Note from BW of Brazil: The world of fashion is a regular feature here on the blog and while black Brazilian women continue to be vastly under-represented on major fashion runways, black women are quietly carving out their own niche in the fashion design arena and it’s exciting to see. Below we bring you two more black women who decided to do their own thing and bringing the afro in Afro-Brazilian to the front and center! After all, regardless of statistics showing the difficulties Afro-Brazilian women face in making it to the altar, and the magazines that ignore their existence, black women DO get married and they too need guidance to make their day special!
Project creates wedding dresses with Afro-Brazilian styles.
Who says a wedding dress is always the same? With an eye on women who think “outside the box”, Ateliê Xongani developed the project Noiva Afro-Brasileira (Afro-Brazilian Bride), bringing together the classic haute couture fabrics to embroideries and applications typical of African fashion.
The idea for the project came from conversations with customers that revealed the desire to have a contemporary wedding dress, but which somehow represented African ancestry.
“Our idea of marriage is very Euro-centered, the bride is represented as a real queen. Constructing the dress concept, we seek references not in the slaves, but in African queens and in all their beauty,” said Ana Paula Mendonça, one of the founders of Xongani.
The result was a dress with organic and handmade embroidery, not shiny, but rich in detail. As the Brazilians don’t make use of the white hand, the model was made in Italian satin.
The African touch came due to the application of African fabrics with embroidered beads. The team travels once or twice a year to pan for tissues in Mozambique and South Africa.
“We search various fashion references and customs to create each accessory and clothes that we do here. We realized that the possibilities multiplied. African fashion has a lot of versatility. You can wear a collar on your head, as a belt, in a tied look … The pieces can be deconstructed,” said Ana Paula.
For her, the main objective of the project is to allow African culture to be portrayed in the most important moments of life, allowing that the woman “is beautiful with a culture that wasn’t even always appreciated.”
Ana Paula also pointed out that the brand does not bring to Brazil finished pieces, only fabrics and references.
“African fashion doesn’t contemplate the Brazilian woman. Brazil is a plural country, with many styles, many languages. We are Afro-Brazilians and not Africans. Therefore, we don’t reproduce concepts, but rethink fashion to adapt it to the reality of the women in our country,” she said.
The brand has already received the first orders for the wedding dress and, because of the project’s success, she wants to venture further into fashion. “At the end of the year, a second dress will already be ever released, with a more versatile look and being able to be used as much for brides as for parties in general.” Anyone who wants an exclusive model, can still browse the workshop for the making of personalized and custom made dresses.
Source: Revista Black Life Brasil