Friday, August 12, 2011

7 Things I Learned About Fashion in Guinea

The Republic of Guinea
1.  Made-to-measure clothing is a basic human right not a luxury.  
Regardless of socio-economic class, everyone has access to custom tailored garments in Guinea.  The cost is comparable to that of ready-to-wear and it keeps artisans employed. 
 Vintage Topcoat, West African Print Cotton Pants with Oxford Shirt and Kufi
2.  Old Guinean men blend European and traditional African clothing the best.
Shades, scarf, kufi (hat), African print tailored shirt, European pants (tailored, of course) and designer sandals.  Baller.

 Dixinn, Conakry Elders in European and Traditional African Clothing
3.  Rapper 50 Cent has a line of boxer shorts sold in almost every major market in Guinea.  
His name is on the waist band...

 West African Print Cotton Pant Set, Shades and Shoulder Bag
4.  Print and textile design are powerful.
Color, print and pattern have a clear language.  In Guinea the silhouettes are somewhat consistent yet different ethnic groups and territories use varying techniques and imagery to distinguish their work.  Furthermore, European designs reworked in traditional African fabrics are almost completely removed from their original context. 

 Saturated Colors and Custom Tailoring in African Brocade (Bazin) and Wax Print Fabric
5.  The ritual and communal nature of getting dressed.
Women participated in each other's beauty routines.  They tended to one another's clothing, hair and make up and collectively took pride in the result.  

Wedding Party Preparation, Gold Dusted Parts in Hair
6.  Posture is extremely important.
Almost everyone I consciously observed was naturally erect and centered.  This balance gave them an air of regality and confidence which is key to pulling off any look. 

Custom Tailored and Trimmed Lapa and Top
7.  Women's Wear Daily is one of the best fashion publications in circulation.
Their 100 year anniversary edition was my chosen read for the long flight.  Needless to say I studied it front to cover throughout my trip until it practically disintegrated.