Last week, the iconic fashion house Dior carried out a bold move by naming the singer Rihana as their first black representative. According to the magazine Dazed and Confused, “the singer will front a film and print campaign for their Secret Garden series, lensed by legendary photographer Steven Klein in the Palace of Versailles, an appointment that will make her the first black spokesperson of the fashion house in its almost 70 year history.”
Rihanna herself noted the following: “It is such a big deal for me, for my culture, for a lot of young girls of any color, because to be acknowledged by Dior means a lot, as a woman.” But what does it mean – not only for Dior and the vision of its outsider creative director Raf Simons- but for the fashion industry in general and African fashion industry in particular? Who is the spokesperson for African fashion?
To begin, African Fashion is by no means in the same league as Dior, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot have an iconic fashion house like them that would command the same respect. Secondly, Rihanna is a star in every sense of the word and she loves her fashion whether is in her role as being a fashion icon winner during last year’s CFDA awards, or in her various roles such as being a creative director of Puma or the face of Balmain’s SS14 campaign. So naturally everyone is looking at what she is wearing, like last week’s pink everything picture below which is right off the runway. Our generation is also very social media friendly and Rihanna’s 16 million followers on her Instagram profile or 42 million fans on Twitter are a force to be reckoned with and many advertisers have not ignored her digital influence. Even that Swarovski crystal dress she wore last year, has over 1.3 million pages on Goggle alone.
So yes, she has power and it is huge. But this is the type of spokesperson that African fashion needs. A star in their own right (of course not at the level of Rihanna), but there are people like Yagazie Emezi or Loza Maleombho or even Tiwa Savage with her over 300,000 followers or Genevieve Nnaji with her 435,000 followers on Instagram that can help Africa tell the story on fashion. These stars can help people connect with African fashion in new and refreshing ways. They can help to constantly question or redefine the idea of the woman in love with her African fashion in the same way incredible style took Rihanna from a talented young woman from a small island to the world stage. Ultimately, Rihanna knows herself and her fans know that she has a great sense of ownership over her body and what she chooses to display. That self-confidence is very much alive in Yagazie Emezi for example (just take a look at her instagram page) . It’s that type of self assuredness and power in a spokesperson that will propel African fashion to new heights. These women can set a precedent, which I believe will be well received, on what African Fashion looks and feels like, encouraging people to change their views on our fashion, one image at a time. Lord knows African Fashion needs this desperately.
Source: Dazed and Confused