Iman gets her feet wet in a black spaghetti dress while Miram Makeba, the woman known as Mama Africa takes a more traditional approach. Have I got your attention. The year was 1995, and Iman and her husbad David Bowie were in South Africa on an assignment for Vogue Magazine shortly after Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s new president. “Whether visiting shantytowns or the grandest Cape Dutch homesteads, all including their photographer Bruce Weber, were welcomed with warmth and friendliness, music and dance. The resulting images were a celebration of beauty and optimism of a new South Africa, a nation and a people embarking on a new future.”
This quote was from the 1995 editorial of Iman traveling in style in South Africa for Vogue Magazine. What did she see? How did people react? The pictures themselves are captivating and the speak of a time when Africa was beloved not just by Africans themselves but also huge global entities like Vogue Magazine. This was a huge feat for an African country, as Iman had a queenly confidence standing next to Mandela, with the caption “A historic moment” and of course she radiated like a force field in the images for Vogue.
Africa was more innocent then and these images speak of a period when Africans graced Vogue too. There were of course colorful people dancing to their own beat and a giant palm tree worthy of it’s own spot on Vogue.
Iman wore the perfect dancing attire, but South Africans wore theirs too, a traditional one. Iman looked flawless as she looked into Africa’s future with hope and optimism, but young South Africans looked the same with a future so bright.
Buildings were all part of the shot too, like Brasyd’s Tavern or the building on new church street in Cape Town with all it’s bright graffiti was just as stylish like Iman herself in her pristine white dress.
Africa is never complete without music and Iman and Bowie caught a little music at Cape Town Manenberg Jazz Club while also making time for love with this totally breathtaking shot of them at a beach (p.e. that wedding dress is to die for). Those who would have traveled to South Africa during that period would have encountered a land of great beauty and extraordinary natural wealth in the same fashion like Iman and her husband. But it is 2015 and I believe that the same hold true for South Africa and other countries in Africa.
The Africa I know is still fluent in this language of beauty and it’s people will still welcome anyone with warmth and friendliness with lots of music, dance and food. The reason I love Africa so much is because of the beauty Iman encountered there while on assignment for Vogue. This is a continent still full of hope and optimism, with an excitement for what the future holds. Africa can still add something to the world of Vogue magazine whether it is with traveling in style or sharing a point of view that it’s readers are not accustomed to, like the growing asoebi culture in Nigeria or beadmaking like you have never seen it before or even turbans or head gears that are as iconic as the wearer itself. Creative risks do not take a backseat in Africa, and eminently relatable Africans know how to captivate people with their sense of fashion. Fashion in my opinion is more compelling in Africa and indicative of that warmth and friendliness that Iman once encountered there. People move in their clothes in the same manner like Iman did while getting into the swing of things at the Green Point Sunday Market in South Africa.
Almost every African you meet will possess a smile Iman and Bowie in the image above and tell you that their clothes last for years (and it does when you have your very own tailor), they are also timeless and classic and worth their money all the time. This is a point of view sorely missing these days with Vogue. I applaud them for putting Lupita N’yongo in their most recent issue of Vogue, she is truly an African worth celebrating. However, I would like to urge them to go back to that period when Africa, it’s people, it’s music, it’s culture were all part of an editorial. It will be a Vogue issue that will bring in a new set of audience (i.e. young African professionals with their own money), and one totally worth the purchase always.
p.s. Since once of my goals is to write for Vogue (and a girl can always dream), DO CONSIDER ISIOMASTYLEREPORT WHEN THE POSITION OPENS UP (I am very serious, and it would be an honor to share my point of view on Africa to your audience).