Naomi Campbell’s decades-spanning career and impact as a supermodel defies labels, but now the British Fashion Council is officially recognising her outstanding contribution to the industry. At the Fashion Awards 2019 on December 2, the Vogue contributing editor will take home the Fashion Icon Award – one of the special recognition accolades that acknowledges individuals who have used the platform lent to them to effect positive change.
“This is a very emotional award to me, I feel blessed and humble,” Campbell told Vogue of the honour. “I would say an icon is someone who has a special aura, but also a presence and wisdom. I have always strived to give people from all backgrounds, all colour and cultures, courage through my words and my actions.”
Since scoring her first shoot a month before her 16th birthday (she signed to Synchro modelling agency at 15 after being scouted after school in Covent Garden), Campbell has pushed for better representation and equality on and off the catwalks. “I used to have to fight for the same fee as my [white] counterparts doing the same job,” she told Vogue in April. Now 49, she conceded that “it’s still not balanced completely”, but her global activist efforts, including the 2013 campaign “Diversity Coalition”, which aims to eliminate racism in fashion, are far from over. On her last birthday, she signed to a new agency, Models1.
Campbell began her philanthropic work with Nelson Mandela in 1993, and in 1997 he named her an “honorary granddaughter” for her endless drive for social change. In 2005, the south Londoner founded the charity Fashion For Relief, which organises fund-raising catwalk shows to aid victims of disasters worldwide, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Haiti earthquake in 2010. After touring the globe, Fashion For Relief will return to its roots – it was one of the major organisations to help people affected by the UK’s 2007 floods – during London Fashion Week in September.
“Naomi has made an incredible contribution to the fashion industry throughout her career as a supermodel, as well as through her global philanthropist work with charities and incredible fundraising efforts for a more diverse and equal future, especially in Africa,” Caroline Rush, BFC chief executive, told Vogue of Campbell’s Fashion Icon Award, which she looks forward to celebrating in December. “Naomi is an incredible ambassador for Africa, building bridges between nations and putting African designers at the forefront of the global fashion community through events such as ARISE Fashion Week in Lagos. She is an inspiration to many of us and has contributed through her career to change for the better.”
Campbell’s mission to push the envelope has seen her sit down with power players in a variety of fields, including Sadiq Khan and Jony Ive, for Vogue, which she first covered in 1987. She was the first black model on the front of French Vogue in 1988 and American Vogue in 1989. “When I was younger, in the 1980s and the 1990s, there were certain designers who hadn’t used models of colour in their shows,” she recalled to Vogue. “Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista would say to them, ‘If you don’t take Naomi, then you don’t get us.’ My friends and comrades stuck up for me and I will never forget that. It is the reason why I’m always incredibly touched when young models of colour tell me that I have inspired them.” Nowadays, she counts exercise and her “healthy body for [her] healthy mind and healthy spirit”. “I know that what comes from within is projected outwards,” Campbell wrote via a personal essay in the July 2019 issue of Vogue.
“There has been so much written about her over the years, but I think many would be surprised to discover how loyal and generous she is,” wrote Edward Enninful in his March 2019 editor’s letter of Vogue, which Campbell covered. “As a friend, she is kind and very sensitive, yet at the same time she is a fighter – Jamaican, a buffalo soldier – who stands up for herself. To me, she will always be a legend, like the last of the silent movie stars: Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Naomi Campbell. With all the flashbulbs, the fashion, the entourages, the jets, the philanthropy, the red carpets and the world leaders on speed dial, she seems to live at twice the pace of the rest of us. All the clichés genuinely do apply to Naomi – you could not make her up and she really is larger than life.”
With a catalogue of campaigns – her portfolio is a veritable A-Z of household-name brands from Chanel to Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Versace – and list of industry accolades – including the Special Recognition Award at the British Fashion Awards 2010 and the CFDA 2018 Fashion Icon Award – already under her belt, Campbell doesn’t need another statuette. The world can see her icon status already radiates from the inside and out.
“I wouldn’t never change a thing,” she mused on the advice she would give her younger self. “I would say to young Naomi, ‘Don’t be afraid to speak out about issues, especially when you come across things like inequality and racism. Make sure your voice is always heard. At the same time, stay focused on whatever you’re doing and give the very best. However big or small the occasion, you never know who is out there.’”
GlennSamm Wins YEA 2019 Fashion Personality of the Year.
