When you think of dynamism, innovation and thought leadership, what do you imagine? I bet you're thinking about Facebook, Snapchat, political leaders and cutting edge concepts.
Let's stop right there. 21st century norms and systems have conditioned us to think that only the great, crème de la crème of society can reach the top and create immense value. From your education right through, you'll be prepared to get a job or maybe start a business, but is that progressive?
Our society needs social leaders - people willing to wear their hearts on their sleeves and stand up for what they believe in to bring about the change this world needs in so many aspects.
I met two incredible people doing that just this week. Joy Donnell and Jordan Anthony Swain joined me for a deep conversation about their latest hit campaign 'What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion'.
Vanichi Magazine has partnered with The Africa Channel to present a PSA that expands the definitions of mainstream fashion. What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion? (#WIMIWAF) is a creative fashion editorial that reimagines iconic Hollywood film characters in modern, handcrafted fashion from designers of Africa and the Diaspora. The concept was devised by Vanichi's Editor-in-Chief Joy Donnell and Joy served as Co-Creative Director alongside Jordan Anthony Swain, Vanichi's Global Creative Director.
My conversation with Joy and Jordan touched on the beauty in simplicity, the values behind what diversity really means and how we can all live a more purposeful, harmonious and entrepreneurial life expressing our individuality so naturally.
Joy says: "Movies can teach us how to dream. They ignite our imaginations. They tap into our deepest humanity. They help us escape. They fire us up. They're the art of making make-believe feel tangible. That's why billions of dollars are allotted around the world every year on every continent to bring a story to the screen. Often, we find ourselves drawn to certain characters that become iconic for the things they say, the obstacles they overcome, and even the things they wear.
Some of these films become permanently embedded in culture for their design elements alone. In these cases we see the fashions on the screen inform the runway, too. For instance, a 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio inspired numerous fashion collections from Banana Republic to Marchesa. The film even won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. That's just one example of how one movie affected pop culture almost instantaneously.
If movies wield this type of power, it's not a stretch to say that they can also expand our definitions of what is "mainstream." The fashions we see on these characters can create trends or have longer resonance, becoming the new classics.
Yet, diversity has been an ongoing problem in Hollywood and affects things both behind and in front of the camera. In some cases, the hierarchy of power structures have kept some cultures from ever being part of the dialogue in the first place, although that culture itself has often been a source of inspiration or a backdrop within the plot structure.
I've watched Hollywood movies my entire life. I've seen films set in 1940's Vietnam to 1990's Congo. Yet, I can't really recall a main character that is considered "iconic" that dressed in fashions that weren't designed by European brands or the European Diaspora. So I wanted to ask a different question: What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion?
The Africa Channel wants to answer this question. As an award-winning network, The Africa Channel showcases the African continent's most outstanding English language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, biographies and more. Its programming presents a window into the complexity and richness of modern African life, thus demystifying the continent for an American audience.
The Africa Channel and Vanichi partnered to present What If Movie Icons Wore African Fashion? as more than an editorial. #WIMIWAF is a public service announcement to telescope and celebrate the diverse fashion emerging from Africa and its people. Designers featured range from couture to ready to wear labels and clothing to handmade accessories and jewelry. Within these looks, viewers will find exquisite examples of tailoring, beadwork, leathersmithing, metalworking and innovative design that is inherent to the peoples of Africa.
We chose 10 iconic movie characters to serve as inspiration." See their campaign here: http://vanichi.com/wimiwaf/what-if-movie-icons-wore-african-fashion/.