The glories of African design, from vibrant patterned prints to regal embellishment, are yet again influencing the arts.


Fashion is once again tapping the great African continent for inspiration, from Givenchy’s mosaic-print jersey dress (left) to the geometric tapestry on a new Burberry Prorsum bag (bottom right). In the 1970s, the Somali supermodel Iman was photographed for Vogue in resplendent attire (center left). Her regal pose is echoed in Jean Dunand’s 1926 portrait of the French milliner Madame Agnès (center right), draped in patterns reminiscent of the beadwork worn by women of the Samburu tribe in northern Kenya (top right).


The art of body painting, seen on the face of a child from Ethiopia’s Omo Valley (left) and in the Ghanaian artist Owusu-Ankomah’s 1992 painting “Jumping Jack” (bottom right), is a sacred means of expression within many African tribes. While the paint is thought by some to ward off supernatural danger, embellishments like cowrie shells, often worn as jewelry, are also used by West African priests in divination rituals. Decoration and color contrast, both of which are deeply rooted in tribal traditions, have been appropriated by way of Alexander McQueen’s beaded cutaway dress (center) and Dries Van Noten’s heeled sandal (top right).


The dizzying prints found in Edun’s revamped line (left) were the height of fashion back in the 1920s, when Man Ray photographed the British heiress and writer Nancy Cunard in a daring look accented by bracelets stacked in the African style (top right). In the village of Tiébélé in Burkina Faso in West Africa, women decorate the facades of their homes with strikingly similar black and white motifs (top center), versions of which were borrowed for Diane von Furstenberg’s spring collection (center right), a ceramic vase from Creatures of Comfort (bottom center) and a woven basket by Design Afrika (bottom right).


Repeating geometry, often a signature of African design, is seen in prints for Duro Olowu’s fall collection (left), a sable tureen sculpted by the South African artist Sabelo Khoza and painted by Virginia Xaba (bottom center) and the ceiling of the contemporary architect David Adjaye’s Asymmetric Chamber pavilion in Liverpool (bottom right). Complementary angular dimensions can be found in Pierre Legrain’s Chaise Africaine from the 1920s (top right) and, more recently, in Donna Karan’s leather pendant necklace (top center).

source: New-york Times

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