The Africa Channel x Vanichi Magazine present What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion? a creative celebration of emerging fashion from the African Diaspora.

Vanichi Magazine has partnered with The Africa Channel to present a PSA that expands the definitions of mainstream fashion. What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion? (#WIMIWAF) is a creative fashion editorial that reimagines iconic Hollywood film characters in modern, handcrafted fashion from designers of Africa and the Diaspora. The concept was devised by Vanichi’s Editor-in-Chief Joy Donnell and Joy served as Co-Creative Director alongside Jordan Anthony Swain, Vanichi’s Global Creative Director.

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Scroll below to discover the editorial and a special short documentary produced by The Africa Channel that summarizes What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion? Then stay tuned for more about the designers, the creatives, The Africa Channel and the models. You can also follow the action through the hashtag #WIMIWAF.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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 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

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CHER HOROWITZ played by Alicia Silverstone from CLUELESS modeled by Sara Ishag

Styled in: BADARA Necklace; SARAYAA Jacket; TEGAA Bracelets

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HONEY RIDER played by Ursula Andress from DR. NO modeled by Tia Hurley

Styled in: TEGAA Necklace; AVNAH Swimwear; BURKINABAE Bracelet

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HOLLY GOLIGHTLY played by Audrey Hepburn from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S modeled by Elle Drane

Styled in: AMMANII Earrings; TEGAA Necklace; SARAYAA Gown

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THE GIRL played by Marilyn Monroe from SEVEN YEAR ITCH modeled by Celisse Graves

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

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JIM STARK played by James Dean from REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE modeled by Elijah Allan-Blitz

Styled in: OBIOMA Shirt

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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

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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

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MICHAEL CORLEONE played by Al Pacino from GODFATHER modeled by Jonathan Stanton

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

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RICK BLAINE played by Humphrey Bogart from CASABLANCA modeled by Jaway

Styled in: OBIOMA Shirt; AFRO CUBAN Hat

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The Africa Channel documented the journey with exclusive interviews and behind the scenes content that can be seen here:

 

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

 

I hope you enjoy this special feature and our answer to What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion?

My best,

Joy Donnell

 

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

Nathalie Dubois-Sissoko

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

 

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