Indonesia but through the years it has spread into Africa in the form of what they call Wax.

Wax Prints


Wax Outfit (top and mermaid skirt)available at modeafricaine.com


Thioup: are fabrics that are hand dyed. They are more a combination of colors although now you can find some with prints. They are more expensive than the previous fabrics

Thioup Print


Thioup Outfit available at modeafricaine.com


Lagos: are almost like Wax but they are of less quality and cheaper as well. The name comes from the Capital city of Nigeria from where they originated.

In my country, you can see these prints every where you look. For casual look, women would wear wrap around printed skirts. Sometimes, we would even wear them for parties. Those fabric were always for what we call traditional attire. However, I remember that growing up, my father would buy the fabrics in bulk and ask our tailor to make European outfits out of them for my brothers and I. It was way cheaper than to buy retail. And since most of the fabrics were in cotton, it was very comfortable.

Nowadays, you can find all kind of African fabrics in western countries. Recently, even certain stars have been using them in their video or for daily wear. They are setting a trend that is soon to be followed in mainstream America (if it has not already).

Kimora Lee in Kevan Hall


I have been in love with African prints for a long time. But I really appreciated it when I moved in Japan. Being black, I was always a rare thing there. Japanese people tended to ask me several questions about my country and my culture. It was always a pleasure to share some of it by showcasing my outfits. I started to enjoy dressing in my African prints. I would wear maxi skirts or dresses to school and instantly draw attention around me. Over the years, I have been collecting African prints attires just in case I was invited to a party.

As for now, I am looking for something more casual (because I cannot wear my fancy traditional African attire to the mall). I have an idea of where to go in the States to find some African prints. Anthropologie have been showcasing some cute dresses and rompers in African prints. I also know of a designer- contestant of (Project Runway knock off) the Fashion Show, Anna McCraney who did some nice dresses like that as well. My favorite so far has been designer Maya Lake who made the rompers and skirts Alicia Keys and Beyonce wore in their "Put it in a love song" video. The silhouettes are very feminine and the African prints add a tad of sexiness to it all.

Boxing Kitten outfits for the "Put it in a love song" video:


There you have it. My plan for this summer is to get (more) African print dresses and skirts. However, instead of investing my money on designers, I will design them myself and find a good tailor. Because let us face it, who better than African tailors to make me an African print dress?

What I want
- maxi dress:
You know I adore maxi dresses. Since last summer, I have been dreaming of a maxi dress in exotic print. I saw many styles back at home. But since, I was pregnant, I was not really in the mood to have a dress made that would not fit after I gave birth. This summer, I will go all out. And I already have a source of inspiration. Have you ever seen Erikah Badu's Tyrone video? Remember the gorgeous full skirted dress she was wearing? Well, I want one just like that.

Erikah Badu in "Tyrone"


-maxi skirt:
I used to own a maxi skirt in blue and red when I was in college. I loved riding my bike with the skirt. It was gorgeous. I got rid of it because I was getting big around the stomach. I will make another one just like that or maybe with an elastic waistband just in case I gain weight.

- African traditional attire:
My father works in Congo where you can find all kinds of African prints for nothing. He usually sends a lot back home for my mother and I. I already had two made into full blouses and assorted long pencil skirts. I want some more to make similar outfits because they are very comfy and classy back home.


More info
About Wax
http://thewrendesign.com/2008/07/10/the-story-behind-african-wax-print-cloth/
About Maya Lake
http://www.boxingkitten.com/
About Anna MacCraney
http://annamccraney.com/

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