November 22, 2017

Fighting oppression through fashion: Africa’s dandies

The new African aesthetic is not what you’d expect. There are girls dressed like boys and men hoarding money to splash out on expensive luxury shoes.

Now, the Brighton Photo Biennial is turning its focus on these fashion-obsessed millennials by featuring The Dandy Lion Project — a look at black men and women who like to dress provocatively as dandies.
The exhibit has already been across the U.S. and parts of Europe, reaching Amsterdam and now Brighton. But the updated UK edition features women dandies for the first time.
“It’s 2016 and it would be funny to have a conversation about black masculinity and not include women who present as masculine or feminine on that spectrum,” says curator Shantrelle Lewis, who has been amassing images of black dandies since 2010.
Lebogang from fashion collective the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles 2, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
Africa’s style collectives hold global currency — this is the second exhibition in the UK within six months to focus on black dandies, and this style trend has appeared in a recent advert by Guinness, as well as a music video by Beyonce’s sister, Solange.
But it’s more than just fetishism or “poverty porn”, insists Lewis. “People have been shooting black dandies for years,” she acknowledges. “When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who were not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride.”
“The cult of the cloth has been very significant throughout African cultures for millennia,” says Lewis. “It speaks to an African aesthetic that is always persistent throughout the continent and even throughout the diaspora.”

Fighting oppression through fashion: Africa’s dandies.

The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.

Khumbula Family Portrait by Harness Hamese – The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.

"We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them," say the group.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
For every strong woman, there are strong men — Khumbula (2014) by Harness Hamese – “We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them,” say the group.

"It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level," says Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – “It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level,” says Hamese.

"I don't want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes," says Hamese. <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Outkasts – Sunday (2013) by Harness Hamese – “I don’t want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes,” says Hamese.

It's about storytelling insists Hamese, "It's not only about the clothes because I don't photograph clothes I photograph people."<br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – It’s about storytelling insists Hamese, “It’s not only about the clothes because I don’t photograph clothes I photograph people.”

Stunning portraits of world famous beauties
Stunning portraits of world famous beauties
Is this more precious than gold?
Is this more precious than gold?
World Architecture Festival: Living in the clouds
World Architecture Festival: Living in the clouds
The history of fashion photography (abridged)
The history of fashion photography (abridged)
Whether it's Kenya's jet setting grannies or Johannesburg's street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo Biennial's latest exhibition explores.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Queen of Spades — Andile Biyana (2014) by Harness Hamese – Whether it’s Kenya’s jet setting grannies or Johannesburg’s street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo Biennial’s latest exhibition explores.

The Dandy Lion Project looks at African and diasporans who dress provocatively as dandies.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Calligraphist, London, by Sara Shamsavari – The Dandy Lion Project looks at African and diasporans who dress provocatively as dandies.

"When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride," says curator Shantrelle Lewis.<br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series (2012) by Daniele Tamagni – “When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride,” says curator Shantrelle Lewis.

The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Lebogang from the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles series, by Daniele Tamagni – The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.

Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Give thank to thoughtful hands — Bafana Mthembu and Andile Biyana of Khumbula (2013) by Harness Hamese – Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.

He started photographing South Africa's street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means "remember"). <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
When a Black woman prays — Andile Biyanaand the Outkasts (2014) by Harness Hamese – He started photographing South Africa’s street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means “remember”).

The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Khumbula Family Portrait by Harness Hamese – The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.

"We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them," say the group.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
For every strong woman, there are strong men — Khumbula (2014) by Harness Hamese – “We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them,” say the group.

"It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level," says Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – “It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level,” says Hamese.

"I don't want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes," says Hamese. <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Outkasts – Sunday (2013) by Harness Hamese – “I don’t want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes,” says Hamese.

It's about storytelling insists Hamese, "It's not only about the clothes because I don't photograph clothes I photograph people."<br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – It’s about storytelling insists Hamese, “It’s not only about the clothes because I don’t photograph clothes I photograph people.”

Models walk on water as Karl Lagerfeld makes history
Models walk on water as Karl Lagerfeld makes history
Castello di Ama: Where art and wine meet
Castello di Ama: Where art and wine meet
Could this smog-eating tower end pollution?
Could this smog-eating tower end pollution?
Naomi Campbell celebrates 30 years of stardom
Naomi Campbell celebrates 30 years of stardom
Whether it's Kenya's jet setting grannies or Johannesburg's street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo Biennial's latest exhibition explores.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Queen of Spades — Andile Biyana (2014) by Harness Hamese – Whether it’s Kenya’s jet setting grannies or Johannesburg’s street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo Biennial’s latest exhibition explores.

The Dandy Lion Project looks at African and diasporans who dress provocatively as dandies.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Calligraphist, London, by Sara Shamsavari – The Dandy Lion Project looks at African and diasporans who dress provocatively as dandies.

"When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride," says curator Shantrelle Lewis.<br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series (2012) by Daniele Tamagni – “When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride,” says curator Shantrelle Lewis.

