The most underrated textile in the world

The most underrated textile in the world

We are living in the best time to connect artisans to the Global market. – Tina Lobondi

 

It was important for me to take some time to explore the textiles of the country I am from, Congo. One of them significantly stood out every time. The Kuba textile…  You may or not have heard of it but you definitely have seen it a few times in your life on television, store, textiles, frames, and so on….. I recently discovered a brand called Duarra Limited. And immediately fell in love with the work they were doing.

KUBA KINGDOM HISTORY

The Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of Congo are located around the Sankuru river in the Kasai region. It’s a tribe made up of 18 sub-groups.

The Kingdom was established in the 17th century by king Shyaam. It had a more developed state institutions than other independent villages and chieftaincy in the region. It also had an unwritten constitution, separation of political powers, a judicial system with courts and juries, a police force and military, taxation and significant public provision.

The base cloth, called “Mbal”, is made from the dried leaves of the raffia palm tree. To produce the cloth, the leaves are first dried and then stripped down to individual fibers before being woven. In the the Kuba culture, men are responsible for the cultivation of the raffia palm and the weaving of the cloth. The women are responsible for transforming the raffia cloth into various forms of textiles.

 

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Photo credits: http://en.lisapoyakama.org/the-kuba-kingdom/

The patterns of the textile communicate essentials informations about the Kuba as individuals and as a society. They are an important marker of social status, lineage and ethnicity. Finally, some textiles are used for funerals and festive events.

The textiles isn’t decorated with human or animal fugures, but with exquisite abstract designs. Although the Kuba people have been producing textiles for four hundred years, their traditional designs are strikingly modern.

Avant-garde European artists like Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Grace Hartzel were greatly inspired by the various abstract pattern of the Kuba textiles.

 

SOME INTERESTING FACTS

The first explorer to discover the existence of the Kuba people was William Sheppard, a black American Presbyterian.

Whenever a king dies, the capital moves to the location of the new king

Several restaurant venues in Salzburg, owned by Austria’s Red Bull founder, display a good selection of Kuba textiles.

 

KUBA FACTS

Wealthy members of society supported Fashion and Arts, which in turn augmented their status and increased their chances of being named to a lofty post. As a result, the efforts of the Kuba artisans became sophisticated and varied.

 

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Picture credit : https://duarra.com

 

The Kuba are also called the Bakuba.

The Kuba kingdom wasn’t affected by the Arabs and European slave trades. It was only destabilised when the Belgians came to Congo at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Kuba society is matriarchal. The eldest woman from the royal family is the true sovereign and she could make the kind stand down.

The Kuba is made up of 18 different tribes but only 4 tribes have gained recognition for their artistic endeavours. The Bushongo, Ngende, Ngongo and Shoowa.

The Kuba’s primary contemporary use of the textile is at funerals of wealthy elders and sometimes weddings.

The Kuba textile was also use as a currency.

 

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Picture credits: http://pandorasantafe.com/kuba-cloth-from-africa/

 

There are four major techniques for producing finished Kuba cloth: embroidery, applique, patchwork and dyeing.

Embroideries, often called “Kuba velours”, have a velvet-like texture while the uncut variety display similar pattern work with a flat appearance.

The applique and patchwork are mirror images of each other. The former required attaching additional pieces of fabric to a base cloth to create a pattern effect. The latter involves cutting away pieces of the base cloth to create a pattern then filling in the gaps by patching the front or back of the base cloth with fabric in the shape of the missing piece.

 

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Picture credit : https://duarra.com

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What you need to know about your skins and the skincare staples.

What you need to know about your skins and the skincare staples.

Assessing your skin type is necessary for creating an effective skin care routine. It’s important to know where you fall in the spectrum of possibilities because skincare products are specifically designed to work for certain skin types.

How to find out what kind of skin you have?

1 / OILY

Shiny, slick, often thick skin.

Absorbs powder readily and begs for more.

Large pores on the T-zone (forehead, nose and cheeks).

