It's hard to pay sartorial homage to your ancestry when you don't know exactly what it is.
But until I can get the cutlass print blazer and steel pan pendants of my dreams (we'll see how 10 years from now April is doing on those), the best I've got are Trinidadian and Jamaican flags, and the various kinds of "African prints."
I'm not a fan of describing anything as "African" that's not an animal or a weather pattern. After all, it's a whole continent. No one's going to say "European motifs in fashion considering French haute couture and Ukrainian traditional patterns are understood to be vastly different things. However, since I, like most black people in the diaspora of the Americas, am not sure whereabouts in Africa my ancestry is based, any fashion I choose is going to be less specific to the cultures I actually came from, and more a general shoutout to the Motherland. All of it.
Well. A good portion of it. There aren't any Egyptian scarabs on this dress... yet.
Since I, like most black people in the diaspora of the Americas, am not sure whereabouts in Africa my ancestry is based, any fashion I choose is going to be less specific to the cultures I actually came from, and more a general shoutout to the Motherland. All of it.
Honestly, I've always wanted to send my spit in to be genetically analyzed, but my biggest fear (besides the fact that apparently these companies sell your genetic info to insurers if you have markers for "pre-existing conditions") is that I'll just get a nice non-descript "Sub Saharan West Africa" back. Mm. Real helpful.
Even though I don't care to do all black all the time, usually my big fancy dresses are more on the "Is she a vampire" spectrum of things. But Grace Jones help me... I'm just get so bleeping tired of damask print everywhere. Yes, yes, 17th century France and Victorian England were suuuuuuuper rad (for the 1%, cough cough), but what ELSE is there for me? Kente! Indonesian-derived Ankara! Headwraps! VARIETY! I've already insisted my very obviously Afro-descended hair belongs everywhere. Because it does. Why not see how gothy I can get with Afro-descended fashion?
I keep kicking myself for not wearing a corset over this...
Although I didn't get to keep this particular piece I can say that mixing my "edgelord" accessories with "ancestral" sensibilities was definitely a fun fashion exercise. And much like ACTUAL exercise, I look forward to doing it more!
Are "African prints" a part of your wardrobe? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photos by Cassandra JK