The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Lebogang from the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles series, by Daniele Tamagni – The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.

Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Give thank to thoughtful hands — Bafana Mthembu and Andile Biyana of Khumbula (2013) by Harness Hamese – Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.

He started photographing South Africa's street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means "remember"). <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
When a Black woman prays — Andile Biyanaand the Outkasts (2014) by Harness Hamese – He started photographing South Africa’s street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means “remember”).

Dandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonBrighton ExhibitDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonBrighton Exhibit
Story highlights
A new exhibition explores African male and female dandies.
“The cult of the cloth has been very significant throughout African cultures for millennia,” says its curator.
The new African aesthetic is not what you’d expect. There are girls dressed like boys and men hoarding money to splash out on expensive luxury shoes.

Now, the Brighton Photo Biennial is turning its focus on these fashion-obsessed millennials by featuring The Dandy Lion Project — a look at black men and women who like to dress provocatively as dandies.
The exhibit has already been across the U.S. and parts of Europe, reaching Amsterdam and now Brighton. But the updated UK edition features women dandies for the first time.
“It’s 2016 and it would be funny to have a conversation about black masculinity and not include women who present as masculine or feminine on that spectrum,” says curator Shantrelle Lewis, who has been amassing images of black dandies since 2010.
Lebogang from fashion collective the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles 2, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
Lebogang from fashion collective the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles 2, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
Africa’s style collectives hold global currency — this is the second exhibition in the UK within six months to focus on black dandies, and this style trend has appeared in a recent advert by Guinness, as well as a music video by Beyonce’s sister, Solange.
But it’s more than just fetishism or “poverty porn”, insists Lewis. “People have been shooting black dandies for years,” she acknowledges. “When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who were not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride.”
“The cult of the cloth has been very significant throughout African cultures for millennia,” says Lewis. “It speaks to an African aesthetic that is always persistent throughout the continent and even throughout the diaspora.”
Clothing battles
The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
Within the collection are images by Kenyan photographer Osborne Macharia, looking at the fictional league of extravagant grannies, who were former government leaders, as well as Baudouin Mouanda, capturing Congo’s sapeur clothing battles held on the streets of Brazzaville.
The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.
Among them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese. The 30-year-old started his career in photography after developing an interest in black and white images.
A chance meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means “remember”) led him to start documenting their street style.
The idea, both for Khumbula and Hamese was to try to look back at a time in South African history where options were limited for their parents. The images are staged in a way to convey how their parents used fashion as an expression and statement of independence.
“That kind of clothing represents a time in the South African history where our parents used to dress like that,” says Hamese. “A time, when they were very oppressed.”
“For me, it sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves on an appropriate level.”

Fighting oppression through fashion: Africa’s dandies.

The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Khumbula Family Portrait by Harness Hamese – The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.

"We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them," say the group.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
For every strong woman, there are strong men — Khumbula (2014) by Harness Hamese – “We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them,” say the group.

"It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level," says Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – “It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level,” says Hamese.

"I don't want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes," says Hamese. <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Outkasts – Sunday (2013) by Harness Hamese – “I don’t want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes,” says Hamese.

It's about storytelling insists Hamese, "It's not only about the clothes because I don't photograph clothes I photograph people."<br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – It’s about storytelling insists Hamese, “It’s not only about the clothes because I don’t photograph clothes I photograph people.”
Stunning portraits of world famous beauties
Stunning portraits of world famous beauties
Is this more precious than gold?
Is this more precious than gold?
World Architecture Festival: Living in the clouds
World Architecture Festival: Living in the clouds
The history of fashion photography (abridged)
The history of fashion photography (abridged)
Whether it's Kenya's jet setting grannies or Johannesburg's street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo Biennial's latest exhibition explores.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Queen of Spades — Andile Biyana (2014) by Harness Hamese – Whether it’s Kenya’s jet setting grannies or Johannesburg’s street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo

Biennial’s latest exhibition explores.The Dandy Lion Project looks at African and diasporans who dress provocatively as dandies.

 

"When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride," says curator Shantrelle Lewis.<br />

The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series (2012) by Daniele Tamagni – “When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride,” says curator Shantrelle Lewis.

The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.

Lebogang from the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles series, by Daniele Tamagni – The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.

Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Give thank to thoughtful hands — Bafana Mthembu and Andile Biyana of Khumbula (2013) by Harness Hamese – Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.

He started photographing South Africa's street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means "remember"). <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
When a Black woman prays — Andile Biyanaand the Outkasts (2014) by Harness Hamese – He started photographing South Africa’s street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means “remember”).

The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Khumbula Family Portrait by Harness Hamese – The nostalgic group, like to dress up in vintage, to represent a time in South African history where their parents dressed up as an expression of independence during apartheid.

"We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them," say the group.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
For every strong woman, there are strong men — Khumbula (2014) by Harness Hamese – “We started Khumbula because we felt African stories are not told the way they should be told, the interpreters of our stories tell them the way their audience would like to receive them,” say the group.

