Beyonce, unarguably has the power to break the internet less with just her body but her entire body of work. The most recent successive internet drop that has fans, stans and haters alike in frantic frenzy is LEMONADE, the visual album.
The hour-long visual preview of the album, broadcast on HBO, has Beyonce taking viewers through a string of poetic resonance and highly charged visual aesthetics. With her platform, she presents the audience to an already known cast of star players, like globally known super athlete Serena Williams and former Disney child star Zendaya, making outrageous cameo appearances….cue Serena twerking for B while she sits on her throne!
New to the global audience the Beyoncé effect avails you to Somalian poet Warsan Shire and Nigerian lawyer turned artist Laolu Senbanjo whose recent art project “Sacred Art of Ori” makes several visual appearances in the LEMONADE visual anthology.
Much like Beyonce’s past and present enthusiasm to merge art, fashion and music, Nigerian fashion designer Mai Atafo is a futuristic trend dictator.
Mai Atafo created an androgynous collection, a fusion of cultural inspiration majorly from the traditional male attire from the “south south” of Nigeria and an understanding of the female form to create what he called “Etibo Woko” for Spring/Summer 2015, a wearable androgynous and culturally forward collection.
He is front lining production innovation by taking a cue from Savile Row to mastering the craft of menswear tailoring by being the first African Designer to employ the Savile Row Academy to further train his tailors at his factory in Lagos, Nigeria.
Mai Atafo much like Beyoncé, sees how art can be a pool of inspiration. Beyoncé uses Laolu Senbanjo’s Sacred Art of Ori as an African undertone for the “Back to the Roots” vibe seen is some of the videos featured in LEMONADE.
Mai in his last Spring/Summer 16 collection “WomanUp” a western inspired collection for his women’s wear line played on menswear tailoring and vibrant colors like mustard, blue and red, plays on artistic fusion first (shades Beyoncé).
Mai collaborates with Laolu Senbajo by commissioning his art work: “Dreamscape” for print which was featured in the WomanUp Collection.
According to Mai, “The collaboration ties the collection back to Africa and celebrates the spectrum of creativity that radiates from Africans around the world and of course the colors from his art piece spoke to me.”
Whether it’s via collaborations on accessories for his collection or the fusion of music and dance in his presentation, Mai Atafo is one of the few African creatives who constantly finds new ways to push the boundaries of fashion by introducing innovation and fresh twists, either through the clothes directly or via presentation.
As credits go to the global sensation that is Beyoncé, let us take a moment to celebrate one of our own who with his platform that strives for collaboration and unique brand partnerships that all together show the creativity of Nigerians and collectively Africans.