Trine Lindegaard | Mind(s) The Credibility Gap

The whole lot becomes some ugly and ignoble affair; every designer ‘inspired by Africa’ a lightly concuss character immunised against contact on the intuition level. The mass clamor of grand sighs on how ‘so-and-so was inspired by Africa’ blended with the general confusion between east and west African cloths, poured over the brain-freeze cocktail of whether Africa is a country or a continent only adds to the general malaise.

 

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Detail of paramount chief’s gold jewelry in Kumasi, Ghana. Photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 1970.
Courtesy of the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution.

 

Animal print is another story. I use animal print all the time, as does Michael Kors; an instance of appropriation-there is no problem with appropriation, it’s another word for inspiration; do we need the leopard’s permission to use its spots in our designs?

I don’t know if that would be possible. The dialogue then becomes something along the lines of how we appropriate a culture with due regard. Everyone knows what tartan is, but do they know its history? Is it essential they do? At the very least we all know that tartan is Scottish. Which actually says we know a helluva lot about it. We’re not just clamoring on about ‘how inspired we were by Europe this season.’ We know the origins.  And therefore how to use it as beautifully and effectively as possible.

William S. Burroughs created new workwith the ‘cut-up;’ creating new meaning out of found words, much the way Duchamp did with urinals. How does this practice apply to designers drawing on inspiration from Africa today? For writers, the rule of thumb is that if a sentence or two is taken from a novel no harm is done. But what if a culture or two is taken from a country? And cut up. In the current fashionable case the affect is not new meaning, but dilution. Akan becomes west African, but usually just African. This is equivalent to tartan becoming just a dish towel. In the case of the patterned cloths sacred to the Akan people; the medieval founders of a vast gold trading empire spanning modern day Ghana and Ivory Coast, simply cutting up their fabrics is not due regard. Perhaps knowing that contemporary Akanmen include Kofi Annan, Kwame Nkrumah and Saville Row tailor Ozwald Boateng would adjust the impulse? 

The majority of African fabrics, like Akan cloths, are an expression of nationality or ritual, or associated with essences like mother earth or maturation, with certain colours reserved exclusively for special occasions, procession or one’s status within their respective culture.

Known for her ongoing romance with textile developments both fragile and tenacious, think hand dipped silks or high-tech sporting materials, Trine Linedegaard, a Danish designer living in London is peeling back the layers with her third collection for her self-titled line, which just so happens to be rooted in west African fabrics.

Actually, they don’t just happen to be rooted there. Which is the beautiful point.

 

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Trine Lindegaard A|W  2013 Collection

 

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Inspired by the wonderful geometrics of the Kita, an Akan fabric, Lindegaard, through a charity organization met the Kwevi family; Ghanian weavers who’ve been weaving these fabrics since 1968. Lindegaard and her team worked closely with the family of weavers to develop a vibrant and refreshing addition to the long line of Akan fabrics, used in her SS13 and AW13 collections. Later adding athletic cuts and active embellishments which make for a modern, wearable collection.

The Akanmen, who traded with Timbuktu during the middle ages height of west African glory, wearing headpieces and wraparound dresses made of the fabric, rose to power during a 13th century gold boom, ultimately leading to their rise as the well known Akan Empire of Ashanti (1701-1957). Today the Ashanti monarchy continues as a constitutionally protected traditional state within contemporary Ghana, their current king, the 16th Ashanti king, Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, who’s coronation was in 1999, still reserves wearing his Akan Kente cloth for special occasions and ceremonial procession. Perhaps it’s time he wore it with shorts and sneakers and a tangerine pill box hat, like Lindegaard wants us to.

 

Trine Lindegaard S | S  2013 Collection

 

Trine Lindegaard S|S 2013

 

About

Trine Lindegaard was born in Odense, Denmark. Having studied industrial pattern cutting and manufacturing at Istituto Carlo Secoli in Milan, she capped her studies at the Royal College of Art in England where she graduated with an MA in menswear in 2010. With her graduate collection Lindegaard was labelled ‘one to watch’ by Vogue.com

trinelindegaard.com

 

 

Written by Kyle Tregurtha

 

Ghana  | Doing our part to combat immappancy

 

Images from the S|S 2013 lookbook features Yuri (M+P Models) photographed by Ivona Chrzastek and styled by Naz & Kusi at Tzarkusi. Lookbook images for A|W 2013 is photographed by Ivona Chrzastek, modeled by Jake at Nevs Models, styling by Joanna Hir and assistant Robert Marciniak,  Make-Up by Michelle Webb, with Millinery by Elaine Keogh and Embroidery by Jessica Ball in collaboration with Fine Cell Work. Trine Lindegaard is available at OTHER shop in London, in store and online.

 

Images courtesy of Trine Lindegaard and the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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