By Sharon Kavhu
HARARE – Lace, silk and satin outfits used to be the ‘real deal’ for the bride and her bridesmaids on a wedding. Many people appreciated the outfits more in bright and shouting colours to blend with the glowing event.
However, today, the fashion policy on weddings within Southern Africa has borrowed the culture of appreciating ethnic and traditional outfits on weddings from West Africa.
In West African weddings, people attend weddings in their African attires. The bride and groom come on their wedding wearing the designer wear in African material, others even change their outfits twice or thrice on the same occasion.
Unlike in West Africa where shiny African materials are used on wedding outfit, in Southern Africa Ankara material has become dominant particularly in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique.
The material is sometimes called Wax print, Holland wax or Dutch wax and designers are combining it with lace material to complement fancy wedding outfits.
Many people in the Southern African region are catching up with the trendy African attire wedding outfits but, some are failing to blend.
One Zimbabwean designer based in South Africa, Ashley Antonio (26) told The Southern Times that African attire wedding dresses use the same concept with the European outfits but the only difference is the material used.
“African attires on wedding dresses is a combination of West African, European wedding dressing and a unique feel of fashion. It needs a lot of creativeness as it is not just all about putting on African print. It has to be elegant, classy and remarkable for a wedding event,” she said.
“Ever since the modernising of African outfits in our region, several fashion designers have come up with their own initiatives ranging from traditional handbags, blazers, formal shirts and even earrings.
“In traditional or ethic wedding dresses we mainly use African print materials and lace or voil (see through) for the ladies.
“For male outfits we use the African print material to accessorise their shirts, however, male clothing do not need too much accessorising.”
The 26 year old designer said African attire outfits on weddings need not to have bright colours like the European dresses for them to prove their ethnic feel.
Antonio added: “If it is an evening wedding, the use of dark colours on African print and glittering voil and lace will be ideal. It creates an ultimate look that markets the African culture in a unique way.
“However, during day light event bright colours may be incorporated with less details. Already African materials are colourful, thus there is no need to use many bright colours on one dress; it creates a ridiculous look,” Antonio said.
“For ladies who have a big bottom, they look nice in flared edged dresses while the slim ones are urged for pencil dresses.”