For my latest project with Vanichi Magazine, we teamed up with The Africa Channel to ask “What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion?”

For my latest project with Vanichi Magazine, we teamed up with The Africa Channel to ask “What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion?” (#WIMIWAF). This creative fashion editorial imagines iconic Hollywood film characters in an alternate reality where they don modern, handcrafted fashion from designers of Africa and the Diaspora. I served as Co-Creative Director alongside Jordan Anthony Swain, who also modeled one of the campaign looks.

Movies can teach us how to dream. They ignite our imaginations. They tap into our deepest humanity. They help us escape. They fire us up. They’re the art of making make-believe feel tangible. That’s why billions of dollars are allotted around the world every year on every continent to bring a story to the screen. Often, we find ourselves drawn to certain characters that become iconic for the things they say, the obstacles they overcome, and even the things they wear.

Some of these films become permanently embedded in culture for their design elements alone. In these cases we see the fashions on the screen inform the runway, too. For instance, a 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio inspired numerous fashion collections from Banana Republic to Marchesa. The film even won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. That’s just one example of how one movie affected pop culture almost instantaneously.

If movies wield this type of power, it’s not a stretch to say that they can also expand our definitions of what is “mainstream.” The fashions we see on these characters can create trends or have longer resonance, becoming the new classics.

Yet, diversity has been an ongoing problem in Hollywood and affects things both behind and in front of the camera. In some cases, the hierarchy of power structures have kept some cultures from ever being part of the dialogue in the first place, although that culture itself has often been a source of inspiration or a backdrop within the plot structure.

I’ve watched Hollywood movies my entire life. I’ve seen films set in 1940’s Vietnam to 1990’s Congo. Yet, I can’t really recall a main character that is considered “iconic” that dressed in fashions that weren’t designed by European brands or the European Diaspora. So I wanted to ask a different question: What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion?

The Africa Channel wants to answer this question. As an award-winning network, The Africa Channel showcases the African continent’s most outstanding English language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies and more. Its programming presents a window into the complexity and richness of modern African life, thus demystifying the continent for an American audience.

The Africa Channel and Vanichi partnered to present What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion? as more than an editorial. #WIMIWAF is a public service announcement to telescope and celebrate the diverse fashion emerging from Africa and its people. Designers featured range from couture to ready to wear labels and clothing to handmade accessories and jewelry. Within these looks, viewers will find exquisite examples of tailoring, beadwork, leathersmithing, metalworking and innovative design that is inherent to the peoples of Africa.

 

We chose 10 iconic movie characters to serve as inspiration:
Annie Hall played by Diane Keaton from the film ANNIE HALL

modeled by Chanelle Renee

Styled in: MINKU Custom Necktie + Shimmy Shimmy Bling Bling Aso Oke Pants + Salmon Leather Bucket Bag; OBIOMA Shirt; BADARA Custom Sandals; TEGAA Bracelet

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-annie-hall-vanichi

The Girl played by Marilyn Monroe from THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH

modeled by Celisse Graves

Styled in: AMMANII Necklace + Earrings; OBIOMA Dress; YULL Shoes

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-marilyn-monroe-vanichi

Honey Rider played by Ursula Andress from James Bond’s DR. NO

modeled by Tia Hurley

Styled in: TEGAA Necklace; AVNAH Swimwear; BURKINABAE Bracelet

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-dr-no-007-vanichi

Holly Golightly played by Audrey Hepburn from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

modeled by Elle Drane

Styled in: AMMANII Earrings; TEGAA Necklace; SARAYAA Gown

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-audrey-hepburn-breakfastattiffanys-vanichi

Cher Horowitz played by Alicia Silverstone from CLUELESS

modeled by Sara Ishag

Styled in: BADARA Necklace; SARAYAA Jacket; TEGAA Bracelets

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-clueless-vanichi

Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino from THE GODFATHER

modeled by Jonathan Stanton

Styled in: OBIOMA Shirt + Pocket Square; M ANDREWS Suit

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-godfather

Rick Blaine played by Humphrey Bogart from CASABLANCA

modeled by Jaway

Styled in: OBIOMA Shirt; AFRO CUBAN Hat

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-casablanca

Tony Manero played by John Travolta from SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

modeled by Isaiah Lucas

Styled in: STUDIO ONE EIGHT NINE Shirt; OBIOMA Jacket + Vest; AMMANII Necklace; JF LONDON Shoes

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-saturday-night-fever-travolta

Jim Stark played by James Dean from REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE

modeled by Elijah Allan-Blitz

Styled in: OBIOMA Shirt

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-james-dean-vanichi

Morpheus played by Laurence Fishburne from THE MATRIX

modeled by Jordan Anthony Swain

Styled in: KENNETH NICHOLSON Shirt, AMMANII Necklace, BURKINABAE Sunglasses, M ANDREWS Suit Pants

what_if_movie_icons_wore_african-morpheus-matrix

Alongside my co-creative director Jordan Anthony Swain, photographer Juhn Kwon, hair and makeup artist Karen Bates-Ashley and assistant stylist Drea MJ, memorable Hollywood characters were reimagined in modern, handcrafted clothing and accessories from designers of Africa and the Diaspora.

We gathered a vast curation of exciting brands:

Kenneth Nicholson (Los Angeles, California) | kennethnicholson.us

Obioma (Lagos, Nigeria) | myobioma.com

Ammanii (Cairo + Los Angeles, California) | ammanii.com

Tegaa (Gambia + New York) | tegaa.com

M Andrews Sartorial Luxury (San Antonio, Texas) | mandrewsluxury.com

Badara Jewelry (Sierra Leone + Malibu, California) | facebook.com/BadaraFineJewels

Minku (Lagos, Nigeria + Barcelona, Spain) | minku.com

Avnah (Atlanta, Georgia) | avnah.com

Studio One Eighty Nine (Ghana + USA) |  studiooneeightynine.com

Burkinabae (Los Angeles, California)  | burkinabae.com

Sarayaa (Senegal) | sarayaafashion.com

 


Stay tuned for more editorial and video features from #WIMIWAF and join the discussion on social media through the hashtag.

Scroll down for credits and special thanks from those who helped make this project possible.

 

Special Thanks to:

Apex Studios

La Maison de Fashions

Gamal Palmer

Johnnie Raines

James LaGrappe

Thomas Schoos

Michael Berman

Sista Asia Wildenboer

Li Sapp-Weaver

Jeff Moeller

and PRB for including: JF London | jflondon.net/it + Yull  | yull.co.uk

 

CREATIVE CREDITS

Creative Directors    JORDAN ANTHONY SWAIN

JOY DONNELL

Photographer        JUHN KWON

Hair + Makeup        KAREN BATES-ASHLEY

Assistant Stylist    DREA MJ

Retouching by        KONSTANTIN GEORGULIS

Graphic Design by       KRUNAL KAWALE

Models          JONATHAN STANTON . The Godfather

CELISSE GRAVES . The Seven Year Itch

ELIJAH ALLAN-BLITZ . Rebel Without a Cause

TIA HURLEY . Dr. No

JAWAY . Casablanca

SARA ISHAG . Clueless

ISAIAH LUCAS . Saturday Night Fever

CHANELLE RENEE . Annie Hall

JORDAN ANTHONY SWAIN . The Matrix

ELLE DRANE . Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Editorial Assistants    MARA HERRON

MARSHALL CHEN

What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion_#wimiwaf-square

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