"It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level," says Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – “It sort of communicates the mindset that even in oppression we can still dress up and look good and be determined as a people to represent ourselves in an appropriate level,” says Hamese.

"I don't want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes," says Hamese. <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Outkasts – Sunday (2013) by Harness Hamese – “I don’t want people to look at my photographs as part of the Dandy Lion project and only look at the clothes but the stories that come with the clothes,” says Hamese.

It's about storytelling insists Hamese, "It's not only about the clothes because I don't photograph clothes I photograph people."<br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync (2014) by Harness Hamese – It’s about storytelling insists Hamese, “It’s not only about the clothes because I don’t photograph clothes I photograph people.”

Models walk on water as Karl Lagerfeld makes history
Models walk on water as Karl Lagerfeld makes history
Castello di Ama: Where art and wine meet
Castello di Ama: Where art and wine meet
Could this smog-eating tower end pollution?
Could this smog-eating tower end pollution?
Naomi Campbell celebrates 30 years of stardom
Naomi Campbell celebrates 30 years of stardom
Whether it's Kenya's jet setting grannies or Johannesburg's street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo Biennial's latest exhibition explores.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
The Queen of Spades — Andile Biyana (2014) by Harness Hamese – Whether it’s Kenya’s jet setting grannies or Johannesburg’s street style battles – Africans have long found their voice in knowing how to dress sharp – as Brighton Photo Biennial’s latest exhibition explores.

The Dandy Lion Project looks at African and diasporans who dress provocatively as dandies.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Calligraphist, London, by Sara Shamsavari – The Dandy Lion Project looks at African and diasporans who dress provocatively as dandies.

"When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride," says curator Shantrelle Lewis.<br />

The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series (2012) by Daniele Tamagni – “When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who are not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride,” says curator Shantrelle Lewis.

The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Lebogang from the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles series, by Daniele Tamagni – The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.

Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
Give thank to thoughtful hands — Bafana Mthembu and Andile Biyana of Khumbula (2013) by Harness Hamese – Amongst them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese.

He started photographing South Africa's street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means "remember"). <br />
Photos: Africa’s DIY style cultures
When a Black woman prays — Andile Biyanaand the Outkasts (2014) by Harness Hamese – He started photographing South Africa’s street styles after meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means “remember”).

Dandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonBrighton ExhibitDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonDandy Lion BrightonBrighton Exhibit
Story highlights
A new exhibition explores African male and female dandies.
“The cult of the cloth has been very significant throughout African cultures for millennia,” says its curator.
The new African aesthetic is not what you’d expect. There are girls dressed like boys and men hoarding money to splash out on expensive luxury shoes.

Now, the Brighton Photo Biennial is turning its focus on these fashion-obsessed millennials by featuring The Dandy Lion Project — a look at black men and women who like to dress provocatively as dandies.
The exhibit has already been across the U.S. and parts of Europe, reaching Amsterdam and now Brighton. But the updated UK edition features women dandies for the first time.
“It’s 2016 and it would be funny to have a conversation about black masculinity and not include women who present as masculine or feminine on that spectrum,” says curator Shantrelle Lewis, who has been amassing images of black dandies since 2010.
Lebogang from fashion collective the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles 2, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
Lebogang from fashion collective the Smarteez, Joburg style Battles 2, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
Africa’s style collectives hold global currency — this is the second exhibition in the UK within six months to focus on black dandies, and this style trend has appeared in a recent advert by Guinness, as well as a music video by Beyonce’s sister, Solange.
But it’s more than just fetishism or “poverty porn”, insists Lewis. “People have been shooting black dandies for years,” she acknowledges. “When I first started curating the exhibition I was really anti including any artists who were not of African descent. So I really wanted to look at dressing up not as a response to racism and discrimination but as a source of pride.”
“The cult of the cloth has been very significant throughout African cultures for millennia,” says Lewis. “It speaks to an African aesthetic that is always persistent throughout the continent and even throughout the diaspora.”
Clothing battles
The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
The Smarteez , Joburg style battles series, photographed by Daniele Tamagni.
Within the collection are images by Kenyan photographer Osborne Macharia, looking at the fictional league of extravagant grannies, who were former government leaders, as well as Baudouin Mouanda, capturing Congo’s sapeur clothing battles held on the streets of Brazzaville.
The exhibition will showcase around 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers over the past 10 years.
Among them is budding South African photographer Harness Hamese. The 30-year-old started his career in photography after developing an interest in black and white images.
A chance meeting with a group of dandy enthusiasts named Khumbula (a Nguni word that means “remember”) led him to start documenting their street style.
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync, 2014, by Harness Hamese.
Andile Biyana and Lourens Gebhardt — In Sync, 2014, by Harness Hamese.
The idea, both for Khumbula and Hamese was to try to look back at a time in South African history where options were limited for their parents. The images are staged in a way to convey how their parents used fashion as an expression and statement of independence.
“That kind of clothing represents a time in the South African history where our parents used to dress like that,” says Hamese. “A time, when they were very oppressed.”

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