Oil-based moisturizers are not absorbed by the skin.

 

 2 / DRY

Dull, thin and flaky skin.

Quickly becomes chapped and parched.

Soaks up moisture and thirsts for more.

Pores may appear virtually invisible.

Fine lines and wrinkles are more apparent.

 

3 / COMBINATION

Combination is skin is characterized as either combination-oily or combination-dry.

Having otherwise normal skin with an oily t-zone is characteristic of combo-oily skin.

Normal skin that sometimes experiences dryness is indicative of combo-dry skin.

 

4 / NORMAL

Skin is naturally moisturized without looking too dry or oily.

Does not require additional oil control or hydration throughout the day.

Pores do not appear to be overly large or extremely small.

 

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Each of the basic types of skin is both a blessing and a curse. If you have oily skin, you have your own natural moisturizer and less tendency toward wrinkles. But you’ll have more of a tendency toward acne and larger pores.

If you have dry skin, you’ll have a greater tendency toward wrinkles but much less tendency toward acne and large pores. There’s something positive about each skin type.

Black skin tends to be more often have combination and oily skin. The Key to taking care of your skin correctly is making sure that you are aware of your skin type and treat it accordingly. Therefore, having the right products that work with your skin type will have you looking great every day.

This does not mean that you fully need to change your skin care routine. If you have staples that work keep them. But what all the skin types have in common is that they need skin care essentials. Here are skin care products that have proven useful over the years with good science to be beneficial for your skin.

CLEANSERS

Using a cleanser for 30 seconds a day not only has a therapeutic effect on your skin but is also good enough to wash away the dirt and harshness of every day weather. Contrary to popular beliefs, your skin does not have to feel squeaky clean in order to be clean.

MOISTURISERS

Moisturisers are worth using especially if you have dry skin, they will help you prevent fine lines and improve the appearance of your skin over time. Here are my tips on how to get the most out of your moisturizer:

  • If you have oily skin, use a moisturizer like a gel that will hydrate (add water to) your skin but won’t add more oil.
  • If you have normal skin, use a lotion or light cream.
  • If you are very dry, use a heavy cream that takes a minute or two to absorb into your skin. Apply it more frequently than once or twice a day.
  • Everyone should use a moisturizer around their eye area and on their necks, because we all have very few oil glands in those areas.
  • If you’re oily through the T-zone area, just use your moisturizer on your eye area, your cheeks, and your neck.

 

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SUNSCREENS

Although the melanin in black skin does give some protection, the environment has changed and it is affecting the efficiency of the natural sun block.

Although people with dark skin may not sunburn as easily as those with fair skin, they are still at risk of skin damage from excessive sun exposure.

People with light skin types have a much higher incidence of skin cancer than people with dark skin types. But having dark skin is not a guarantee against skin cancer.

Sunscreen is the most important product you can use on your skin every day. It should be at the top of your list of skin care essentials.

The more damage to your skin cells from sunlight that you can prevent, the better your skin will be for years to come. If you have pre-teen or teenage children, particularly if you live in a sunny climate, encourage them to start using sunscreen on their faces everyday.

Sunscreens and sun protection are the single best way to prevent prematurely aged skin, age spots, brown spots, leathery-looking skin, and the deadly skin cancer, melanoma. In fact, melanoma is the biggest cause of cancer deaths among kids in their twenties. Choose a sunscreen based on your skin type, your climate, and the intensity of your sun exposure.

  • For oily skin, choose a powder or very light lotion for your sunscreen.
  • For normal skin, choose a lotion or a light cream, and for dry skin, a rich cream.
  • For mature and drier skin, look for a sunscreen that adds some repair to it.

That is a lot of information but remember that skin is not only the biggest organ in the human body it is as vulnerable, on your face especially, as the rest of your organs. So, whilst you make sure that you have healthy heart, liver and kidney, do not forget to take care of your skin also.

