Lagos was the cradle of African fashion a few weeks ago, hosting 2 big fashion shows. Lagos Fashion Week Nigeria (23 – 25th March) Arise Fashion week 2018 (31 March – 2nd April). There was of course, the vibrancy, craftsmanship and distinctive style that has become ubiquitous over recent years in the African fashion industry. Images which only would have been available via fashion outlets are easily accessible anywhere in the world on social media (as you’ll see below).
During Arise Fashion Week 2018, the supermodel legend that is Naomi Campbell said the renowned fashion publication Vogue Magazine should be launched in Africa.
“Africa has never had the opportunity to be out there and their fabrics and their materials and their designs be accepted on the global platform … it shouldn’t be that way.” – Naomi Campbell
We’ve heard the reminder many times that “Africa is not a country”. When we dissect the continent’s textile heritage, we find there are beautiful fashion and style nuances across the continent. While I agree that the evolution and heritage of African fashion should have a dedicated global fashion platform showcasing to the world, it should be born and pushed by Africans – those on the continent and from the diaspora. Just like European fashion is controlled by Europeans.
Any African fashion publication must be sewn together with an integrated narrative identifying the contribution of each African country. It’s about time that African countries develop and control their own narratives without the, filtration and stamp of approval from Western fashion establishments, who have made fashion and style prestige synonymous with Western culture.
The fact that there is no Vogue Africa Magazine is an OPPORTUNITY, let Africa dictate her fashion industry in her own words and realise herself for herself!
Don’t get me wrong I was all here for Edward Enninful and Virgil Abloh rising to coveted gatekeeping positions in Western fashion establishments of British Vogue and Louis Vuitton, but I think it’s time in 2018 that Africans do not wait for the approval of Western fashion establishments to validate their fashion heritage and existence.
However, I think in 2018 African countries should take their fashion destiny into their own hands and be the global gatekeepers of African fashion and heritage. It can be done, yes creating a fashion publication costs money but there are very talented people in Africa and the diaspora that can make this happen and create jobs on the continent.
This is what we should be pushing for (just as is done in Europe) – African fashion controlled and narrated by Africans.
Nykhor Paul’s Instagram post probably made some so-called make-up ‘artists’ blush when she put them on blast a few days ago! The South Sudanese model has put race and make-up back on the catwalk in a post she put on her Instagram page: @nykhor
Dear white people in the fashion world!
Please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up wtf!
Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue blackits 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Cliniquecarried them plus so much more. There’s so much options our there for dark skin tones today.
A good makeup artist would come prepared and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously! Make an effort at least!
That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Townplus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones.
Just because you only book a few of us doesn’t mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. I’m tired of complaining about not getting booked as a black model and I’m definitely supertired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racistit should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?
There isn’t much I can really add to this apart from, YES! Nykhor Paul sums up the frustrations of many women of colour (WoC) with vivid memories of scouring make-up counters for products that complement their shade but to no avail.
Within the mist of this ethnic beauty discourse, it’s important to remember that make-up does not make women beautiful. Confidence and embracing your own natural beauty is the foundation; make-up just enhances natural beauty (which is already present) and is fun to experiment with it.
I don’t wear make-up often but I do have those memories of walking into stores, seeing a shade and hoping it will compliment me. I’ve sat in the make-up chair (as you do) allowing the shop assistant to brush all over my face and then it comes…. that sinking feeling when the mirror is flipped around and I think; “this looks terrible”.
There has been an increase in brands catering for darker skin tones but due this frustration, I became numb to make-up adverts; experience has taught me that ‘I don’t really fit’ with many of these products.
However, one of my clearest memories of make-up advertising that made me actually walk into a shop and spend money without hesitation was as I strolled through Herald Square in NYC, and saw an advert for Maybelline with Jessica White. When Lupita Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme, a brand which had never even entered my mind (to use for myself) i thought “hmm that looks good on her, so it could look good on me too”…
Two years ago Jourdan Dunn, who earlier this year became the first black model (since Naomi Campbell in 2002) to have a solo cover on UK Vogue Magazine, spoke about how a make-up artist felt uncomfortable doing her make-up because she was black. Like any profession make-up artists should hone their craft, especially if working in the international fashion industry and should be prepared to work with all types of models. View the video below from 7:28 seconds:
Nykhor Paul’s condemnation is of make-up artists who are supposed to be at the top of their game, highlights the psychological hurdles black models face when going to fashion shoots, where they have to worry that a make-up artist will prefer not to work with them making them feel that there are ‘wrong’ in some way, where their white counterparts can just turn up, without that extra worry. It’s a psychological slap in the face for WoC who have to become adept researchers when buying make-up, otherwise left feeling like they are the problem, their skin is wrong because it doesn’t fit. Any woman can feel like this regardless of social status.
