Summer 2021 Collection
By Raphael Dapaah
Nothing quite stimulates the visual senses like high fashion and fine art.
Although distinctly unique art forms, they share considerable synergies and undeniable parallels; which explains the explosion of creative collaborations in recent years between iconic fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, with contemporary art sensations, Jeff Koons, and the hauntingly gifted self-taught artist, Unskilled Worker.
Inevitably, both of these artistic rendezvous resulted in highly acclaimed sold out collections, which to this day command a small fortune on the secondary luxury goods market. However, after today, none of these collections can, and perhaps, ever will, hold a candle to the sheer significance and impact that Dior’s artistic director, Kim Jones’ collaboration with Ghanaian contemporary superstar, Amoako Boafo, is about to have on the global fashion and art industry as we know it.
Kim Jones’ love of the African continent is well documented.
Although born in London; as a child, he spent a great deal of time darting between Tanzania, Botswana and Kenya with his hydrogeologist father, honing what would become a lifelong fascination and appreciation of African cultures, heritage and aesthetics. This fondness would later inform his collections whilst at the helm of Louis Vuitton, with his first season project being inspired by the nomadic culture and traditional clothing of the Maasai tribe of East Africa’s Rift Valley.
It would be easy to suggest that the creative director is simply a cultural appropriator. Culture vultures are indeed rampant in creative industries, ‘borrowing’, or rather, blatant stealing and mis-referencing is a common place, and widely accepted practice. However, upon closer inspection on the trajectory of Jones’ career to date, it becomes quite apparent that his references not only stem from a place of genuine admiration, but also of clear study and appropriate credit.
It is in this spirit of authenticity and allyship that shapes the significance of Dior’s leading man’s exceptional and timely collaboration with Amoako Boafo; whose star has been rising higher with every passing day since his artist residency with Rubell Museum during Miami Basel in 2019.
Whilst the contemporary African art market has been enjoying greater patronage and recognition in the past decade; there are some who have decried the growing market as nothing more than a trend, that is due to burst like most markets driven by gross speculation, and manipulation by vested interests.
However, with Jones’ nod of approval towards Amoako Boafo, in one swift move, contemporary African art has shifted from the margins of the art world, to front and centre of the global fashion industry, magnifying its allure, boldness and appeal, and cementing it firmly as a mainstream art form, rather than the whimsical niche market it is typically viewed as.
It would be remiss not to mention the significance of Dior’s timing.
In the midst of a global pandemic, and the recent global spotlighting and support of the black lives matter movement’s call for overdue justice, equal rights, representation and opportunities, Dior’s decision to collaborate with a Ghanaian visual artist, and feature their work prominently on their collection, is a great case study in progressiveness, and allyship. This move has the potential to create greater opportunities for black creatives in the fashion industry, but also more widely across the creative sector at large, if this collection achieves the acclaim and commercial success we anticipate it will.
Let’s hope this watershed moment is a signal of the progress and growth to come, and not a drop in the ocean, that is soon forgotten once the momentum and the excitement fades away.
Time will tell, but until then, we remain heartened and enthused about the future of black creatives, and their role in shaping the global fashion and art market through their story telling, and personal truths.