African studies is the study of Africa, especially the continent's cultures & societies. The field includes the study of Africa's history, demography, culture, politics, economy, languages, & religion.
“African Studies” is an introspective collection inspired by motifs & references from my own culture, with visual cues I picked up growing up - revised & reworked. The collection has a lot of hidden, often juxtaposed details - masculine wide-leg pants with a side slit that reveals a silky lace-trimmed pant-leg (reminiscent of the piles of slips my gran swore by), garments that subtly ‘rip’ to reveal another garment all together, & pictures stitched into places one might never come across. It’s all quite personal, almost acting as an amalgamation of my environment & memories.
In 2019’s Issue of Faculty Press, also entitled “African Studies”, I noted that the world’s global eye is always roaming – whether its exploring new markets, looking for even more visual cues to add to its referential rolodex or just the next big thing (for a few seasons at least). It has often paid a visit to Africa, always in passing though; picking up a print or a photograph for a mood-board then being on its merry way. But things have changed. The Eye™ is back, but its regard for Africa seems to have changed from a voyeuristic gawp of the exotic to the dazzling admiration of the new. Designers, photographers & artists are using their respective mediums to truly take charge of their own narratives as individuals & as Africans, communicating their unique cultural experience to create forward-looking, novel product & honest work.
With this collection, I wanted to portray my Africa – not the Africa assumed through an auto-exotic gaze.
*“African Studies” was also an exhibition I had at Somerset House during the International Fashion Showcase (2019) , making the collection a 3-part project.
1. RELATIVITY: TOWNSHIP STORIES by Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom,Dung Beetle Dramas, 2006.
2. TSHEPANG by Lara Foot Newtown, Oberon Books, 2004.