2012 is here and moving quickly! It is already the second week of January, which means Afrotropolis Wanderland is right around the corner!
Taking place on February 4, 2012 and sponsored by TD as a part of their Then and Now festival in celebration of Black History Month, Afrotropolis Wanderland will be a creative experience merging the worlds of visual arts, fashion and film to create a universe that commemorates different periods in Black history and celebrates the achievements of people of African origin. Advance tickets ($20) can be purchased at http://afrotropolis.eventbrite.ca
We tapped into the mind of Chinedu of Chinedesign, the creative director behind the Afrotropolis Wanderland project to gain a better understanding of the show and the entire experience that is Afrotropolis Wanderland.
Q.Where is Aftrotropolis Wanderland?
Chinedu: I could say “Afrotropolis Wanderland is an Afrocentric alternate plane of existence” but that might make it sound more complicated than it actually is. Haha. It’s just a metaphor that I am using to explore different movements and cultural artifacts. In the film a red door represents the portal which allows you to travel to different parts of Afrotropolis. The four themes explored in this show are images of resistance, African ideography, Ananse (a character from West African folklore) and “musical ancestry”.
Q.You recently collaborated with Marcos Fantu to produce a short film for Afrotropolis but you’ve dabbled with film and fashion before, why do you like to combine these two worlds?
Chi: I think of each collection as a story and the thing about a story is that once it’s been fleshed out and developed you can choose to tell it in different forms. So for me going from a fashion collection to a fashion film is not really that different from adapting a novel into a screenplay or turning a poem into a song. By changing the medium, you can add or subtract different dimensions and that is what interests me. I have also wanted to get into film for a while so this gives me an opportunity to learn by doing. Marcos already had previous experience directing short films and music videos and that definitely helped fill in the gaps.
Q. What is the main difference between Afrotropolis part 1 that took place in Spring 2011 and the upcoming Afrotropolis Wanderland? What can people expect to be different?
In comparison, the first Afrotropolis was like a dress rehearsal for this one. It was done on a smaller scale and was invite only. Thanks to the TD sponsorship, this show will be open to the public and will take place at the 99 Sudbury Gallery which is almost 5,000 square feet if I am not mistaken. The first time around we just had the “live mannequins” in the gallery but this time we are augmenting that concept with elaborate set design. I really wanted to bring Afrotropolis to life not just through the clothes but also the environment. Then there’s also the film screening and a runway show and the collaboration with other artists unlike the last show which was just me.
Q. Why was it important to collaborate on this project?
I like working with people that I admire and respect and I had the opportunity to bring them on-board and went for it. The idea of Afrotropolis transcends fashion and I thought it would be interesting to see different interpretations of some of the themes by different types of artists. The synergy has been amazing!
Q. What role do the visual artists play in the project?
Jimmy Chiale and Kalkidan Assefa are creating original artwork to be shown in the gallery. We also collaborated on some really creative textile design for the collection that that you will see on the runway.
Q. In addition to the Afrotropolis show, there will also be a pop-up shop taking place. Can you tell me about more about that?
The SUPAFRIK pop-up shop that we put on this past summer in Kensington Market went really well and we’ve been getting alot of inquiries about it so we decided to dovetail it with the show. In addition to having select pieces and artwork inspired by the collection, the shop will also have some of the books that I drew inspiration from as well as other African-inspired designers and brands that I really like. Hopefully we can do another blog entry entirely dedicated to the pop-up shop so that I can go into more detail about it.
You obviously need imagination to create fashion but sometimes you also need imagination in order to understand it or put it all together. This is why I really admire stylists/photographers that can create editorial looks that are sometimes even more exciting than what the designers sent out on the runway using the same pieces.
Q.How would you describe this Afrotropolis collection?
It is turning out to be my biggest collection to date as far the number and types of pieces in it. I started with the four different themes that I wanted to explore so it is almost like having four collections in one. I designed pieces to connect each mini-collection to the next so that it all flows together when it is shown on the runway. I can show you better than I can tell you so you’ll just have to come to the show!
Afrotropolis Wanderland – Saturday, February 4, 2012
99 Sudbury Gallery, Toronto