Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Digital Art and Fashion Exhibition by Papa Oppong and Idara Ikpe at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. It was such a well put together and informative event. Papa Oppong is a fashion artist from Ghana who has just recently revealed his newest collection. His inspiration came from his home, Ghana. His pieces focused around the Ghana Marketplace. There were 6 models he presented, each representing one of the main inspirations: Playfulness, Flirtation, Qwerky, Commerce, Disaster, and Culture. All can be seen above, but to explain a few I’ll focus on Playfulness, Culture, and Disaster. For more information on his line please see below for his contact information and websites.
Playfulness was inspired by youth, with simple flowy pieces that draped beautifully over the body. The women of Ghana inspired Culture. As Papa explained it is often custom to wear lots of wrap dresses, for simplicity and ease, and to also just wear what you want. He describes how it is often found that people just put on whatever they feel like wearing. If he or she feels like wearing a coat in the middle of the summer that’s exactly what he or she will do. There isn’t too much overthinking. They just do what they feel, and that served as true inspiration. Disaster was the most impactful for me, however. He used such a beautiful piece to express such great sorrow, and to me that made it speak even louder and make even more of an impact. Ghana experiences a lot of overcrowding issues and fires, so he used this as inspiration to incorporate pain and loss as he saw it into the collection, as a way to honor the hurt.
Papa hopes to leave his mark on the industry by honoring African design and fashion in a cutting edge way. He gives the audience the advice that when attempting to leave your mark you won’t always initially get what you want. Sometimes you fail, but what separates you from the next is that you keep going and putting yourself out there, regardless. He steps boldly into the world of fashion through this collection largely based on neutral/natural tones. When asked why he shied away from expressing the true vibrant color and liveliness of the Ghana Market in his collection he simply replied that he wanted to go a different direction and do something different. To me, that’s where you find true innovation and lasting success in the fashion realm: By not being afraid to do something different and make it your own. He refers to himself as a “fashion artist” instead of a “fashion designer” for this very reason. What he does is a true art and packed with individualized creativity you won’t find done in the same way by anyone else (as seen by the design portion of the exhibition).
Another visionary, Idara Ikpe, who designs and makes handmade jewelry worked with Papa on his collection. Her accessories popped magnificently with his pieces. She used Papa’s inspiration of the Ghana Market by incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables into the accessory line (apples, carrots, corn, etc.). Originally from Nigeria, Idara began creating art at the age of 5, but as early as the age of 2 her mother saw she had a special eye for fashion. She works mainly with clay and has an extensive background in the fine arts (painting and sculpting). Her love for both fashion and art blended to make amazing pieces, like the ones pictured below. Her inspirations can be pulled from everywhere, from other pieces of art to music or even people. She currently has pieces in the National Museum of African Art, and an ongoing exhibit inspired the picture below. She pulled inspiration from a necklace made in the 19th/20th century that was given to the royal family.
Both Papa and Idara have amazing talent, as I’m sure you can see. If you are interested in contacting them please see the links below! I was so amazed by their work and the thought and time they both put into their pieces. They came together to not only produce beautiful pieces, but to tell a story that left a lasting impact. I am so excited to continue following them and see where they go from here!
Just as with the Indie Fashion Week coverage I will make a video of the event, so you guys can see more of their work, so stay tuned!
Pictures by Stephen Tennyson...Please Contact Me For His Contact Information
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