Ghanaian walking artist, GlennSamm won the fashion personality of the year category at the Youth Excellence Awards 2019 held at Silver Star Tower, November 16, 2019.
The fashion icon with a tremendous global appeal, known in real life as Glenn Samuel Semakor won the enviable award in a stiff competition that had other equally deserving fashion super-powers in the category.
Addressing the audience and supporters of the event, the Afro-futuristic extended his heartfelt appreciation all his fans and other collaborators within the fast-rising creative hub, Kvngsofthenewschool who helped him attain this laurel.
Glenn further urged his supporters to be on the lookout for new mind-boggling art installations which will transcend the conscious and positive image of Africa to the world.
Senegalese Fashion Designer, Sarah Diouf Vows To Train Local Tailors, Artisans.
Senegalese fashion designer Sarah Diouf, whose Tongoro designs were catapulted to fame after being spotted on Beyonce, has vowed to to expand production in Senegal and train local tailors to translate her brand’s success into jobs for artisans.
Founded in 2016, Tongoro is a ready-to-wear label dedicated to the development of Senegal. The label made headlines last year when Beyonce wore Tongoro patterned dresses and wide-leg pants on vacation in Italy last year.
The 31-year-old Dakar-based designer was then asked to make a custom design for Beyonce, who wore a Tongoro suit and dressed her dancers in its jewellery in her “Spirit” music video for “The Lion King” film.
The Senegalese capital of Dakar is known for its vibrant fashion scene but most tailors are self-taught, work on street corners and have no way to reach a wider customer base.
Rising demand for “Made in Africa” fashion has not yet benefited many people in Senegal, according to Sarah Diouf, who employs only seven tailors so far. With more local training and online sales, she thinks Senegal’s clothing industry can grow.
Sarah Diouf said: “For me, the Beyonce storyline is opening the conversation and opening doors.
“We have so much talent, but I think we just need a little bit more structure to take it to the next level.”
By sourcing its materials from across the African continent and working with local tailors, Tongoro’s long-term goal is to create “a new dynamic for Africa-based manufacturing”, as well as foster the economic and social development of artisanal workers in Western Africa.
After Tongoro was featured in Elle and Vogue magazines, Sarah Diouf recognised its potential to sell worldwide. She plans to scale up next year and eventually open a production facility with 100 to 150 tailors.
She added: “It’s very important for me to create an ecosystem where everyone can benefit from what I do.”
Ghanaian Top Model Prisca Abah Speaks At Sustainable Rice Platform Conference In Thailand.
UN Youth Ambassador SDG 12 Prisca Abah has addressed delegates at the 2nd Global Sustainable Rice Conference and Exhibition held at United Nation Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.
Ms Abah highlighted the best way to involve and engage unskilled youth in the rice value chain which she said is critical for the reduction of poverty in Africa and across the world.
The top model who is also the UN Youth Ambassador talked about Farming families, Training and extension program, senior extension workers and Young field data monitors.
The beautiful Ms Abah has had an amazing experience of working with some of the best designers, photographers and also walks on some of the biggest shows in Africa, including Planefocusgh; Wale Visuals (Nigeria); Jameswyner (Nigeria); Vine imagery; Frame it photography; JoehSey photography; and Dwain Hubbard (South Africa). Ejiro Amos Tafiri; Çharlotte prive; Melanie_Crane; Bello Edu; Nicolinegh; Quophi Akotuah; Adeziwavade; Larry J; Nallem Clothing; among others.
Ms Abah also acquired a few acting skills to her career and has had the chance to work with African Screen legend, Yvonne Nelson on her movie titled – “In April”. She did a commercial with Bismark the joke for Storm energy drink, as well as ‘New Life Cream.’ Ms Abah was granted a diplomatic certificate from World Academy of Human science as a representing spokesperson in Ghana.
She's won multiple and notable awards, such as SSA(South South Achievers Awards )International Model Of the year 2019, GMIA (Ghana Modeling Industry Award)Top Model of the year 2018/2019, GOWA (Ghana Outstanding Woman Awards)Model Woman Of the year 2018 and Afroma Runway/Female Model Of the Year 2017.
Meet The Senegalese Designer Making Math Chic.
