Fashion expert, Helen Jennings, reveals the hidden potential of Africa

Helen Jennings is editor of ARISE, the London-based quarterly magazine dedicated to global African fashion, music, culture and society. Helen's new book gives a brief history of style and beauty from Africa and profiles the best contemporary designers, models and photographers working today.

New African fashion

Helen Jennings expresses her affinity for African fashion

London, England (CNN) -- As a style journalist for over ten years, I've made it my business to scour the world in search of fresh and innovative fashion. And since launching ARISE, I've honed my sights on Africa.

The position has afforded me an unparalleled opportunity to travel around the continent meeting designers and going behind the scenes of what is fast becoming an influential and meaningful industry.

Whereas previously Africa was only seen as a source of anthropological inspiration for international brands, now its homegrown talents are standing up and being counted too and riding the wave of interest in Africa's broader cultural and economic ascension.

Established names such as Duro Olowu in London, Xuly Bët in Paris, Kofi Ansah in Ghana, Jewel By Lisa in Lagos and Marianne Fassler in Johannesburg are inspiring younger talents while more and more African fashion weeks, magazines, websites, boutiques and schools are blossoming.

I find it a hugely exciting field of fashion that is finally having its moment to shine.

"New African Fashion" is a celebration of this moment. The coffee table book charts the long history and reverence of adornment on the continent, heralds African fashion's early pioneers and profiles the best designers, models and street style photographers prospering today.

Helen Jennings top five African designers

1. Gloria Wavamunno

2. Maki Oh

3. Black Coffee

4. Stiaan Louw

5. Christie Brown

Jennings, is a real angel, she has realized the potential in Africa,and wants to expose it to the world. Here is the full article courtesy of CNN. Fashion expert,Helen Jennings reveals the hidden potential of Africa

In the last couple of weeks, I have been exposing the world to Africa, as the continent contributes heavily to the fashion industry. One thing that stands out for me, is that most of the African designers are very unique. I believe this can add a new exciting flavor to the world of fashion.

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Designers Show their Love of African Fashion

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African-inspired fashion design was a definite trend on the catwalks of the four major fashion shows for spring/summer 2012. Read on for a round up of just a few of the designers who showed their appreciation of African design.

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Designers Take a Fresh Look at Africa

IN the years since Yves Saint Laurent showed his iconic 1967 “African” collection, fashion designers have repeatedly tapped the heritage of Africa in search of inspiration. Just last season Burberry and Michael Kors were among several labels that mined the continent as a source of ideas.

Yet in the popular imagination, especially in the Western hemisphere, African fashion more often than not means animal prints, mud cloth and cowrie shells. In her new work, “New African Fashion”, Helen Jennings, a fashion journalist, hopes to broaden that view. Part coffee-table book, part glossary, it highlights designers — some established, some fledgling — whose work is African made or inspired.

While there is no single way to describe African style, the fashion industry tends to favor characterizations that to many people smack of condescension. “Fashion is full of meaningless terms like ‘tribal’ and ‘urban,’ ” said Ms. Jennings, who is also the editor of Arise, a two-year-old monthly African fashion and culture glossy. “Like the word ‘exotic’ — it makes me cringe.”

Helen Jennings clearly does not like the way the fashion industry tends to marginalize Africa's contribution. She believes that Africa needs more recognition, and can add a welcome dimension to the fashion industry. There is so much more Africa can offer. Read the full article by the New York Times