Distilling an entire continent’s fashion output into a single book is no mean feat, unless, maybe, you were compiling a monograph on Antarctica. And even then – have you, like, seen the science station Canada Goose jackets? For her first hardback, though, journalist and LAGO54 founder Emmanuelle Courrèges has opted instead to document Africa’s creative diaspora, telling the story via three hundred gorgeously printed photographs and generous blocks of text.
Courrèges’ catalyst for the project is one of timeliness; she sees Africa’s fashion scene as currently blossoming thanks to international interest and a new vanguard of aesthetes. So much so, the book is sectioned into a heady array of different disciplines – street style, haute couture, sustainable fashion and so on – grouping together designers, stylists and image makers in glorious technicolour.
p. 159: TSAU—The Space Around Us (brand created by Bevan Agyemang). © 2019 Bevan Agyemang, TSAU. All Rights Reserved. p. 163: Erykah Ijeoma Achebe, self-portrait, 2020. Hair: Wow African Hair Braiding. © Erykah Ijeoma
Her thesis? That the continent’s mode is one of sharp humour and brave designs, revitalising regional traditions with a newfound energy. Dozens of game-changers are showcased throughout – LVMH Prize winner Thebe Magugu, Ivorian headdress designer Lafalaise Dion, Nigerian photographer Steven Tayo, Cameroonian couturier Imane Ayissi – ready to become bookmarked, researched and integrated into your future moodboards.
“At a time when many talented African designers are gradually making their mark on an international scale, and as the spotlight shines more intensely on this “fashion continent,” I saw the need to provide some keys to understanding it, by allowing those who embody African fashion to have their say—or at least a few of them,” Courrèges says. “This book is a tribute to them; it captures a moment in History, and presents a creative, engaged generation that is changing fashion as we know it.”
p. 140: Karim Chater (Style Beldi). © Mohcine Harisse.
We’ve had a peek at the whole thing and the range of imagery is properly dazzling; tactile, ultra-vivid images are barely restrained by the ink, transcending their two dimensions in style. We’re also mega fans of the sustainable fashion section, shining the spotlight on African designers putting ethical production at the forefront of their labels. Sure, this is ultimately a coffee table book, but it’s equally a whole lot more than that, something to devour rather than lazily scan with glazed-over eyes – reserve those for the Antarctica version sometime in the future…
© Africa: The Fashion Continent by Emmanuelle Courrèges (Flammarion, 2022) is published on 10 February 2022, retailing at €60.
p. 106: XULY.Bët (brand created by Lamine Badian Kouyaté), modeled by Chrystèle Saint Louis Augustin for Ubikwist magazine, July 2020. Styling: Jenke Ahmed Tailly. © Marc Baptiste.