Saturday, September 17, 2011

NYFW Spring 2012 - Asibelua Made In Africa RTW Runway Review

Total looks: 20

Accepting the mantle for re-defining African fashion on the global stage where Africa is sometimes relegated to wild prints and safaris, is Asibelua. It's what, in one sense, several African designers have quietly accepted to do, but Asibelua has  been bold about embracing the opportunity and taking on the challenge as a specific and guiding end goal.

For Spring, Asibelua takes the ancient art of tie and dye and injects it with movement and modernity through the use of silk, retaining its traditional sensibilities through colour choice (deep indigo and purple, chocolate brown) but sprucing it up with a graphic, contemporary quality. Audacious (but ultimately well-played) pattern play erupted, like interlocked splitting amoeba cells dotted with brown showing up as roomy blazers, dresses and a pencil skirt, resulting in a refreshingly comprehensive - and cohesive - range of options.

Black, white and yellow checks and plaids gave the illusion of iridescence and vanishing dots, a blue tunic referenced Zebra print without being blindingly obvious, and tame leopard-inspired print jackets and tops said Africa where others might have screamed. Sporty chic seeped through via pedal pushers, but a delightful melange of dresses (and one floaty tie-and-dye caftan) ranging from chic belted sheaths to expertly arranged panels and contrasts stole the spotlight. Pants were sharp and bold, and tops came in tube, airy blouses and camisoles, further breaking pieces up before tying them together with belts. The overall mood exuded chicness and occupied the small space between restraint and total freedom - hems were below the knee in some looks, above in others, and necklines ranged from round to dipped vs.

With the array of colours (such as a dominant orange and turquoise motif in a wax print-like motif, and yellow highlights throughout, showing up predominantly as belts) and the remarkable range of options, from a floor length plaid skirt to a tie dye cardigan, Asibelua has proven a clear point in tackling multiple elements with skill - Africa can influence in a practical way and the balance between traditional and contemporary can reference both elements equally without drowning one out. A remarkably intelligent runway debut with a strong, clear voice and direction.

- SLiq

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