African wax prints are certainly head-turning garments wherever they are worn in the world, and judging by last week, Paris is no different.
The cream of the fashion world gathered in the French capital for seven days of catwalk action, business meetings and after-show parties, but it was an Indian designer’s use of wax prints which caught the eye of many of the fashion press and casual observers.
Africa Influences Fashion
For the Mumbai-born Manish Arora, Africa Fashion and Americana were huge influences as he showcased his women’s collection to adoring onlookers. The ‘Hell’s Belles’ show had a Wild West theme, but that didn’t stop it making use of African wax prints wherever possible. One Arora idea which was highlighted by many of the international press pack in attendance was the use of wax prints on denim jackets and skirts, bringing them to life in an attention grabbing way.
According to the AFP agency, who reported on the show: “With his newly awarded Legion d’Honneur – a kind of French knighthood – in his pocket, the designer cut loose with Day-Glo colours and prairie skirt combinations that were made to party.”
And Arora himself gushed: “I am the first Indian creative to be rewarded for fashion and arts in France. It’s exceptional, it took a long time to sink in. Trust the French to find you and tell you that you deserve it.”
African Fashion is Taking Over
The news follows last month’s Wunderkid show in Milan, where the label’s designer Wolfgang Joop also used African wax prints to great effect on tops and silk dresses as he wowed attendees. The brilliant blend of garments also featured prints of roses and tigers on the coats, and Joop pointed to two decades as the major influences behind the decision to opt for this explosion of colour: the energy of mid-90s Berlin as well as the vibrancy of the 60s. Some of the daring designs featured provocative slogans such as “Well-Behaved People Rarely Make History.”
Wax prints have a deep resonance in West African culture, with women said to be silently communicating via their choice of pattern and colour.