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‘Africa: The Fashion Continent’ Averts the Western Gaze

A new book by Cote D’Ivoire-born journalist, Emanuelle Courreges, shines a light on the wave of creativity emerging in the African fashion landscape. Beyond showing some amazing designs, the book aims to illustrate how these works represent a shift in the culture and the dawn of a new era. The book is a timely project, given the fact that designers from various African countries are beginning to gain global recognition: South African designers Thebe Magugu and Sindiso Khumalo have both been awarded the LVMH prize, Cameroonian designer Imane Ayissi is on the official Haute Couture calendar, and Nigerians Kenneth Ize and Maki Oh show at Paris and New York fashion weeks, respectively. But as Courrèges writes in the book, even with increased visibility, African fashion “remains incomprehensible for many.” Another major theme in the book is the way many designers and craftspeople approach sustainability not as a cresting trend to be caught up with, but as an intrinsic part of what people in their communities had already been doing for centuries.