Too often the image of Africa is one of
civil war and famine that overshadows the positive image of extraordinary
creativity and artistry passed down from generation to generation.Ē Today,
African fabric and African-inspired clothing is fashionable and can be worn
throughout the year for various occasions including bridal, formal and
While traditional African attire is
generally loose fitting, many designers are tailoring their afrocentric wear
to a more fitted Western style with ethnic accents. Wedding gowns made
using African fabric can be decorated with hand stitched embroidery, cowrie
shells, trims or beads, or adinkra symbols. The
Adinkra symbols are small,
symbolic pictures used to decorate colorful patterned cloth by fabric
designers in Ghana. These symbols are usually embroidered onto African
attire for bridal, formal or special occasions.
For example, Gye Nyame is an Adinkra symbol
representing the omnipotence of God and immortality of God is hand
embroidered onto a wedding dress in the TeKay Designs Sankofa
The Gye Nyame
symbol, a prominent symbol on the African chiefís clothing, is a greatly
cherished and highly respected symbol in Ghana especially for the Akan
| Another afrocentric wedding dress
in the TeKay Designs Sankofa Collection
has exquisite gold embroidered Akofena symbols representing the state ceremonial sword in Ghana, West
An example of traditional style African
attire is the buba (a loose fitting blouse), wrapper (wrap-around skirt) and
headtie (a piece of cloth that can be tied in a variety of ways). The
traditional African menís suit is typically comprised of the daishiki
(shirt), trousers, and kuffi (cap). The agbada (gown) can also be worn over
the daishiki and trousers. African attire is usually made of African
fabrics such as Guinea brocade (bazin), Aso-ake, george or kente. African
bridal and formal wear can be made of dupioni, peau de soie, satin, and
jacquard. African wear can be worn to Church, evening, bridal, formal,
office or casual occasions.
Guinea brocade (or bazin) is a jacquard weave with an
attractive luster sheen that has interwoven designs of objects such as
stars, moons, flowers or other symbols. Dresses, suits, and shirts made of
Guinea brocade with embroidery are quite popular and can be worn throughout
the year to a variety of occasions ranging from casual to formal.
African wax print
fabrics are among the most colorful and dynamic in the world.
Although the designs are pure African, majority of the African wax print
fabrics are printed in England and Holland as the prestige fabrics for the
West African market.
Aso-ake is worn for ceremonial occasions such
as weddings and naming ceremonies throughout south west Nigeria. Aso-ake
had shiny metallic lurex and brightly colored rayon threads. In the U.S.,
wedding attire made of Aso-ake are prestigious, rare, and usually more
expensive than outfits made from other African fabric.
George is a hand woven poly/cotton fabric
suitable for any elegant occasion. This luxurious fabric is designed in
square panel repeats. The geometric borders are woven with gold lurex
threads along with a beaded pearl trim. George fabric is available in a
variety of colors such as Red and Gold, Purple and Gold, Green and Gold,
Black and Gold, etc.
- The origins of kente cloth date back to 12th century Africa, in the
country of Ghana. The cloth was worn by Kings, Queens, and important figures
of state in Ghana's society, during ceremonial events and special
occasions. Kente cloth represents the history, philosophy, ethics, and
moral values in African culture. Today as African Americans gain a renewed
sense of pride for their motherland, Africa, they wear Kente cloth for
fashion, inspiration, and as a reflection of the artistic nature of their
African ancestors from Ghana. Hand woven kente made in Ghana has a higher
quality and is more expensive than mass produced machine made kente that is
usually imported from the Far East.
is an elegant fabric woven with slubbed yarns of silk dupioni. Silk dupioni
fabric is light to medium in weight, with a dull luster. For centuries silk
has had a reputation as a luxurious and sensuous fabric, one associated with
wealth and success. Silk is the premier wedding fabric for softness, luster
and beauty. Silk retains its shape, drapes well, caresses the figure, and
shimmers with a luster all its own. Silk is elegant, versatile and
washable. Ethnic silk garments range from evening wear to bridal wear.
Peau de soie - In French means silk skin and
has a dull luster. Soft silk (or manufactured fiber) in satin weave. Peau
de soie is a heavy, smooth satin with very fine ribbing. African wedding
gowns can be made of peau de soie and adorned with gold or colorful
Satin - A tightly woven
effect that creates a fabric with a beautiful sheen on one side. Typically
made in man-made fabrics such as polyester, satin is probably the most
common bridal-gown fabric finish. While satin is most often associated with
a high-gloss look, it is also available in a matte finish with a toned-down
Jacquard is a weave. Damask is a jacquard
woven fabric and a term used for a wide variety of jacquard woven fabrics.
African clothing made of jacquard have a luxurious sheen and is very
eye-catching. Gowns and skirt suits made of jacquard can be worn to Church
and other special occasions.
Where can one get
African bridal and formal attire?
Established in 1998,
TeKay Designs has been designing ethnic wedding gowns, ethnic womenís and
menís clothing. Seizing the opportunity to showcase custom African attire
for men and women including ethnic wedding dresses,
the company has two collections Ė The Sankofa Collection and the newly
released Gold Collection. The ethnic wedding gowns are made of gorgeous dupioni silk, Guinea brocade, embroidered laces, satins, beads and trims
designed for brides who want a European cut with ethnic appeal.
Designer Kimma Wreh has been exposed to
diverse ethnic cultures and fashions where she worked with talented local
tailors and artists in Ghana (the former Gold Coast), India, Brazil and
Our vision is to display Afrocentric and
ethnic wedding gowns, bridal and formal wear for women and men in
conjunction with African arts and crafts to the U.S. and international
The word "Sankofa" means "Going Back To Your
Roots". "We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward and
understand why and how we came to be who we are today."
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