Article by Gaelle Mokoy for ESIMBI magazine

Ways to refashioning the future of African fashion from an expert.

Ways to refashioning the future of African fashion from an expert.
Leanne is the founder of the platform called Refashionafrica which is dedicated to African Fashion. It serves as a fashionable eye on urban Africa and its various styles.

 

Could you please tell me about your background? 
I have a commercial, marketing and branding background. Prior to founding Refashion Africa I also had my own marketing and sponsorship agency.
Do you really think the African continent is ready for a Vogue Africa? If so why?
I do think it’s time. As I tried to lay out in my article for the “Business of Fashion” website,  we have proven long term economic growth with future prospects, a vibrant fashion eco-system which still has its challenges but I feel must be represented in an authentic way. We have an affluent class and a growing consumer class which will be driving the new modern African narrative. We are more inter-connected than ever before and already have luxury brands present on the continent.
African Vogue could have been the unity element between all the african nations, do you think this may be why, the western media has not given it a chance yet?
I am not sure about that. But what I know is this, this is about us, in Africa. We are a force and the African Renaissance is underway. We must continue to make our own tables and take our place on the global stage.
With South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana leading the fashion industry on the continent, how do you imagine the infrastructure of an African Vogue?
I imagine that the engine driving Vogue Africa will be the best creatives, digital, commercial, communications, publishing, etc… African talent, in other words a collective effort to create a narrative that reflects what is happening inside the continent from major fashion cities to capture the African Zeitgeist and elevate our stories. We need an attitude of openness and willingness from many parties not fingering strong leadership.
You are a very successful writer, what is your opinion about diversity and how social media is helping break barriers globally in the beauty industry? Can the fashion industry follow?
There is continuous pressure for things to change. In the new world diversity is key. The world is in a state of continuous flux and more change is coming. Technological change is a major force shapeshifting the future, and in Africa we have a very high adoption rate for example of mobile technology. Expect new conversations, new ideas, to go beyond what was once thought impossible.
What is the next step for African fashion if this magazine doesn’t not happen in the next 3 years?
African fashion is not dependent on a Vogue Africa happening or not. It will continue from strength to strength, no doubt. We are a force to be reckoned with and Vogue Africa shouldn’t feel like this far fetched idea.

This is why Africans are rejecting the idea of a Vogue Africa!

This is why Africans are rejecting the idea of a Vogue Africa!

The past 2 weeks have seen the trending subject of a “Vogue Africa” to finally come to life. Naomi Campbell has sparked a lot of discussions recently around the subject after her trip to Lagos, Nigeria for Arise Fashion Week.

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But, I have not heard one person of African descent actually thinking this is a good idea. It seems like we are once again trying to get some kind of approval from the western media and really there’s no need anymore. We know that Vogue is not interested in the African continent so why force it?

“There should be a Vogue Africa.” “We just had Vogue Arabia — it is the next progression. It has to be.” “Africa has never had the opportunity to be out there and their fabrics and their materials and their designs be accepted on the global platform… it shouldn’t be that way.” Naomi Campbell

I am very much confused by her statement about African Fashion and our fabrics|materials not being”out there”! Do we not see the same images online? African fashion, wax, ankara, from America to Europe, African culture is everywhere!

And thanks to Black Panther, Africans are bolder  than ever before.

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An African inspired editorial in Brazil

They are so many publications by Africans, bringing lights on African cultures, arts, personalities, travel such as New African Woman, Zen Magazine, Fashizblack.

Do we really want another western influence on Africa’s mind? Thats the question some asked.

The continent is working hard to push the boundaries in the fashion industry, via its own merits, and create its own vibes and personally. I feel like it will be very difficult to create an infrastructure around an African Vogue, simply because of the various cultures that we have and the complexity of the market as an all.

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African women have always been strong and determined to get things done on their own terms.  Diversity talks are growing through social media and the global press,  this is surely shaking the beauty industry like never before. Things are happening and it should have been Vogue magazine asking Africans their thoughts on this potential venture.

