In 2010, Cameroonian photographer and makeup artist Mario Epanya launched a campaign to make Vogue Africa a reality. In order to achieve this, Epanya published a series of stunning fictional Vogue Africa covers, which quickly garnered him both support and criticism from various individuals. Mario Epanya, now a prominent beauty photographer living in Paris, has always been a supporter of African fashion. “My inspiration for this project came from my life, and the colors, culture, and diversity that make Africa beautiful. I think African women are very strong and optimistic, and a Vogue Africa would be the ultimate homage to them, ” he said in an interview with Claire Sulmers from Vogue Italia.
However, the world didn’t wait for too long before Epanya’s bid for Vogue Africa was turned down. In the same year Enpanya posted the following on his Facebook, “The Wait is over. Condé Nast said NO to an African license of VOGUE. So this is the last cover. Enjoy, but it’s a beginning of something.”
Beginning of what exactly? We still don’t know, as we still don’t have a Vogue Africa.
The discussion on Vogue Africa was forgotten again until none other international fashion model Naomi Campbell brought it up again during the 2014 Vogue Festival in London. While discussing fashion in Africa with Franca Sozzani, the Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia, Campbell stated that, she was hoping that African Vogue would become a reality. Nonetheless, Sozzani, an advocate for Vogue Africa herself, stated that the possibility for a Vogue Africa was still far off. “We really have to work much more, and to have more people believe in [Africa],” Sozzani added.
It has been years and there has been significant development in the African fashion industry. Not only has there been an increase of African designers showcasing their work in and out of Africa, there has been growing interest in African fashion in general. The appropriation of designs by international fashion brands in their collections and editorial shoot locations are all examples of the significance of fashion in Africa.
Contrary to what the media might sometimes portray, there are many designers in Africa whose work is up to global standards. So, what is the problem? Why has the Vogue Africa idea floundered and died? Unlike every other continent, Africa still does not have one single version of Vogue in any country. We have the designers, the photographers, the models and the interest. So are we missing something or is this just another case of discrimination against Africa?
Despite the fact that African fashion has been growing, Africa is still not considered as a hub of creativity. Typically, when investors think of Africa, besides of war and famine, they think about mineral and land. The perception of Africa is still surprisingly negative despite the rich culture, economic growth and vibrancy. There is nothing to do but wait until the world recognizes that Africa is more than just the sum of its tragedies. There are challenges in terms of manufacturing, marketing and so forth, but ultimately fashion in Africa is booming.
However, some argue if Africa really needs its own version of Vogue. There is an abundance of great fashion magazines throughout Africa, like New Africa Woman, True Love, Arise, and so many more. In all honesty, Vogue has been through so many racial controversies, from Slave earrings to featuring a white model in black face.
It would almost be in bad taste to have a Vogue Africa. In the end, having Vogue Africa would not end racism in the fashion world. Nowadays we have platforms such as Instagram, Vloggers, fashion bloggers and Facebook pages, all promoting and rebranding the perceptions of fashion in Africa. So perhaps Vogue Africa may not be a necessity. It would be lovely to have one and feel part of an internationally renowned fashion magazine but fashion in Africa can strive without it.
All images sourced and subject to copyright © Creatives Joint
Cover image sourced and subject to copyright © C’Koment Publishing Media Group
Check out more of his Vogue covers: