Enduring Afrochic! I am investigating the historical origins of the fashion trend that had powerful currency throughout the 20th century. And it seems that “exotic” Africa will continue to inspire in the 21st century. Love and Theft! Love and Theft!
Africa Calling: Plumes and Prints
Louis Vuitton, by Marc Jacobs, spring/summer 2014, in Paris.
By SUZY MENKES
October 2, 2013
PARIS — The news of the departure of Marc Jacobs from Louis Vuitton overshadowed the final day of the Paris summer 2014 collections. But people in the audience were reminded of the designer’s exceptional skill at creating great fashion moments by this presentation, all in black, of showgirl clothes.
The models, with their giant Folies Bergère feather headdresses and jet-embroidered chiffon, looked dramatic. But they gave the impression that the party performance was over, not least because bluejeans were often worn under the finery as if the dancers were making their way home.
I have a perpetual love/hate relationship with the love/theft of Africa and blackness, which is why I write about it. Afrochic, the name I have given to African/black-influenced Western clothing, is a trend that has considerable longevity.
Now, Beyonce gets in on the act, again:
Beyonce’s appropriation of this mode, though, is definitely in my highly questionable category. Her deployment of this style has no rhyme or reason to it – especially with the animal print and her blackface photographs from 2011. I never find her original and she certainly displays a lack of awareness of the historical implications of the various memes that she recycles.
Her theft of African material culture disregards the serious and damaging impact of these tropes on Africans and other people of African descent and Africans, who suffer the racism that is often engendered by such imagery. I see simple exploitation for her own gain only and no effort to critique or re-imagine the blithely unconscious manner in which Europeans and Americans appropriated African culture during the height of the colonial era.
I guess she has never seen the work of Yinka Shonibare MBE.