I think many are upset as this feels like we are begging for the chance to prove that Africa can do it too. To make this work, Vogue would need time to study the African market because really there will need to have several versions of the magazine to fit the diversity of our continent.

I do love Naomi, as she is the role model we all look up to. But I feel someone like Iman who invested more into bringing value to women of colour by creating products and engaging with the community, would be a better ambassador for a Vogue Africa.

Naomi’s business sense could definitely lead an edition. I actually thought by coming to Africa, she would have perhaps done an African version of her show The face. This would definitely be a success given the minority of black models still in the global market.

In 2010, Paris based photographer Mario Epanya created series of fictional ” Vogue Africa ” covers, which unfortunately were not enough to convince the mainstream media that Africa was ready to join the elite publication.His work is certainly noticed now as it has been used in every recent articles talking about the Vogue Africa subject.

This trending subject needs to teach us that we need to stop chasing this nonsense approval. Africans can represent their own cultures. What we need is for our governments to invest in the arts and cultures sector. We need to keep standing on our own feet and lead our way.

This is the reason why we launched ESIMBI Magazine, to be able to tell our own stories truthfully. Africa’s time is now but that way needs to be led by our own communities.

If Vogue ever decide to do an African version, we would simply ask that they do their best to represent us as we are and not as they want us to be.

 

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How to do Sunday Brunch in london?

How to do Sunday Brunch in london?

Living in London for 10 years has been a food experience I never imagined. I moved here when I was almost 20 and was very soon blessed with friends who were born here to show me around. They made the first 3 years of my life in London town a real rollercoaster of parties and eating out. I lived in the Notting Hill area for 5 years so I must admit that our party scenes were mainly the West End, Mayfair and Chelsea.

The West End has changed so much in the past few years and my party girl days are gone… I still appreciate a good party as I love to dance but I am a bit more picky in choosing where I go. And maybe it is the growing up, but I love quality time. ( meaning staying at home and being warm, ha ha ah )

I wanted to share my favourite places for Sunday brunch in the past years. I am trying out new places but sometimes, you like a venue not for what it is but the memories attached to it. With life happening so fast, I want to discover new things and keep my memories alive whilst making new ones.


 

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 1.   THE BOTANIST, 7 Sloane Square, London SW1W 8EE, +44(0)20 7730 0077

We enjoyed a healthy brunch in one of Chelsea’s chicest restaurants. The menu is packed with all the mid-morning essentials such as sweetcorn fritters and their legendary blueberry buttermilk pancakes. I don’t drink alcohol so a place that provides a good list of non alcoholic cocktails is a must, because I can’t drink orange juice forever. No brunch at The Botanist would be complete without one or two of their infamous cocktails.

 

 

All photos credits to the Botanist Instagram page and Bookatable


 

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  2.   HAKKASAN HANWAY, 8 Hanway Place, London W1T 1HD, +44(0)20 7927 7000

Hakkasan has been celebrating an ancient Chinese culinary ritual with “Dim Sum Sundays” for the past few years. This experience was created by Chef Wah Ho Hip, Hakkasan Hanway Place’s Chef de Cuisine and it is definitely worth a visit or more.

Calm, tranquillity and humility were translated into a simple, elegant, vibrant experience that is true to their Chinese heritage. They have a space called the Ling Ling orchestrated by a resident DJ, DJ Pathaan, which I thought was quite interesting. My favourite dishes were the Crispy duck salad, Chinese chive dumpling with prawn and crabmeat, and the Stir-fry black pepper rib eye beef with merlot. What a feast!

My guest’s brunch menu included a cocktail from Hakkasan’s award-winning list and I had the Coco Passion which is a combination of Coconut, passion fruit, almond syrup and coconut water.

