A Third Aesthetic


Wow. I never would have thought about mixing together African textiles with the Japanese kimono, but the result is absolutely stunning. I stumbled upon Serge Mouangue’s collection Wafrica last month, and was immediately awe-struck, first with the unexpected combination and then with how well it worked. As I was putting this together, I realized why I loved it so much: it manages to combine strength (the bold and bright African textiles) and delicate grace (the traditional kimono form) to create a wholly cohesive look. Strength and grace. Two contrasts united in women. I remembered this quote:

“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” – Alice MacKenzie Swaim

Ah, yes!

The rest in Serge’s own words, from this lovely article:

“They may appear different on the surface but they do share some cultural similarities. Both societies are very tribal and have a respect for hierarchy and an appreciation of the power of silence.”

“And then there are the differences. In Japan there is no improvisation. Here, improvisation can mean trouble, shame, difficulties. But in Africa, it means life, renewal, health and spirit.”

“The kimono is an icon of Japan. I’m fascinated by the cut and the attitude and poise it creates among women when they wear them. Putting on a kimono is an immensely complex process. It is like a building, with layer after layer. But the complexity disappears when it is put together, and the end result is pure beauty and timelessness.”

“African women are supposed to show their bodies.The cut of their traditional babu dress may be from loose cotton, but when they move it is designed to show all their curves. In African dress, womanly lines are celebrated. In Japan, the shape is different; it is more like a tube.”

“The connection between two different worlds such as Africa and Japan may be hidden. There may be a sea that seems to separate the two places. But we are all connected. There is earth under the sea that links us all, but we can’t always see it. This is a project that tries to show that connection.”

“I am hoping to expand this to include other aspects of Japanese culture. This is just the start. It is about finding a third aesthetic. Telling a familiar story a different way. The end result? It’s about hope, and it’s about the future.”

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One response »

  1. It is beautiful.If you have time look some African website you can find more and different kind of African cultural
    cloeths which you can mix with Japanese .i read something… improvation.in my dictinary, it said …make somthing from whatever is avaible. so what is wrong with improvatin?

    good work

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