Earlier this spring, as my flight touched down in Marrakesh, it occurred to me that I was on my third trip to Africa in as many weeks. Visiting my family and friends in Ghana has, of course, been a part of my life forever, but in recent months, it has been exciting to see how much of my professional life now takes me to all parts of the African continent as well.
This turn of events has happened very naturally. The making of a sizeable portion of the July issue took Vogue’s fashion teams first to Kenya, then to Morocco to chronicle the beautiful wedding of Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre.
I also visited South Africa in April, to attend the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference, and saw Maria Grazia Chiuri’s thoughtful resort show for Dior in Morocco (a project that, through its mindful incorporation of the work of local artisans, championed cultural conversation over appropriation).
Then I spent a whirlwind few days in Nigeria, where Lagos’s Arise Fashion Week continues to redefine our concept of the important role Africa has to play on the worldwide fashion stage.
What struck me most was this: Africa is happening. Until very recently, the word “luxury” was a concept no one associated with the continent – and yet, talking with local creatives in all the countries I visited, I was impressed by a cumulative desire to establish a strong African fashion identity that is transcendent worldwide. Global, not local, is the aspiration – and so, the question is, how do we make that happen?
Energy is a great place to start. It was my first time at Arise, and as I saw shows and met designers such as Kenneth Ize and Tola Adegbite, whose electricity was incredible, it made me think of New York in the early 1980s – inspiration on every corner. A mixture of some hard realities and a yearning for luxury is a potent recipe for new fashion thinking, and you could feel excitement everywhere – adventurous, inquisitive minds coming together to seize a moment.
And the world is noticing, with the LVMH and Kering groups just two fashion conglomerates looking for responsible ways to discover new customers and fresh talent. A lot more is required – not least smart investment and shrewd solutions to the export/import conundrum, both for African fashion consumers and for those wishing to see their designs travel as far as possible. But the momentum is there.
From the creative hubs I visited comes the message that Africa doesn’t have time for the First World’s clichés, and I find it thrilling to think about the creativity explosion we are about to see. Fashion is going to be stronger because of Africa.
This month also marks the return of TV phenomenon Big Little Lies and with it our incandescent cover star, Zoë Kravitz. One of the most talked-about women on the planet, Zoë opens up about her fascinating childhood, her much admired style and her imminent nuptials, as well as giving all the insights from the hottest show on television.
Meanwhile, I am delighted to present this year’s Vogue 25, the magazine’s must-read list of the women who have defined the past 12 months in the life of the nation. From climate change to knife crime, politics to sport, Hollywood to haute couture, we gathered the leaders who are truly shaping our times. It is an honour to shine our spotlight on them.
Feel excited to see the eclectic style images below! Don’t forget to leave your comment in the box, it matters, it’s important.
Photographed by @Steven Maisel
Styled by @Edward_Enninful