Today in Paris fashion designer Stella McCartney debuted a new collection of dresses, suits, and tops that are infused with Ankara designs and Twitter is pretty upset about it.
For one, she only had one black model and if you check out her website, the price tags are a doozy. Anyway check out what Twitter had to say and some of the looks:
So are we going to talk about Stella McCartney using Ankara prints,
meanwhile there was only ONE African model on her runway?!? pic.twitter.com/ljrvfNYMNK
— Amarachi Nwosu (@AmaraWorldWide) October 2, 2017
— madina ( مدينة ) (@bemamadina) October 3, 2017
— AFutureMogul? (@NoscMang) October 3, 2017
Ankara dresses that Mr Folarin will make for less than 10k. Smh https://t.co/SbGbwL6WCo
— FK. (@fkabudu) October 2, 2017
Now there is some noise from the opposition to these tweets that say African’s cannot necessarily claim these prints because they are actually Dutch.
Of course, for years they have been widely known as “African Prints” which is why black twitter is out in full force on the topic but in an effort at defending the designer the history of the fabric has caused debate.
So what does history tell us?
The truth is, these prints were imported by African’s who worked as slaves for the Dutch army in Indonesia. While in Indonesia they fell in love with the Batik prints being made by the locals there and they took the prints, patterns, and materials back to their home countries in Africa.
Yinka Shonibare who is a Nigerian artist that studies the origins of prints said himself:
“The fabrics are not really authentically African the way people think,” Shonibare has said. “They prove to have a crossbred cultural background quite of their own.”
From a high-level perspective, historically African men and women have always had a deep appreciation for the intricacies of the fabric and gave the patterns names in an attempt at claiming it for their own while Europeans tried to mass produce it failing every time.
Do with that little historical titbit what you will, at the end of the day if a designer is inspired by these prints, the origins are most definitely not British, or Dutch! Do you think this was appropration? Comment below!