Thursday, 5 April 2012

Africa Adorned!

Wow! How exotic!

When we are clothed in a certain way, we have high expectations.  That is to be accepted or treated in a manner that we desire and our clothing has the power to achieve that  before we  speak.   

So I re-visit my library for some inspiration. I love going back to history books that I have collected over the years and  search for a spark of ideas.  I found "Africa Adorned" by Angela Fisher.  It is such a useful book for  any artist to have in their library collection. Well it motivates me a lot.  Not only for inspiration but gives one a wealth of positive insight of what Africa is all about.  From Northern Africa all the way down to South.  It is fantastic!

The author wrote about her fascination with Africa during her first visit to Southern Africa in early 70's. Of course, she did not stop there but travelled to my country Tanzania- in East Africa- where she encountered the famous African tribe- the Maasai warriors. 
Her curiosity made her travel deeper into the heart of Africa all the way to up North; she claimed it was like stepping into a complete different planet. Mhh!   She encountered more diverse tribes, life styles and culture with distinguished and striking customs (in terms of) outstanding tribal costumes, remarkable hair forms, body paintings, and all sorts of decorations that she had never seen before.

"I began to discover that all these exotic fashion - in jewellery, body art, even clothing - were not merely adopted for beauty.  Each Item was of individual significance and proffered a wealth of information about the wear"

Yes! In general we are what we wear and  body language has become a media of expression in its own right.  We call it 'The Language of Clothes' as in a book by: Alison Lurie.

We often identify or send messages by what and how we wear; this is exactly what Angela Fisher encountered so evidently and powerfully may I say, in Africa. 

In my earlier post about Khanga, a native Swahili garment in Tanzania, I referred this as being the cloth that speaks a culture of silence. 

 The language of dress is an automatic one since history of mankind.  Before the so called 'Fashion' or civilisations, people were geographically identified through communication of their traditional costumes, hair styles, body adornment and  body painting.

I have selected other stunning,breathtaking and extremely stylish images from Africa taken by photographer Ken Hanmann and what have I got to say about these images.



Love, Security & Family

Sheer Elegance, Style & Pride

Youth, Beauty,& Pride

oozing with style & poise


Innocence & Purity


Pride & Identity

.........and then there is of course what we call the 'High End Fashion Adorned'! 
Christian Dior, Fall 1999, photos by Annie Leibovitz

Fashion throughout the decades has demonstrated to be an influential force in the establishment and expression of both cultural and personal identity.

Africa Adorned: Angela Fisher
Photos courtesy of :  Ken Hanmann 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

From Sisal to Fashion Apparel

Okay folks!  When you hear about sisal, naturally what comes to mind is agriculture, a commercial crop.  Perhaps your mind will wonder around industrial ropes, low cost, hardware .....well, anything BUT 'glamour'!

I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania,  East of Africa.
As a little girl, I remember looking forward to holidays because it was travel time!  My parents took us  on a vacation to Korogwe and Mheza, in Tanga region, my parents birthplace, to visit our relatives.
 Tanga is located on the coastal strip of the Indian Ocean on the north east of Tanzania.  It is beautiful!.

I remember starting the journey to Tanga from Dar in the family station waggon, at 6am and reached Korogwe, a small town in Tanga by lunch time.  The trip was such fun!
When approaching Korogwe, I was always fascinated to see huge plantations of sisal beautifully cultivated in endless rows. Dad always told us about the history of this cash crop and  use of sisal.

The plantation

Sisal cut and ready to go for processing

 In preparation for further process in the machine called  decorticatior.

Processed sisal hand to dry for exportation.
Visit this site for details.

   Little did I know that one day I would actually create something out of it.  If my Father was still alive today, I know he would have been amazed to see how sisal can actually be so versatile and produce something that is glamorous and wearable.

The Beauty

My fascination with natural fibers, and my love of creating, I dared myself to created something from this fibre.  I enjoy working with ropes, different yarns and strings, so  I went to a hardware shop one day and deliberately searching for sisal rope.  I bought lots of it and decided to dye it in various colours.  Green off course to depict the original colour of the plant, as well as other variety of colours. I got creative and.........this is what I came up with.
Photographed by: Anna Prays

A lil je ne sais quoi !!!

The necless perhaps!

mmmh.... :)  Cape?

Simply Vogue It!!!