Who knew that math and fashion could work together so seamlessly? Apparently Diarra Bousso did, the self-described "Creative Mathematician" and mastermind behind DIARRABLU. The Senegalese serial entrepreneur and multidisciplinary artist left a career of trading on Wall Street to pursue design and it paid off. She has just been awarded a coveted spot as the Designer in Residence at the San Francisco Fashion Incubator for her innovative use of equations and algorithms in her beautiful designs.
The name DIARRABLU is a portmanteau of her own name and the color blue, representing the infinity and abundance of the ocean. The fall/winter collection "Linguère," named for the Wolof word for a royal female, launched earlier this week. Linguère pays tribute to the tradition of strong Senegalese females of antiquity—specifically the Jolof Empire of the 14th century from which Bousso descends. We caught up with her to ask a few questions about what it is like to merge the nerdy with the glamorous.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Nereya Otieno for OkayAfrica: When did the idea to start a fashion line first come to you? Did you foresee it when first leaving trading in Wall Street?
I wanted to have a fashion line since I was very little but it always felt like a far-fetched dream. When I was working on Wall Street, I got even more inspired and excited about the idea. I also was getting more involved in the creative scene through photography and blogging. When I left trading it was with the goal to start a fashion line right away, even though I had no experience in the field back then.
Did the idea of merging mathematics and algorithms with fashion come naturally to you? Or was it more of a stretch?
I always loved mathematics and liked the idea of using geometric shapes and cuts, but the idea of using algorithms didn't come until I joined the Mathematics Education program at Stanford. We had this amazing professor named Jo Boaler and her work was focused on Creative Mathematics. I was like "wow, what a cool way to describe one's work." I started brainstorming in my free time and started toying with the idea of using math in the design process itself and not just the cuts.
After graduation, I started graphing equations, creating shapes and getting really excited. By December 2018, I had generated hundreds of designs algorithmically and decided to work on a collection while in Dakar. We made the first prints and I decided this was going to be the new direction.
So, wait, yeah—how does your process actually work?
I use equations to graph lines, curves, parabolas, hyperbolas, basically anything that can be represented by a math equation and graphed. Then I focus on where those lines and curves meet, which creates kind of random shapes. Then we hand paint those shapes using a color scheme that I've chosen.
What do you think it means to use algorithms in instances of self expression and art?
I think it is very empowering. It is a merger of the authentic and the automatic that can be extremely rewarding. Math is limitless, numbers never end and the fact that it is my tool for creation makes me feel like the opportunities are endless. Sometimes, I can stay up all night after writing new algorithms and experimenting with all the iterations that can come out of it. By just changing one number in your equation of flipping the signs, you get a complete new set of patterns. It is so mind blowing!
Your current collection is meant to evoke feelings of the 14th century Jolof Empire, how does it feel to use such contemporary methods in order to create the past?
I have always been fascinated by the past. Perhaps because it is somehow mysterious and hard to grasp. Growing up, I was always excited to dress up on special days as a traditional Wolof princess. My grandma would share her old clothes and resize them for me and I would get traditional braids and jewelry. I am from the Wolof ethnic group in Senegal and my parents raised us with a lot of cultural and historical references. My dad would always tell us stories about our grandparents and mom secretly thinks she is the style heir of the family.
Revisiting Senegal's past with a collection was very exciting. I wanted to evoke that sense of comfort, freedom and power in traditional wear while adhering to the color palette of the fauna and flora of the Jolof region in Senegal. Clothes are convertible and adjustable just like the traditional boubous and wrap skirts and colors follow an arid climate's palette of camel undertones and green accents. The algorithmic patterns are abstractions of animal inspired prints and have names like Gyraf and Zybra.
What do you think technologies like this mean for the future of fashion?
I think technologies like this have the potential to make fashion more efficient and circular. In our case, designing our prints algorithmically allows us to generate hundreds of options but only printing the ones that our audience responds to via social media. This has allowed us to reduce fabric inventory wastage by 80% and take a closer step towards sustainability.
What's next for you and DIARRABLU?
The focus for me is to use this amazing opportunity to scale with the support of Silicon Valley tech executives through the program and expand both our online and store footprint to be able to reach more consumers around the world. We are also working on exciting initiatives to expand our design universe from clothing and accessories to art and interiors. Finally, working towards sustainability is a big goal for us with a focus on more circular solutions to textile design. I hope we keep growing and sharing our story of the intersection of tradition and algorithms with a larger audience.
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