Showing posts with label ghana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghana. Show all posts

Monday, 30 August 2010

Akwapim Hills


   Aburi, one of Ghana's cuter townships, is favoured as a weekend retreat from the pulse-pounding bustle of Accra and its ever-fractal traffic. It nestles amongst the Akwapim Hills, which provide the benefits of a reasonably high and pleasant altitude, as well as a more moderate temperature. One easily feels at home in tailored linen, mohair, ramie or cotton, reclining on the porch of one of the various colonial or neo-Ghanaian residential forms that dot the area


   The area seems to offer more than one different viewpoint: ex-pats from various walks visit often to meet, discuss, broker and recline. The cleaner air may be more conducive to bonhomie and reason - perhaps it is provable by science

   I just go for the air. And the abandonment


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Outfit - More of The Same

   Another vintage-based ensemble, another Ghanaian wedding, and so it goes:


   With a bonus tribute to The O'Jays (because we would need two more to comprise a Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes homage):

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Print Run

   A sampling of our market-sold fabrics; these prints are intrinsic to the Ghanaian style of dress and cloth wear

   In more finely wrought materials, one could use these to great effect as idiosyncratic upholstery. There's a drawing room in need of these, somewhere:

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Talent Embargo

For I saw this and had high hopes

   Over the weekend, I attended the presentation of a number of indigenous fashion lines as a guest of my cousin, a dressmaker and cutter of no small aptitude herself. Constantly in thrall to my own cultivated cynicism, I nevertheless recognised it as an opportunity to potentially overturn The Dearth that characterises the stylistic modes here. For you see, there is usually more than one way around the pernicious effects of limited resources – I find a large helping of imagination in a vigorous threesome with refinement and wit often carries the day

   I’d certainly venture that selecting the relatively lengthy poolside at an ostensibly five star hotel next to a more appealing beach and serving questionable sparkling alcohol and something I believe to be called “Vitamilk” was some wag’s idea of a gag. The mode parade for the evening consisted of collections from Ghanaian – and the odd passing Nigerian – designers looking to balance the worlds of Necessity and Interest – which is to say, the worlds of Commerce and Craft, which would account for the spectacle of garment-based identity crises I saw. Now, Ghana is mostly a conservative society but when its sons and daughters approach “Baller” status, aesthetic modesty and restraint don’t enter into the uninhibited dive into profligacy that follows. They like it bold, flamboyant and often as tacky as possible, like citizens of most other countries with higher social positions and gatherings that they don’t truly know how to appear for. The difference is that there is a filter missing here that prevents questionable ensembles from appearing as the only option (then again, an import copy of Vogue costs the equivalent of almost £20)

   This attention to decorum applies to organisational structures, for whilst we arrived over an hour late, expecting to miss the speeches and emerge straight into the catwalk, we discovered that there was still another 20 minutes of oratory to be seated for. Also unanticipated was the revelation that the sashaying we were about to witness came with auctioneering as the designers sought different ways to raise their orders (the "Chinese - or was it Indian? - Auction" we later witnessed, which was predicated on the bidders paying the difference between their bid and that of the previous bidder, only sprang to life when the MC raised the bid to a more favourable level, leaving him holding the purse strings for 77 cedis (around $60) in the process)

   There’s always an alarm bell that rings when one attends an invite-only event in Ghana that is non-payable and yet asks for money anyway – there is always a tendency to presume that everyone, no matter what function they are serving in their invited capacity, is Rich. And in a culture that encourages the hire of dancers who expect guests to pay them on the spot, such is anathema to good will, which does help to explain why High Society here is partially founded on peacocking, inverse snobbery and bitchiness

   Even the young fellows proffering distinct shirts, redolent as they were of the long cut, Mandarin collared confections of prime Pierre Cardin, responded to my innocent inquiries about their range, pricing and collection with requests for my phone number – “I’d really feel more comfortable if I had [it]” – and my measurements. The pricing and detailing certainly proved to me that I was on firmer ground with the likes of W.W. Chan and Turnbull & Asser

   Meanwhile, it seemed the intent was that the event be timestretched for as long as possible. Whilst the organisers may have been in thrall to the hotel to add publicity, this was still a mistake, for they were to show enough collections to fill around 3 hours at the least, interspersed with auctions and without recourse to respite. I’ve never been a captive audience member when I can help it, so suffice to say, I left once I’d seen enough. Even so, my critical eye had much to take in

   I don’t demand craft on the level of a Saint Laurent or a Mainbocher or a Watanabe but I’d be curious as to how many women desire to be draped in long, bright yellow gowns with a transparent ribbon panel across the thighs and ornamental bobbles that resemble the haute couture fantasies of a Cantonments prostitute (“ashawo”) with a curious fetish for 1970s British lampshades, nor overly long dresses that sweep the ground with the efficiency of a cleaning unit, the grace of an exuberant shaggy dog moving on its joints and the freedom to hit any and all snags between leaving the bedroom and descending the stairs. Similarly, what male tailoring was displayed delighted in unorthodox cuts but lacked a true intuition in the patterns to create pieces that complemented even the mostly athletic models parading them, whilst continuing to perpetuate the grotesque myth that high shirt collars are flattering to the physiques of African men – our “length cliché” does not at all apply to our necks

