Made in Africa, Shown at Bryant Park
Henry Jacobson spent most of Fashion Week following the work of up-and-coming African designers.
Documentary work and fashion photography are worlds apart. One is serious minded and borderline bookish; the other is all flash and fab. They’re not meant to be bedfellows, necessarily, but can often lead to visually arresting expository work. Photographer Henry Jacobson walks that line continually in selections from the series shown here, documenting three African designers (Black Coffee, Loin Cloth and Ashes, and Deola Sagoe) who were selected to participate in the Fall/Winter 2010 Mercedez Benz Fashion Week.
Tanzanian, South African, and Nigerian designers were chosen by African-themed style and culture magazine Arise to showcase their unique lines within the magazine’s third annual African Collective runway presentation. Jacobson followed the designers’ journey as they prepare for their runway debut in the Big Apple. Alongside model Frances Parsons, Jacobson shot Face of Africa winner Lukando Nalungwe in her first American editorial, just after her first major fashion week, walking for LCandA.
For the Tanzanian Loin Cloth and Ashes designer Anisa Mpungwe, her one dream was “always to show my work in Africa. I would have never for one minute thought that I would ever show overseas, let alone in America,” she said. For the event, Bryant Park’s largest venue, The Tent, was transformed into a “living African landscape” inspired by award-winning, Nigerian poet Ben Okri. With African prints and influences popping up in last year’s runways via Galliano and Marc Jacobs, it’s refreshing to see African designs directly from the source. The event, in addition to drawing attention to African style and fashion design, will also hopefully draw investors to the different thriving areas within the continent.
Photos by Henry Jacobson: backstage at the show (top, bottom); a selection from the editorial shoot (middle); Tanzanian Loin Cloth and Ashes designer Anisa Mpungwe (middle). Guest writer Charlie Fish lives in New York.