Chanel Goes to Africa: Bringing its first runway show to the continent of Africa

It could have gone horribly wrong. If Chanel, one of Europe’s richest luxury companies, had no stores or major operations in Africa and was parachuting into Africa with his flashy one-off fashion display, He may have been accused of colonialism.

Especially given that Chanel does not have a personal history in the region (“I can’t say that Madame Chanel dreamed of coming to Dakar,” says Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s fashion president). ), the fact that it was the first such show in sub-Saharan Africa, and Senegal, once part of the French Empire and now a country with a thriving fashion culture and heritage of its own. Dakar, and the fact that it is the city where the show is held.

Especially after the fashion industry admits its mistakes in diversity, inclusivity, cultural appropriation, and numerous mistakes in this area.

The launch of Chanel Métiers d’Art at the Palais de Justice in Dakar earlier this week ended after a faint response on Twitter, thanks to the Maison’s efforts to recreate the event. Thing.
The three-day festival, which follows Dakar Fashion Week, was designed to highlight the country’s capabilities in art, dance, music and literature, rather than just a fashion parade to lure new customers into spending big bucks. In other words, it’s more a celebration of equality than an exotic shortcut to fresh creativity.

This is important and moves forward if unfinished. But it also spotlights a number of show collaborators, including Senegalese rapper Nicks, singer Aubry Daman, and the nearby École des Sables dance school, placing their connection to Chanel somewhere in the abstract plane of the mind. So it seems that the clothes themselves were the least important thing.

Keep the clothes as they are. In contrast to the obvious, such as traditional Senegalese patterns, materials, or craftsmanship, they reflect his 1970s “his decade of pop, soul, funk, disco and punk” (collection complex It is said to have been inspired by Japanese craftsmanship.

It was created to showcase the works of the various specialist ateliers acquired by Chanel to preserve its know-how, all made in France). After all, it mostly meant… pants. Knits, boucles, flares and denim are often worn with intricately detailed jackets, tunics or blouson his tops.

Designer Virginie Viard can create beautiful traditional Chanel dresses. She’s done it here with lace crochet designs, garden party cocktails for her frocks, and sequined siren evenings for her dresses. .

A beaded vest layered over a bouclé jacket, a neat wrap skirt over narrow knit flares, and a long loose tunic layered over faded jeans and fastened with a gold belt. The layering of clothing was the only creative connection. Between settings and products. Of her 62 models on the show, she was 19 African, 12 of whom were Senegalese. According to Pavlovsky, the make-up and hair crews were roughly evenly split between locals and foreigners.
850 people were brought to Dakar, mostly for clothing, about 500 of them from different parts of Africa.

The purpose of inviting celebrities such as Pharrell Williams, Whitney Peake and Nile Rodgers was to enhance the city’s status as a cultural hub and portray Chanel as a creative of sorts. Kingmaker or Equalizer of World Power?

The lines between the two postures are blurred, which can be uncomfortable (maybe depending on where you’re sitting).

President McKee Sall and Minister of Culture have agreed to support Chanel’s participation in the event. Chanel plans to continue her work with her local talent and in January she will be visiting Dakar for her program 19M.

The official name of the main store of the specialty workshop is 19M, and there are a lot of collaboration works with local embroiderers and craftsmen. It will then form the basis of the exhibition the company will hold in Paris. Their experience in Dakar could serve as a template for future cultural exchanges and collecting activities, Pavlovsky said.

He said, “It’s hard to be creative when you’re trapped in Rue Cambon in Paris.”

Will Chanel invest in Senegal’s specialist textile workshops in the same way as European textile workshops such as Lesage and Maison Michel to preserve its know-how?

Pavlovsky said he has no such plans, but admitted he could imagine the day when it would be feasible.

Despite some setbacks, such as holding the exhibition on the same day as the founding anniversary of the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, the brand now benefits from the doubt, according to curator Oumy Diaw, who attended the exhibition. I’m here. Diaw expressed hope that “this Chanel passage is not a one-hit wonder or opportunistic attempt to bring the vast aesthetic capital of Africa to his house of Western fashion.” its aesthetic capital.

Since Chanel presentations are held in Paris, audiences usually show up appropriately dressed in the most flamboyant boucles, camellias and ropes of pearls. Did.

content courtesy of new york times & NFH

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