   Speaking of which, the choice of models ran the gamut from acceptable to bizarre. Whilst some wholeheartedly captured the android/gynoid inflections intrinsic to this line of work, others interpreted swaggering as shambling and I may never be able to scrub the image of the girl who was half gazelle, half freeloading, bellicose alcoholic from my memories. I remain uncertain as to whether the 5'5" male model was involved to fulfill a proportional representation of some sort, but clothing him in double pleated trousers was perhaps the least of his ensemble's inadequacies. Also to their detriment was the coordination that required one model to wait in full view of the audience for up to 30 seconds at one end of the pool for the other to complete a single walk before taking their turn

   I thought that the magazine sold at the show, “In-Thing Maglogue,” was more valuable than the event itself, primarily because appealing designs could be sought in it, provided I scrutinised closely enough. Priestar Creations, for one, has a certain potential. Nevertheless, this assessment became all the more galling once I’d acquainted myself with various Nigerian labels in 20 minutes of Google searching

   At least I knew where the exits were

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

More Gems of Ghana

   Orleans Designs A/W 2010:

Spicey earthy tones mixed with sharp layers embody the pieces in this  2010 Autumn/Winter JAHAN collection. Orleans Designs continues to contemporise African texutres by fusing it with delicate silks.

Hazel Aggrey-Orleans, the creative force behind the label draws her inspiration from her colourful memories growing up in the culturally dynamic city of Lagos, coupled with her Germanic roots.

West African prints and symbols form the basis of her luxurious silk patterns instead of restricting herself to the traditional cottons.
Of mixed heritage, Hazel has cleverly combined her two worlds into her work. This results in more contemporary garments.

With Hazel’s continued passion for colours, she seeks to create bold unique pieces that cannot be found anywhere else.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Gems of Ghana



   Today, we celebrate our Independence Day - it's 53 years since we went from a colony to a former colony. To commemorate, I've stolen the most interesting fashion material I could discover from Time Out Accra in the name of edification. I got as far as one: Orleans Designs


   Hazel Aggrey-Orleans, who is in fact based in London, produces scarves of silk and dresses, tops and  trousers of vivid colouring and drape, proudly utilising the prints that form part of our native identity and heritage. Their product is playful, coquettish and perceptibly sure of itself; it takes a devil-may-care woman to adorn herself so brightly. Indeed, I look forward to meeting women who do patronise such a proudly homegrown label. The current S/S10 collection is quite the sort of thing that needs to be worn widely outside of Ghana itself; my parents' generation may find it does them proud

   Let's see who will be flying the flag for our artistic side next

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Dearth



   Throughout the year (and, if canny enough, last year), bloggers, journalists and coolhunters have thrilled and trilled to the exploits of the Congolese Les Sapeurs, the funkily dressed flaneurs not far from this corner of the motherland. They've earnt plaudits from Paul Smith, international press and a book of photography by Daniele Tamagni. And they share my penchant for offbeat elegance. But nothing I can say about them would bring anything new to the Google results one can unearth on the topic

   Ghana doesn't really have any such movement, which would possibly be down to the British, rather than French and Belgian colonial occupation and the comparatively relative lack of adversity, civil strife and sartorial aspiration. Ghana's aspirational spirit is more akin to that of Nigeria in that hip hop and the cues of the African American community set the trends. Perhaps the rapper Cam'ron is responsible for my younger cousin, Charles, juxtaposing a purple shirt with a lilac pearl necklace and black jeans earlier this week. I'm almost sorry that there are no photos

   Business dress is simply subdued, baring a few "fun" shirts here and there. TM Lewin, well established in Nigeria by now, set up shop in the 2-year old Accra Mall last year, whilst labels such as Hawes & Curtis, Gucci and Ferragamo have been available to the successful through importing. Yet rarely is a full suit worn during the day; they come out at night if one's old and important enough and they tend to look like slightly gaudy cousins of the classic American Sack

   The closest cousin to Les Sapeurs here is, of course, my father, who is commissioning around 4 suits per year from a local tailor and producing some rather interesting results that I'll photograph when I receive a new camera. But ultimately, he needs someone to pass the baton to. Someone he's trained and nurtured, whose development he has somehow shaped or guided or influenced

   Someone like me? Watch this space



(Oh, and some of the fashion here will merit some future investigation. I really tease, don't I?)

Monday, 14 December 2009

Gone Motherlanding

   For the next 2 weeks, I'll be here:


   And will be doing a lot of this:


 Via Latter Day Saints

   My internet usage will be rather limited, but if anything post-worthy happens here or in my head, I'll let you know

B

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