I love collaborations and I found Samsung's #AmazeAfrica show at the recent Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa quite interesting. The electronics giant gathered 14 designers from across the continent under the #AmazeAfrica banner pairing them to produce collaborative collections inspired by prehistoric African fauna and animals. More often than not, they had never previously met their collaborators and had to use technology in completing the task.
Although based in South Africa, Anisa Mpungwe was born in Tanzania. The designer, whose label is called Loin, Cloth & Ashes, was paired with fellow Tanzanian Doreen Mashika whose career as a designer began on her return to her home country after spending time working in Switzerland where she specialised in luxury goods management in the finance sector. The two of them used Skype to execute their collaborative collection.
“It was really challenging. I’ve always been a solo player. I have a team that I bounce ideas with but I’ve never worked with an entity that is totally separate from my own brand and in another country. I think it's a good opportunity to work on a project that is not solely involved with my brand ethos. As an established brand it is rare that you get to do something that challenges you creatively.” Anisa said.
The only way she could think of in communicating her vision to Doreen and vice versa was through fabric. “I didn’t know what her aesthetic was and I doubt she knew mine. We literally spoke through fabric. So I would say something like I am doing some layering with lots of metallics, I am using silk organza and that allowed her to also be creative on her side in order for the whole thing to come together.”
As their inspiration, Anisa and Doreen looked to insects- bees, wasps and ants. Doreen made the accessories and Anisa made the garments using tafetta, silk organza and mesh thereby interpreting the inspiration through colour and texture.
“I looked at how to replicate the surface the insect’s body, for instance; the colour of their wings if they are next to water or if light reflects through them. I found it quite interesting approaching design in that way.”The silhouettes are still very much a Loin, Cloth & Ashes signature but Anisa said she purposely stepped away from the bright and graphic prints her label has become known for.
IMAGES: Samsung Amaze Africa/Steve Tanchel