 

 

All photos credits to Hakkasan’s website


 

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3.   BLUEBIRD, 350 King’s Road, London SW3 5UU, +44(0)20 3589 2077

‘The Bluebird Brunch’ is an all-day brunch party taking place once a month in the first floor restaurant and bar, in Chelsea’s King’s road. Matt Robinson (the head chef) created an exciting menu boasting dishes such as Smoked chicken quesadillas, Veal Holstein and Smoked salmon and caviar Croque Monsieur as well as traditional favourites like Eggs Benedict. There was a Bloody Mary trolley wheeled throughout the restaurant, letting diners create their own cocktails at the table. Behind the decks, DJs like Malin, James Levey and Seb Fontaine casually provide beats perfect for daytime dancing, looking out over the courtyard and bustling King’s Road below.

 

 

All photos credits to Bluebird restaurant’s website

 

I hope this will be useful to you. There are so many other places and I would love to hear which ones you recommend.

Why diversity is more than just a trend in the beauty industry?

Why diversity is more than just a trend in the beauty industry?

“Diversity must be applied on all level of a company not just one.”

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The Luxe Beauty Soiree was both an eye opening and inspiring gathering. My invitation came from my friend who is the founder of glossy magazine GlamAfrica. I have known Chioma since the beginning of her publication and she is probably one of the most amazing lady boss who does not stop.

I was not sure what to expect when I arrived at the event. It was snowing in London and that’s never a good start of the day. But on that Saturday morning, I was convinced that attending this event could teach me a thing or two, and I was not disappointed.

Co-Founder Chioma Onwutalobi said “Finally we can talk about diversity openly in an environment that houses the decision makers at key organisations, so we move away from just speaking about these issues to seeing action in the real world.”

I found myself in a room filled with beauty experts, professionals, fashion and beauty bloggers who came together to learn, network and discuss the many facets of diversity in the beauty and lifestyle industry. The event had a few public figures on the panel, such as Irene Major, who came to talk about skin bleaching/tanning and their side effects.

This was unfortunately for me the boring panel because it seems like people were holding back on really giving their opinion. The subject is obviously sensitive for some people because at the end of the day, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Right?

Well, yes but you were invited on the panel to elaborate on this delicate topic!!! This is what the voice in my head was shouting.  Anyway… self-control is gold my dear.

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The rest of the day was filled with product demonstrations, tutorials from skin care to hair and cosmetics. It was all interactive so the guests could participate and ask questions. The management did the great job choosing the subject because this is what the general public really cares about. Nothing was really taboo and it was nice to be in a place where so many cultures came together to talk about things that matters to them.

I very much enjoyed the presentation done by the three ambassadors from the changing Faces charity. They help people with disfigurements and I must say, I almost cried listening to one of the stories. Not only these women were inspiring through their actions but their strength was shining through. I definitely want to contribute to their cause.

 

“This meeting was so relevant to me as a woman of colour, in my everyday role as a consultant dermatologist. Especially discussion around defying stereotypes in the workplace, representation in the media, skin bleaching, hair loss and the demonstrations on skincare and makeup for women of colour. Definitely looking forward to more.” Dr Shaaira Nasir – Consultant Dermatologist (Quoted on social media post event)

“We don’t have to bend our beliefs and adapt ourselves to be acceptable to anyone else. We don’t need to become palatable and hide who we are. For me, this event was about acceptance of each other, but primarily acceptance of ourselves. So many women were able to open up about the pressure and fear of looking different or being different, that they have to assimilate and that must change.” Narjice Basaran – PR consultant and Cofounder of PureModus.com

The Luxe Beauty Soiree last week was the launch event to prepare for something bigger in the coming months. This aims to be a contemporary educational platform, for people to come together to learn about the beauty and lifestyle industries, organising masterclasses and events where honest discussions will be a must.

They want to promote a change in thinking for both the beauty industry and the consumers. The greatest impact of this event came from the industry experts who gave eye opening account of how truly difficult it is to get right with their products and marketing campaigns. The change will have to be a collective effort; understanding that real change will come about when everyone embraces diversity as an all.