The Hyena and the Other Skirts

The Hyena and the Other Skirts

>> I've always been in two minds about the use of "ethnic" costume in fashion.  I'm all for being inspired by the world but where does 'ethnic' costume literal re-hashing start and end.  Or even worse, countries, ethnic groups and cultures that form the inspiration end up becoming lumped into one and become one mass genre where a piece of clothing with something a bit unfamiliar looking about it ends up being coined as 'ethnic-looking' (*major eye wincing here…*)

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In Paris, I discovered the work of Marani and surprisingly I was very taken with what he had done with his collection, a mainline re-launch (I gather Marani is a casual knitwear brand…).  He's pretty specific about where his ideas come from.  Actually, it is just the one idea… from Pieter Hugo's photography undertaken in Nigeria, specifically the series "The Hyena and Other Men", Alberto Marani took the dusty tasselled skirts of the hyena tamers and transferred them to a contemporary setting where I could well imagine an ornate layered tasselled skirt worn with a casual silk t-shirt.  It's the very specific and singular motif and the way Marani has refined an item of attire that has this very raw kind of beauty that makes complete sense to me.

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Leave a comment
  1. BobbinTalk

    2009-10-30 at 2:44 PM

    The skirt does look beautiful, but the beast in the top photos scares me quite a bit!! Hello Halloween, but wait it’s real!!!

  2. amanda

    2009-10-30 at 3:21 PM

    really beautiful. i like his aesthetic a lot.


    2009-10-30 at 3:47 PM

    omg what kind of animal is this. it looks so scary and dangerous…
    these skirts are freaking amazing!

  4. aoi neko

    2009-10-30 at 3:50 PM

    Those are very unique and amazing looking! They are different enough that I don’t think they would get pegged as ethnic. I love the idea of pair one with a simple yet chic top so the skirt remains the focus of attention. Great photos too!

  5. just4fun

    2009-10-30 at 4:04 PM

    Ethnic or not we LOVE it!

  6. Marta

    2009-10-30 at 4:04 PM

    Aw It’s beautiful…

  7. ms. shoo

    2009-10-30 at 5:04 PM

    You know it was your first paragraph that pulled me into this topic. I couldn’t agree more. And I wish more designers were as specific as Harani. Again you give food for thought, which is the toppers in my book.

  8. Dani

    2009-10-30 at 5:13 PM

    those hyena pictures are gorgeous and haunting.
    i had to go through his entire site.
    knowing the context, that is a really cool skirt. otherwise it just seems like a tassel overdose. but maybe that’s just me…

  9. daphne

    2009-10-30 at 5:14 PM

    I love those skirts so much! And I tend to agree with your thoughts on ethnic dress in fashion. It becomes a little non-specific.

  10. Nickie Frye

    2009-10-30 at 6:31 PM

    Wait just a second, “hyena tamers”? What the heck? Yikes!
    Re: ethnic clothing, I don’t mind a little lose interpretation &/or assimilation. I’m a mutt, myself! (Not to be confused with a hyena). 😉

  11. The Style Strutter

    2009-10-30 at 7:07 PM
  12. Jennine

    2009-10-30 at 8:53 PM

    i really love the tassels!

  13. romy

    2009-10-30 at 9:04 PM

    I’d love to wear such a skirt and I’d probably be jumping, twisting and dancing all day long, because the tassels will be moving along!

  14. Jackie

    2009-10-30 at 10:38 PM

    I am entranced by the idea of wearing tassels! Previously i had only associated them as elegant, curtain-tie add-ons, but i love the idea of using them on a skirt!
    May be using this in the future for inspiration.
    By the way suzie, i’ve been reading your blog-and loving every second of it!- for almost a year yet, but this is my first comment, awful i know, but just letting you know i think you rock!

  15. KD

    2009-10-30 at 10:38 PM

    Well said! They are indeed beautiful.

  16. Spider Monkey Blunderguff

    2009-10-30 at 10:45 PM

    “Or even worse, countries, ethnic groups and cultures that form the inspiration end up becoming lumped into one and become one mass genre where a piece of clothing with something a bit unfamiliar looking about it ends up being coined as ‘ethnic-looking’ (*major eye wincing here…*)”
    Well said! I’ve always felt this way because different countries have different cultures, style etc! Marani is specific about Nigeria… that makes sense.
    Good work on this insightful piece about fashion and also culture! =)

  17. blica

    2009-10-30 at 11:20 PM
  18. Shelley

    2009-10-30 at 11:35 PM

    These skirts are beautiful pieces of wearable art. They initially seem a bit much, but in the photos worn with simple t’s and tanks, they look fabulous!

  19. The Cocoa Butter

    2009-10-31 at 12:53 AM

    Your blog is one of the most interesting sites that I´ve ever visited!It inspires and absorbs me.
    For me is a pleasure to read it every day, congratulations from Spain!!!
    My blog:

  20. boots

    2009-10-31 at 1:00 AM

    The tassels are cute.

  21. Colleen

    2009-10-31 at 5:12 AM

    ahh i hate the word “ethnic” but the sad part is that there’s no other synonym for it. these genres really have been grouped into a mass scale one where some get forgotten or stereotyped as the popular one. your blog is very thought provoking, i love it!

  22. fashion tidbits

    2009-10-31 at 7:52 AM

    i was just about to say, what the heck is that animal???!!! a hyena. i’m glad that’s sorted out.

  23. mary

    2009-10-31 at 12:51 PM

    hm.. pieter hugo’s photography is not really my thing – jim johnson wrote a pretty precise criticism on exactly the question wether this is still “documentary” or already a staged ethnic circus
    also i think those skirts are rather copied, than just inspired.

  24. mary

    2009-10-31 at 12:51 PM
  25. Gareth

    2009-10-31 at 3:13 PM

    Where the hells is that guy with the hyena!!!!

  26. Max Kretuzer

    2009-12-31 at 4:08 PM

    “What is that animal!”
    Idiots, that’s a man. A black man. Don’t you have them in your part of the world.

  27. Cardiff Airport

    2010-10-31 at 5:49 PM

    I don’t think they mean’t “black man”… I think they mean’t oh god what is that!

  28. Wales

    2011-01-22 at 4:53 PM

    Ye I don’t think its racism lol! Its more a case of “Of My God” what is that!

  29. Rachelle

    2013-09-16 at 9:15 PM

    Unique POV as usual! 🙂 This ethnic thing is a bit like lumping “exotic” Asian dainty silk and prints, though of course it’s regarded more a compliment to Lil’ Miss China

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