Water Carry Me Go Artist Profile: Ashley Alexis McFarlane (Canada/Jamaica)

In anticipation of the fashion-art exhibit Water Carry Me Go, we’ve created a series introducing all of the designers involved. Read the rest of them here.

Ashley Alexis McFarlane – Canada/Jamaica

ashley alexis McFarlane

Ashley Alexis McFarlane is the woman behind Asikere Afana – A sensual blend of African-inspired fashion, timeless trends, and curated textiles, made in Ghana with 100% cotton and fair trade. Asikere Afana translates to ‘sugar machete’ in the Akan Twi language. It is an ode to founder Ashley Alexis McFarlane’s Caribbean roots – her recent ancestors, the Jamaican Maroons, spoke Twi among other African dialects. Ashley’s main goal with her brand is to deliver authenticity throughout her designs while giving back to the West African Community. Asikere Afana was recently showcased at the 2015 New York Fashion Week [Africa]. We’re proud to introduce Alexis as one of the featured artists in Water Carry Me Go.

How did you approach the theme of water for your piece in Water Carry Me Go?

I approached the theme of water in the same way that I approach all of my designs—by attempting to capture its essence through weaving in stylistic elements from different periods of time. The simplicity of the cut of the cape and the bodice harken to ancient greco and Egyptian design. This forms the fundamentals of the ever popular boho 1970’s aesthetic. The skirt features underlining that replicates the structure and boning of garments from the 18th century. The use of copper adds a surreal futuristic element. It’s like there is this need for water to protect itself in the future, and even now, from human kind. The spirit of water is always evolving, and this evolution is dependent on how beings on the planet interact with it.

What motivated you to be involved in this project?

I knew this project was for me because I’m a water sign (Pisces, lol!). Beyond that, I was motivated to get involved because I wanted to create a garment that had a spiritual meaning, while combining the three things I love to create with most; ankara, metals, and precious gems. In traditional indigenous societies designers are tasked to create clothing for commercial reasons, but also most importantly for ceremony. As a designer specializing in ready to wear garments, I don’t often get the time to sit with a piece and design it for a purpose other than everyday wear. It was nice to really just be able to do what I wanted to do and dream. I liked using materials like copper which are associated with the Yoruba orisha/energy Oshun, and pearls which are associated with the Christian figure Mary and her Egyptian goddess Isis to make something that allowed me to travel through and merge time and cultures.

What does your work space look like right now? Is there anything else you want to add?

My work space is a tangle of fabrics, snacks and my new pet fish Copper. He watches me while I sew and keeps me company. I bought him while I was shopping for the copper for this piece and couldn’t find any in local stores.

Follow me on instagram @asikereafana and visit www.asikereafana.com

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