In a recent article by Reni Eddo-Lodge in Stylist Magazine, I came across the UK based website Brown Beauty Talk providing a platform where WoC can find, make-up tips, events and much more. Sites like this can be a saving grace, providing a space where WoC don’t have to apologise for the ‘inconvenience’ of the skin tone. In the same article, Stylist declared their beauty pledge, promising to work with modelling agencies to ensure that women who appear in the magazine have a variety of skin tones and hair textures. To do this, they want OUR help; by telling them how this can be achieved (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Just like Nykhor Paul and many women who have spoken out about this issue, the rest of us need to do the same, if we don’t nothing will change.
Even if the beauty industry starts to listen by adding more variety to their palettes, this ‘problem’ can become an opportunity for WoC to empower themselves:
Become the cosmetic scientist who develops beauty products…
Become the make-up artist who applies these beauty products…
Create the magazines and forums which discuss these beauty products…
Set up businesses that sell these beauty products, creating reasonable prices for the consumer…
One of the basic concepts of economics is supply and demand. When a product such as foundations for darker skin tones is scarce, but demand is high, the the price of that product will be high. This is why many WoC, complain about having to spend more money on premium brands who provide suitable products. If supply increases to meet demand over time, prices for the consumer will be more competitive.
It can be done.
Whether it’s foundation, blush, face powder, lipstick or eye shadow the demand has and always will be there so there is no excuse for darker skin tones to be ignored. The belief is that black goes with anything, but will the beauty industry ever fully embrace women of colour? Maybe black isn’t always in fashion afterall.
If you’ve been searching for the right shades for your skin tone then I would say YouTube should be your new best friend (if it isn’t already). Here are some beauty vloggers with tutorials for WoC, and there are lot more on YouTube:
So this is what is on the catwalk now, but who knows what it will be next year? Either way we’ll be there for more inspiration to develop our own personal style. In the words of the fashion legend that was Yves Saint Laurent (1936–2008) –‘Fashion is fleeting, style is eternal’. A new film about the designer’s life debuts in UK cinemas on 21st March 2014.
Fashion Week season is upon us; New York started off the proceedings on 6th February and is passing on the fashion baton to London on Valentine’s Day.
I’m looking forward to what London has to offer, there are various designers on the roster including model turned men’s shoe designer Armando Carbral (Guinea-Bissau) and one of Fashion’s favourite son’s Tom Ford (United States).
East London’s finest, Nigerian model Betty Adewole was scouted in London at age 17, and the rest they say is ‘history’. Betty was unveiled as the new face of Tom Ford cosmetics earlier this year and booked to model in all four fashion weeks – NYC, London, Milan & Paris! In a recent interview, when compared to Naomi Campbell, Betty responded with true Nigerian confidence by replying, “She’s an amazing model but I’m very different. I’m Betty Adewole.”
Let’s hope London Fashion Week 2014 will be as bold and hopefully diverse. Get ready all you fashionistas! …
As someone who does not wear make-up often, I was hesitant to write on this issue but realised that the inside knowledge of a Make-up Artist is not required here; so please read on :-). I came across an article in Pride Magazine recently, with the title: ‘Are make-up companies doing enough to cater for black skin tones?’ In my head I said no straight away, and went on to read the anecdotal article where the writer could not understand why it was always a challenge to find make-up shades for her brown skin, but her white friends had a plethora of choices: The writer recollects the common phrase shop assistants would use, ‘Yes, we go quite dark in our foundations’.
You may say, ‘isn’t this and old issue?’ The answer to that is yes, it was even covered in a Guardian article in 2011, but not much has changed. There has been some improvement though, but probably not enough.
Something similar happened to me recently when I went to buy some Tea Tree body wash from the Body Shop. Yes, I went to buy body wash and a shop assistant was trying to sell me make-up (that’s always the way I guess).