Wakanda and Wax: Promoting the dynamism of African wax print in entertainment and on the red carpet

The fictional nation of Wakanda from the Black Panther movie elicited an overwhelming sense of pride at the immense representation of African wax prints that were showcased on the silver screen – and people loved it!

This article is not an homage to the movie; there has been quite enough coverage of that already and it continues to date. Rather, this article seeks to turn the looking-glass on the unique representation of wax prints such as GTP, Vlisco and Woodin, and the increased appetite for these fabrics on the world stage – and indeed on the ubiquitous Red Carpet.

It is safe to say that the cuts, the structures, the patterns, the motifs – literally the whole ensembles – caused a seismic shift in the perception on African wax prints: from being a staple clothing item worn by traditional African people to a fresh and novel way of marrying ethnicity and style. With the sharp creativity of African designers such as Zambian Designer Kapasa Musonda; Ghanaian Designer Sam Mensah Jr.; Ivorian menswear Designer, Alexis Temomanin; Senegalese Designers Sarah Diouf Selly and Raby Kane, as well as Ivorian Designer Loza Maléombho, Hollywood is fixated on wax prints.

Wherever Hollywood is identified, you find Red Carpet activities close by – as they are highly anticipated fixtures in award ceremonies and entertainment premieres. Our darling wax print has found its way onto the Red Carpet a sweet number of times, and the fabrics have transformed gowns that Disney princesses would envy. The fashion-pieces often court admiration and imbue a sense of pride in the wearer.

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Evidently, the wax print phenomenon has permeated the global fashion industry and is here to stay. There has been an increase in the number of appearances on fashion runways from famous brands.  They are now committed to showcasing the rich culture of Africa to the rest of the world through the innovative manipulation of quality African textiles in their designs.

The reviews from the use of wax prints in western designs are overwhelmingly positive. As the newfound love for prints, specifically the patterns and structure of the fabric, gives designers scope to work with emphasis on form – which showcases the designer’s skill while not interfering with the patterns or motifs. A testament to the fabric’s versatility.

The same can be said of Red Carpet events in Nigeria, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Ghana, as the wax print has increasingly become an important part of many events on the continent. The fashion industry has seen a remarkable change in trends on the Red Carpet. In Ghana today, fashion is predominantly all about the usage of wax print textiles incorporated in styles and designs to create masterpieces.

Traditional textiles are still in great use, as the convey our heritage, culture and our love for the fabric, patterns and colors. However, it is highlights from the glitz and glamour of the local entertainment industry that puts the shine on things. These Red Carpet sessions open the stage for the bold, beautiful, creative and artistic representation of skill and a keen sense of imagination. It is not uncommon for local celebrities and fashionistas to make their fashion statement for their brands and revel in the beautiful, eccentric and colorful masterpieces by equally talented designers.

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Showmanship is the essence of the Red Carpet, and many unique appearances on them have gone down in history as masterpieces and show-stoppers. Whether it is bold, crazy or over the top styles by designers, wax print fashion on the Red Carpet has come as a way of keen expression and a breath of fresh air. Globalization and indeed western culture has played a huge influence in the way we all dress, and Ghanaians have accepted the use of textiles in different styles.

Nonetheless, what is more exciting is the merging of traditional style and materials with western influences in design and silhouette on the local scene, and transposition of the essence of Africa into mainstream fashion on the international fashion stage now makes walking the Red Carpet a worthwhile experience for that famous artiste and those of us at home watching television.

About the Author:

This Article is part of a six-part feature on the local textile industry. It is published in support of the local textile industry and the phenomenal support Ghanaians and Africans are contributing to its continued existence. The Author is a Communications Student at Central University (Ghana), and is a Guest Author writing for Media Republique Communications, a publicrelations, digital communications & business development consultancy. For more on the firm visit www.mediarepublique.com


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