By Jackie Mwanza
I absolutely adore fashion and because I am still a wannabe successful, rich artist I curb my fashion appetite by indulging in an item of clothing from Primarni (Primark), once in a while, or failing to stretch my budget to a fiver I buy a fashion magazine. Magazines!! All the clothes you could own – to watch but not to wear. Asides from the fashion, I also enjoy features on artists, movies stars, prominent politicians, musicians and destinations that are to be found in glossy journals such as Vogue, Glamour and Grazia.
So, in February 2009 when I spotted a magazine on the news stands entitled ARISE, with a gorgeous black models’ face gracing a very chic looking cover, I stopped in my tracks to have a closer look. I am one of those people who stand in front of the magazine racks in supermarkets long enough for my frozen shopping to start defrosting – so I knew I hadn’t seen the title ARISE before. I immediately leant forward to read the sub heading “Africa’s Global Style and Culture Magazine”. Simultaneously grabbing the only copy and reaching for my purse I hurriedly shuffled to the counter and handed the news agent a £5 note for the £4.95 magazine.
Now on its 14th issue and 4th year ARISE retails for a more modest £3.50. This first copy I purchased, which was to my disappointment the second issue (I had missed the first one) was a 186 page high-end, large-format magazine highlighting African achievement in fashion, music, culture and politics. At last a journal that provides a positive portrayal of Africa and its contribution to contemporary global society. It is filled with all things African and related to Africa and like any respectable fashion led glossy magazine it features international as well as African fashion designers. In case of the latter both known and up-and-coming designers get an airing ie Ozwald Boateng’s next to the likes of Buki Akib (who is also a menswear designer, but with a very African attitude and designs inspired by the legendary Fela Kuti.)
The news section of ARISE is certainly one to write home about with one of my favourite stories to date featuring a former Abidjan car-body welder turned fashion mannequin maker. Allassane Kouama, also known as Tiker, is in the business of making bespoke fashion mannequins for the display of ladies clothes for women with small waists and fuller hips. His clients mainly from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Gabon, Senegal and Burkino Faso are prepared to pay US$150 more for his mannequins compared to the US$50 price tag for a factory-made import from Thailand claiming that Tiker’s own are a sound investment as they do not break like their Thai counterparts that only last weeks. According to Massandje (a client of Tiker’s, who swears by his product) “The clothes don’t need pinning so look nicer than on European dummies.”
Other exciting news stories and features have included the various ARISE fashion weeks; emerging cultural trends that begat “The Rock-Loving Cowboys of Botswana”; profiles of extraordinary lifestyles of Hyena and Baboon tamers; The new South African Space Agency (SANSA) and it’s predecessors in Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria; in-depth interviews with Denzel Washington, David Adjaye and Jay-Z, and so much more.
ARISEs’ editor Helen Jennings firmly states that, “ARISE breaks cultural and editorial boundaries with its mix of upfront news, exclusive interviews, reportage and luxury fashion stories.”
I am in total agreement ARISE does inform, incite and delight in equal measure.
Another fabulous African Magazines worth a browse is the appropriately named FAB (Fabulous, African, Black). Its unique selling point is that it is one magazine with 2 sections: one section and cover for the girls – turn the magazine upside down and you get the boys section with a masculine themed cover.
ARISE ye all to a FAB African read!