Fela Kuti and his Wives

Fela Kuti and his Wives

I don't think I'll ever encounter an instance where the indirect results of polygyny were so positive but here it is.  Buki Akib is a Nigerian born knitwear designer, who graduated from Central Saint Martins and has long held a fascination for Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti and his twenty seven wives (he married and divorced them quite rapidly as an assertion of his Yorouba identity in face of a rapidly Westernised Nigeria).  Therefore Buki created a capsule menswear collection inspired by Fela and his exuberant manner, demonstrating her knowledge of African wax prints, traditional Yorouba hand woven textiles and combining that with traditional knitwear techniques.   

Moving on from Fela to his Wives, Buki has created a bag collection in their honour, which is currently being sold exclusively at Darkroom on Lamb's Conduit Street, feted by a collaborative window installation.  Buki names the bags after a few of the wives – the Tola clutch, the Sandra and the Funmilayo bag – and adorns each one with an explosive combination of Yorouba hand weaving from South Western Nigera, long and sensual strands of gold lurex and a vibrant palette of sand, aubergine and pistachio.  

Buki also showcased her Fela collection at the Arise fashion week, which I wrote about with the help of Patternity.  I questioned whether asserting recognisable "Africana" aesthetics in an African-originated designer's work is the only real way of having a valid voice?  Buki has a more all-embracing approach towards her work where there are no shackles to her culture.  "I myself feel content to using African fabrics coming from a textile background and more so because I am constantly learning and questioning the traditional techniques and interpreting the method to a contemporary level.  It's positive to see how the international scene is starting to take note that African fashion does have a place in the industry. There is still a long way to go, but I truly believe, designers from the continent and diaspora are bringing a fresh perspective to fashion now."

Buki is right about there being a long way to go.  We may have been battered to death with visions of Africana through the eyes of Western fashion brands who look upon the continent as a source of travel-based inspiration but genuinely African-rooted and African-derived fashion on the international scene is still very much hard to come by.  Hence why collaborative efforts such as this one between Buki and Darkroom are much appreciated.    

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34 comments

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  1. STILL WITH YOU

    2012-06-04 at 10:18 AM

    Interesting post this one. You are asking an important question and I cherish Buki’s reply. As a designer myself, and often inspired by native cultures, I might need to go some rounds with myself. I think it raises an important question around how the West portrays other cultures through fashion. It’s a battle with authenticity. And it’s great to see Buki’s take on it, and how such a legend and his women are celebrated.

  2. Coline

    2012-06-04 at 10:29 AM

    Oh wow! These are really amazing! he’s super talented! (27 wives??? :O whoa! Ahha)
    munchmecat.blogspot.com

  3. Serdane

    2012-06-04 at 10:29 AM

    African world is around us and it’s the must have for this summer. So I think that this will have a little coll success. I would live having it !
    http://www.younglington.wordpress.com

  4. Rhoda

    2012-06-04 at 10:34 AM

    those are such cool purses!
    http://www.styleandshades.blogspot.com

  5. RIYKA

    2012-06-04 at 10:38 AM

    Amazing, I love fela kuti, I can not think of him without the 27 wifes, stunningly beautiful and inspiring pieces!

  6. Liana Wears

    2012-06-04 at 12:58 PM

    I adore fela kuti! Thanks for the post! The bags are quite amazing.
    xo
    liana

  7. Miss Coco

    2012-06-04 at 1:43 PM

    I love your originality!
    Miss Coco
    http://WWW.JUST-COCO.COM

  8. Adeola Naomi

    2012-06-04 at 1:55 PM

    Such a great post!!!
    Am glad a non Nigerian know our story and culture quite well.
    Since the society is modernized not every Yoruba have so much wives any more, am also Yoruba and my granddad had three wives, but my dad is monogamous
    Love all the African Items here, its divine!
    Kisses

  9. Nathan Niche

    2012-06-04 at 1:57 PM

    ok this is seriously fab and being a csm student i guess i have no excuse but to buy these and support my fellow alumni lol
    love the knitted prints and tassel embellishments, very cool to have around for summer! loves it!! 😉
    xx nathan.niche
    -FIND YOUR NICHE-
    http://style-niche.blogspot.com

  10. paper cup machines

    2012-06-04 at 2:01 PM

    I must admit it ranks up there among one of the most unique blog ideas I have ever seen.

  11. Ilaktionova

    2012-06-04 at 2:08 PM

    Great inspiration!
    ilaktionova.blogspot.com

  12. Miss K

    2012-06-04 at 3:04 PM

    I love these ethnic designs!
    Please enter my Swarovski pen giveaway on http://www.luxessed.com

  13. Samantha

    2012-06-04 at 6:18 PM

    Love your blog

  14. desiree

    2012-06-04 at 6:24 PM

    awesome! i love Fela Kuti music and i think it really relates to this collection, thank you so much for sharing, i’d never have the chance to look at this anywhere else, you’re blog is so original and unique!

  15. Lili Gabbiano

    2012-06-04 at 6:39 PM

    wow…very nice…

  16. Peter

    2012-06-04 at 7:49 PM

    Gorgeous bags. They feel like an update on fringe to me.
    x Peter @ http://low–couture.blogspot.com

  17. orin ink

    2012-06-04 at 10:04 PM

    Wow thats funny and cool because Zulema Griffin http://www.zulemagriffin.com/years ago did an entire collection around the idea of Fela and his wives .Great to see that young designers are drawn to strong subjects still.Its a very nice collection impressed.-orin ink

  18. Jessica

    2012-06-04 at 10:52 PM

    Wowza. Amazing bags!
    http://thechicaddict.blogspot.com

  19. modezirkus.

    2012-06-04 at 11:07 PM

    oh wow. this is amazing… Thanks for sharing.
    xx
    http://cirqueduseneca.blogspot.de/

  20. Cristián Pavez Díaz

    2012-06-05 at 1:11 AM

    I love Fela Kuti!! Nice collection as well!!
    Greetings from Santiago, Chile.
    http://carethewear.wordpress.com
    Twitter: @cristianpavezd
    Facebook: http://on.fb.me/uywe6X

  21. Web Marketing Dallas

    2012-06-05 at 5:39 AM

    Interesting story behind the lovely designs.

  22. Tofi

    2012-06-05 at 6:24 AM

    O dear, it’s spelt ‘yoruba’ not ‘yorouba’ x

  23. Australian Designer

    2012-06-05 at 8:07 AM

    You have a great blog dear. I love the whole post specially the handbags are looking very beautiful and inspired me a lot. Thanks for the post….

  24. diana

    2012-06-05 at 9:16 AM

    hello!
    love these bags..
    i love bags..my favorite brand is the italian Il bisonte..
    SS2012 collection is online and it’s amazing..

  25. Joy D.

    2012-06-05 at 4:28 PM

    These prints make me salavate. I know polygamy doesn’t usually turn out very well but the Kuti women were pretty phenomenal.

  26. cookie

    2012-06-05 at 7:11 PM

    OMG! THIS COAT!!!

  27. fashionacce

    2012-06-06 at 2:53 AM

    Amazing look – as always, and amazing photos – as always! Beautiful!

  28. fashionhour

    2012-06-08 at 4:34 AM

    The colour is so, so, so pretty, and those bags are so cute!

  29. fashioninfor

    2012-06-11 at 5:05 AM

    Lovely bag and great color !

  30. Louisa

    2012-11-19 at 3:53 PM

    Gorgeous collection and lovely images!!!

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