Nwékpé mask from Ibom village on Nkwo Ekpe Ibom day of the Ikeji. Ibom Village, Arochukwu, September 23, 1988. Nwekpe is a benign (i.e., not aggressive) type of mask with an anthropomorphic headdress. Photo: Eli Bentor
African Arts, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Winter, 2005), Eli Bentor.
Launched last month, Wafrica — Africa plus wa for Japan — has unveiled a range of kimono handcrafted in an array of African cotton fabrics that would seem to be a million miles from the subtle silks more commonly associated with traditional Japanese dress. Yet despite the orange comets and flashes of lightning tearing across a moss-green background, and the tribal swirls in colors that recall the sun-drenched African soil, the prints blend seamlessly into the kimono form before they surprise Japanese shoppers with their foreign origin.
The cultural cocktail is the brainchild of Serge Mouangue, a Tokyo-based concept- car designer for Nissan, who joined forces with Kururi, a Tokyo-based kimono- maker, to produce the traditional Japanese attire in 18 African prints sourced in markets from Nigeria to Senegal.
Serge Mouange introduces the WAfrica concept and kimono (Fashion show)