When based in the American Fashion Capital, producing a show that will have an impact seems almost unimaginable. When targeting the fashion industry, the challenge to impress requires planning an over-the top event to top the top. When targeting consumers, New York City’s jaded buyers have seen it all, and making an impression that leads to business success can typically be found in one of two ways: be among the best of the best, or make fashion personal.
The 2017 Master Pioneer Award menswear show opened with the Next Level World Collection. The collection demonstrates the merger of high fashion with creative natural hair styles in black males. Extending back to prehistoric era we have evidence that hair is the most essential and original fashion statement we humans possess. Even before we had the ability to assemble animal hides into clothing, primitive people ornamented their hair.
The integration of hair styles with elegant clothing has been a trend for the past 3000 years. This is especially true for the African continent, where the inhabitants cultivated hairstyles extending 100,000 years back. The emergence of personal style often included the use of natural hair. Nevertheless in the modern era, we, as proud black people, have spent far too long hiding behind our unnatural hair. Like the chains originally clasped to our feet, our straightened, and ironed hair has become the shackles to our beauty and our culture, preventing us from showing our true identity.
Clothing has always however, been a great tool for artistic and cultural expression amongst the African people and their descendants. It is through our established and ever-changing cultural identities (EGO) that fashion is created and disseminated in our communities. It is from this identity of self, this ego, from which we project our image, our culture, and our perceptions, in the form of fashion, and discover our true self hidden within.
“In this show, we want to look back in time, and bring forward the creative strength of our ancestors to fabricate new and bold looks,” says designer Derrick Grant. “We adopted the ancient powerful styles from Egypt and Ethiopia to create bold statements that reach back to this primordial strength from the past. In addition to obtaining our fashion inspiration from our African heritage, we also combine the style of our garments with the structure of Tudor fashion (the conquering Renaissance voyagers of 1500-1600) to produce a new style. In effect, the show is a modern-day attempt to reclaim the dignity of those early African cultures by appropriation of European colonialist style in combination with African clothing. Thus these garments help us to regain strength through-creative reconstruction; i.e., reparation of our cultural-identity by reversing the historical superpower-roles of the Europeans. Thereby, we not only rediscover our identity and our past through our hairstyles, but with the use of new fashion, we are also establishing our future empowerment. Thus, metaphorically we are overcoming our constant struggle as black Americans, by destroying the post-colonial cultural-ego placed on us by the creation of new conceptual fashion that embodies our ancestral heritage in a novel way.”
The Hood Dandy Collection
The Hood Dandy Collection was created by Katiuscia Gregoire, a designer and visual artist whose work examines theme such as gendered roles in society. She challenges representation of gender, sexuality and design manifestations through her creations. She aims to provide provocative counters to stereotypical representations and physical objectifications of such identities.
Gregoire utilizes design, specifically through various textile development and explorations, to represent the unrepresented. Using bold textile motifs and knitwear, she aims to create for a multi-faceted subject for who the constraints of social and gendered expectations are circumvented. The fashion mark created by Katiuscia aids in achieving a passage of awareness and being the path to a more socially-conscious worldview. She holds a BFA in Fashion Design as a Graduate of Parsons School of Design.
Yemi Kosibah Bridal Couture
The bridal finale at the Master Pioneer Award 2017 show was provided by Yemi Osunkoya, the designer behind the KOSIBAH label available for consultations/fittings by appointment in London or on scheduled visits to Lagos, Abuja and the East and West coasts of USA. He established the Kosibah label in London in 1991 and named the company in honour of his mother. The name Cosiba comes from the Republic of Benin and is the day name of a female child born on a Sunday. The team at Kosibah is committed to providing exceptional quality of service and meticulous attention to detail. The designs, made from individual body measurements, use luxurious fabrics, sumptuous embellishments and couture techniques. It appeals to discerning clients who are accustomed to luxury products of the highest standards. Truly a global brand, but the clientele is particularly well represented in the UK, West and South Africa, USA and the Caribbean.
Photos Credit: Yendie Lynch