We’re quite enjoying our new residency at The Artworks, London’s new hub for unique creative independent brands. One of the best things about it is being able to collaborate with the like-minded people we share the space with.
And so it was that we collaborated with A. Dee, a well-respected contemporary artist who’s now based at The Artworks, to create the backdrops for our Winter shoot. The challenge was not only to create backdrops inspired by the textiles and pieces being modeled, but to do so in a modern street art fashion, spontaneously – on the spot – as the shoot happened. No pressure.
The renaissance of African textiles is continuing apace, and it’s great to see it featured in collection after collection on the fashion week runways, popular high street store and being donned by celebrity style leaders like Rihanna, Anna Wintour and Beyonce. I have every confidence that African inspiration will be a permanent feature in one way or another in fashion circles. And we haven’t seen the best of it. Right now, the love affair with African textiles is focused on what is commonly known as ‘wax print’ or ‘ankara’, but there’s a host of other types of heritage textiles waiting for their moment. And that moment will come soon.
Our challenge at Sapelle is to seek out and showcase designers who are innovating with all manner of African textiles, ranging from numerous hand-woven variations, dyed using diverse traditional techniques, beaded and printed in styles other than what’s currently in the spotlight. We do love us some Ankara, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what other treasures can be found around the continent.
And that’s why we’re thrilled to introduce brands like Raffia, an ethical label based in Ghana, using handwoven fabric, woven into strips on traditional looms using locally sourced organic cotton. These strips are joined and tailored into pieces that are surprisingly cosmopolitan. We’ve seen Kente woven fabric from Ghana, but this has a different aesthetic that is perfect for an urban wardrobe.
Our collaborator on this shoot, A. Dee, or The Artful Dodger, is widely credited with being one of the first aerosol writers to come out of the UK in the 1980s, making the successful transition from the streets to the corporate world, designing corporate identities and canvases. He’s worked for brands like LucasFilm, BAA Heathrow Airport, MTV, The South Bank Show, and Weetabix, as well as having painted numerous backdrops, album sleeves and logos for music acts and record labels.
A. Dee has set up shows, produced documentaries and also runs workshops for young people up and down the country, including a recent collaborated workshop at The Artworks to design a piece of art inspired by textiles provided by Sapelle (more to come soon, we hope!). We were excited to see what A. Dee would come up with, and we were thrilled by the results.
What was most interesting was seeing textiles coming from a very traditional context that is very far removed from the world of contemporary street art, come to life – and look great – not only in our fashion garments, but on canvas as well. See if you agree.
It was a hectic day, as we battled against the short winter daylight, but we’re pleased with the results. The brightly-coloured shipping containers that make up The Artworks did their bit to add to the vibrant contemporary scenery
Take a look at the images taken from the shoot. See the full collection on our website here.
Photos: Emerzy Corbin
Makeup: Mya Minerals
A. Dee contact: adee001 AT hotmail.com