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Traditional African woman fashion

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African-Clothing-New-York-21Firstly what defines Africa? Zina Saro-Wiwa a journalist and film maker did a documentary called This is My Africa that was broadcasted in the united states in February 2010.(theafricanreport.com). This documentary revealed personal experiences about African culture across the continent approximately over 20 Africans and people that were intrigued by Africa were interviewed. John Akomfrah described the documentary, as “anarchy of the imagination”. According to this review (written by Billie, 08 April 2010), culturally Africa, was not once interpreted by these interviewees as the same thing or as something specific. The point being it is impossible to define an entire continent in one particular cultural rank. So how can one define African fashion as such?

In The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture by
Victoria Rovine she says that “While African dress has been the topic of much research and popular fascination as an element of “traditional” African cultures, the work of professional African fashion designers in contemporary Africa has received very little attention”. According to Global Fashion/Local tradition by Jose Teunissen fashion is never based on fixed principals handed down in a particular culture and “fashion adheres to nothing. “Art or exotic cultures are bent to its will”(Barthes1967: 33). So how is it possible that western fashionable culture still believes that all African fashion is directly linked and one culture of insparation? according to Thennisen craft and tradition play a major role in design when western fashion designers use Africa as their inspiration,but has it come to a point were its been over dramatisised and been taken for granted that a bit of wood and animal print is automatically “African”. Chido Nwangwu (1997), founder and publisher of the first African owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet says that there is one thing that most African commentators agree upon and that is that Africans must take responsibility and that they way their continent is portrayed is up to them. She goes on to say that “’for far too long, a majority of Africans have been indifferent to misrepresentations about who they are. They have remained ‘objects’ of the ill-informed caricatures of a once glorious heritage disfigured by colonial and post-colonial predators.”

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