African Men’s Traditional Wear Inspires New York Fashion Show

When British designer Ozwald Boateng announced he’d be staging a fashion show about “AI,” most people assumed he was talking about artificial intelligence. But to Boateng, who presented a collection at New York City’s legendary Apollo Theater, AI stood for “authentic identity.” And the show’s looks left no doubt about his commitment to that ideal. The looks took West African design touches (Boateng is of Ghanaian heritage) and combined them with nods to the Harlem Renaissance. Fitting, as the Apollo is one of Harlem, and the country’s, most iconic showplaces for black culture. In addition to being a spectacle in its own right, the show is one of many events taking place all over Harlem and the rest of New York City between 2018 and 2020 to mark the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance. Models, who included a few famous faces like “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams and musician Jidenna, showed off natty three-piece suits made of kente cloth, brightly patterned silk headwraps and enormous wooden circle bracelets that resembled the lip plates traditionally worn by Mursi tribeswomen in Ethiopia.


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