Interview With A Black Woman Stylist
What image do you have when someone talks about African and Diaspora fashion? The vast majority of people imagine colours, prints and ruffles. Invariably and sadly, everything we think about an entire continent is ruled by schism. We envision a whole continent as exotic, miserable and that "needs our charity". We forget how plurality is possible. When I met the brand of ANGELA BRITO, from Cape Verdean Angela Brito, I thought: that's what I was looking for!
Through a sophisticated and minimalist design, full of cut and at the same time discreet, Angela Brito shows her identity, honours its origins and with this shows that there is an incredible job being done by black women - and has not received the deserved distinction still. When I saw Angela's work, I thought that her dresses, overalls, skirts, colours and even the aesthetic form that presents her work are inspiring.
Today we talk so much about highlighting the work of black people and Diaspora women, and Angela has been working for four years with a design that needs to be emphasised and valued. Angela needs to be in parades that appreciate young designers. Angela needs to be known to us, black people, and also to those who are not. Angela needs to have her beautiful works recognised. This is an attempt to do this. Know the work of Angela Brito from the interview she had in Brazil with someone whose identity would instead be withheld.
What influenced you to become a stylist?
I grew up in Cape Verde in the 1980s, and there was no access to clothing like today. My mother used to sew - well, by the way - all our clothes and I, the oldest of five siblings, liked to help her. What amused me most was to scratch and organise the modelling. Over time, I started to sew some of them, and so it was ... All my passion and my work began as a child's play.
When I saw that the clothes that Chimamanda wears are of Nigerian stylists, I was delighted. I thought how their design did not fit the idea of African fashion that many people stereotyped. How do you think your roots influence your aesthetic?
Africa is a continent. Each country has a complex cultural heritage and, despite the idea of homogeneity, each carries its own aesthetic identity. Another question is the preconceived idea about this "African fashion", which fits it into a place outside contemporary times. Expect only ultra-coloured prints with ethnic elements. In Cape Verde, for example, we carry a certain austerity in the cut and colours and an elegance of our own. Since I was a little girl, I was surrounded by a lot of black and white, pleated skirts, tailor shirts and waist to "sulada".
How does this manifest itself in your production and design?
These elements influenced me and are still present in my creations. Tailoring comes from the Cape Verdean cradle, but these elements began to dialogue with the idea of deconstruction and asymmetry after many years working in the technological area when numbers were part of my daily life. This has somehow interfered with the way I see bodies wearing these clothes. I'm in love with this structural, almost engineering, dress.
Finally, have you faced any difficulties as a black and foreign entrepreneur in Brazil?
They always ask me that question. I believe that not only here, but for being black and having spent more than half of my life as a foreigner (before Portugal and then Brazil), I inhabit a non-place in the world and in fashion. When you are out of your country, it is like floating on the edge amidst an ocean of possibilities, but as I was born on an island and I love to swim.
Website: Angela Britto