Multi award photographer Swedish Per-Anders Pettersson has brought to life another interesting yet provocative editorial project. With his ‘African Catwalk’ work, he manages to portrait the African continent and its fast growing fashion industry under a fresh and sometimes unexpected look, a look based on the several fashion shows he attended and covered, in over 40 Fashion Weeks across Africa, photographing in 16 countries from 2010-2015,
‘African Catwalk’ takes you on a behind the scenes look at the burgeoning African Fashion Industry. This book is the first time the emerging African fashion industry has been documented in exclusive behind the scenes photographs. The series was taken in 16 countries around Africa from 2010 – 2015 and celebrates a new, vibrant, colorful, and unexpected view of the African continent. Pettersson’s images are not only set to challenge stereotypes in African fashion which include animal prints and ethnic designs, but are also meant to confront the »Western gaze,« a media misperception in which Africa is but a war-torn continent rampant with poverty, diseases and ethnic conflicts. We, therefore had a lot to ask him and felt privileged that we could do so.
When did you first attend a fashion show in Africa? How would you describe the whole experience?
I attended the first one I n 2009. I was directly fascinated by the raw beauty of the designs, the shows and the models. Many times they are held as installations in very interesting locations. The chaos and beauty makes it a fascinating place to photograph.
What are the main characteristics of ‘African fashion’ and how far are those from the western stereotypic view of African aesthetics, in your own view?
There are local fabrics in different regions such as Ankara
Others are hand made from traditional methods in countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso. We can say African fashion is colorful. It’s usually the case. Africans use more printed motives and strong color.
Is fashion in Africa a way of reconciling with a troubled past (see apartheid etc.) through creativity?
I think it used to be a bit like that. You could see images of political icons and shows with political theme. Lately, everything is just business. Most people, including the youth, are not interested in politics. They are only interested in getting a head in life. Education, wealth, shopping etc. They desire all the things people want in the rest of the world. I think that is
why many foreign brands are now looking at African and entering Africa. Now is the time.
Photopgrapher: Per-Anders Pettersson
Designed by Kehrer Design (Hannah Feldmeier)