In April of 2011, Afrotropolis made its debut in Toronto. The creative idea of Toronto fashion designer Chinedu Ukabam of Chinedesign, it featured “live mannequins” displaying the collection in a gallery setting. Afrotropolis was well received by the fashion/arts community, the media and the blogsphere. For all those that have been requesting a sequel, we have some great news! We are pleased to announce that the second installment to this series is currently in the works! Afrotropolis Wanderland will debut in February 2012, sponsored by TD as a part of their Then and Now festival in celebration of Black History Month (CBC Radio and Television are the media partners). Unlike the first, which was composed entirely of Chinedu’s designs, the second installment will be a collaborative effort with other creative minds from the worlds of visual arts, fashion and film to create a universe that commemorates different periods in Black history and celebrates the achievements and cultural beacons of people of African origin.
One element of the Afrotropolis Wanderland exhibit is a short film of the same title, produced specifically for the presentation. Written by Chinedu and Co-directed with film maker Marcos Fantu, the film will take viewers on an exploratory journey where the worlds of reality and fantasy are intertwined, through the eyes of a memorable beauty showcasing a few pieces from the new Afrotropolis collection that is currently in the works. Filming of Afrotropolis Wanderland began during the end of November and despite the brisk weather, the team involved was eager to bring the story to life.
Auditions for the face of Afrotropolis started in early November. Frequent Chinedesign collaborator Bridget Ogundipe , who was featured in Encore (Chinedu’s first fashion film), returns to the lend her talent as the Casting Director. It was important to Chinedu and Marcos that the person chosen to play role of Adaeze, the main character, was authentic as possible. The aim was to “find” Adaeze in the real world rather than have somebody play her. With this in mind, Bridget came up with a list of models that already looked the part of Adaeze as she was described in the script. They were all called in for what they thought was a regular fitting for a fashion show and then auditioned on the spot for the film without any warning or preparation-time. The panel was impressed with Queenette Olu’s innate ability to really “be” in the moment and her poised yet expressive face that had the potential to convey the emotive nuances that a silent film like this would require in the absence of dialogue. After seeing Queenette, the second day of auditions was merely a formality. They already knew she was THE one!
Set design was an integral element of this short film. Set designers, Shannon Doyle and Mariuxi Zambrano(who is simultaneously documenting the behind the scenes action with these photographs) worked endless hours to help bring the story to life, scouring props from different sources and carving wood and soldering metal to create the objects that only exist in the imagination. Now that the bulk of the filming is wrapped up, they have started working on the set design for the physical presentation space.
Without giving away to0 much of the film, it is important to introduce the “red door”. The colour red is often times associated with danger, love or sex. Depending on the culture, red can hold various meanings. In China it is considered to mean fortune and happiness, while in Central Africa, red is the symbol of life and health, and worn during celebrations. The red door in Afrotroplolis Wanderland signifies the undiscovered and acts a portal that transports the main character to different planes in the Afrotropolis universe.
We are too excited to wait till February to show you everything so for the next few weeks leading up to the exhibition we will be giving you an exclusive look behind the scenes of this ambitious amazing project right here on this blog. Stay tuned!