Custom made clothing or as the French like to call it “haute couture” has been done in Ghana for centuries, where women and men take fabric to their local seamstresses and dressmakers and have clothes for all occasions sewn to fit them perfectly. This way of getting clothing was the foundation of the fashion industry in Ghana, but in the last two decades things have changed drastically. With styles getting more complicated, requiring trained skill and an innate talent; the need for schools teaching fashion design and individuals with true artisitic talent attending them, has ”changed the name of the game.” From signature Kente cloth sewn into regal gowns to African wax print cloths that are used to make everything from skin tight party dresses to suit separates; Ghanaian designers juxtapose tradition and modern day “Ready To Wear” fashion in a uniquely African way. But beyond the use of our traditional cloths with vibrant colors and intricate patterns, Ghanaian designers have also been creating clothes with tulle, silks, cotton, chiffon, etc that would rival any of the up and coming designers that showed at this springs NY Fashion week.
Its time for the world to recognize the talent coming out of Ghana, and for emerging stars like Aisha Obuobi and Brigitte Merki with strong artistic opinions, clear visions and the dream to see their clothes in countries around the world, its only a matter of time. And lucky for you, I have the inside scoop…
My aunt Joyce Ababio happens to be one of the most successful fashion designers on the African continent. A true pioneer in the world of Ghanaian and African fashion; her clothes have been shown at various fashion weeks all over Africa. Her gowns were the “go to” for African Miss World contestants, diplomats and celebrities; and now she specializes in one of a kind pieces for specific clientele (when she’s not running her school the Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design). Take a look at some of her designs below!
In this post I will take you from class at Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design,” to the runway of the 2010 graduating class, to the designs of Ghana’s top designers (who by the way also happen to be graduates of my aunt’s school) and finally a quick look at International fashion powerhouse Ozwald Boateng . So let’s begin!
When I visited Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design (VSSFD) the morning session students were lined up with their designs to face the critiques of Ms. Joyce Ababio. Only being in school for a little over a month, this was the 2nd design they had created since their admittance, and as such were not being graded on their design but how well they put their garments together. Once they received their critiques and a grade for their garments, they marched up to the next floor to “work the runway” for their fellow peers. Claps, screams and words of encouragement could be heard from where we were a floor below, purging any nerves they had while presenting to Ms. Joyce Ababio aka “Auntie.”
*Below are pictures of the students presenting their designs to recieive their critiques.
It’s amazing what they were able to create for being at school for only a few short weeks, isn’t it? During their one year intensive course they learn everything from Fashion Design, Pattern Drafting and Clothing Construction to Business Management, Fashion Illustration and much more. Not only helping them learn everything they need to know about creating well made clothes, but also making sure they stay on top of current fashion trends, understand different styles of dress and cultivate their own artistic point of view.
After a full year at VSSFD, students are truly given all of the tools they need to become fashion designers. Here is a look at some of the work from recent graduates.
Now its time to examine some of Ghana’s emerging stars.
A 2008 graduate of VSSFD, Brigitte Merki launched her label “BM” in February of 2010. Specializing in bridal gowns and evening wear, Brigitte creates magnificent dresses that portray female sensuality and sexuality in just the right doses. These dresses fulfill the desires of any “girly girl” that wants to feel like a “Cinderella” for an evening. But her ready to wear line ”Angel Dust” is where she truly shows her versatility as a designer. With designs ranging from edgy to preppy, the young 20 something that needs an outfit for work, dinner then the club; can find all the styles she needs in this collection. Brigitte’s Label has already attracted many followers, young and old, though it was just launched last year… and its showing no signs of slowing down. Checkout more of her designs at the links below!
Angel Dust Collection:
All other Collections:
Aisha Obuobi graduating in 2008 from VSSFD has achieved a great deal of success and respect for her label “Christie Brown” in a short period of time. Her label aims to “cultivate a fresh appeal for african prints…to celebrate them in a new way”…and she’s achieving just that with her ultra feminine designs (www.stylehousefiles.com). She won the “Emerging Designer of the Year award” at the Inaugural Arise Africa Fashion week in Johannesburg South Africa and was the only Ghanaian designer to show at Paris Fashion week as a part of l’Arise Afrique a Porter in 2010. Her clothes are not for “the faint of heart,” projecting power and poise to anyone that puts on her designs, her pieces are meant to make you stand out. With perfect construction and an enviable balance of tradition and modernity, Aisha Obuobi is one of my new favorite African designers! Take a look at some of her amazing creations…
*Pictures courtesy of google images
*Pictures from L’Arise Afrique a Porter
Checkout more on Aisha Obuobi at http://christiebrownonline.com/
Last but not least, Mr. Ozwald Boateng….
World famous for his impeccably tailored suits, he has already gotten the attention of celebrities around the world. Don Cheadle, Lawrence Fishburne, Mick Jagger and David Bowie, have all walked down a red carpet in one of Mr. Boatengs designs. A contemporary approach to menswear, Mr.Boateng constantly re-invents the man’s suit in subtle yet daring ways. Undoubtedly, he represents the pinnacle of success for all emerging Ghanaian designers.
*Pictures courtesy of www.ozwaldboateng.co.uk
Almost done ….
Women and men still take fabric to their local seamstresses and dressmakers, but they emerge with styles that reflect popular trends and bring out their inner fashion designer (shoulder pads and puff sleeves were rampant at the Ghana Music Awards in April). So for my final installment on Ghana fashion I wanted to show you just how “fly” current Ghanaian dressing can be!
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