Pablo Starr is publisher of FWO and RNWY, and author of forthcoming RNWY: A Novel. Read about Pablo in The Huffington Post. (More info.)

Manish Arora FW17

The only surprising thing about seeing traditional African style at Paris Fashion Week is that we don’t see it more often.

Africa is, after all, the original home of technicolor textiles in genius combinations.

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(Photos: Clara Abi Nader)

The trick is to bring something fresh to the conversation, which is a bit like adding a meaningful footnote to Hume and Kant, or some other venerable dialogue. Although the nature of meaning and existence may not be at stake, the success or failure of it depends on having something real to say in the first place.

Fortunately, fashion expresses itself directly to the senses, so the merit of a collection will be subjectively judged, and transmitted directly to the occipital. (Less chit-chat there.)

The Continental

In the case of Manish Arora’s Fall-Winter 2017 collection, taking Africa (and various Near East inspirations) into outer space is anything but non à-propos. Far from it. A trip to the African continent can be a bit like Star Wars, with people of many cultures co-mingling in a world that’s still a bit like America’s Wild West. It’s a place of endless sky, real danger, and — at its most positive — unlimited possibilities.

As usual, we think anyone who screams “cultural appropriation” is missing a very important larger point: the human adventure is our adventure, just as we belong to one another.

This was a human show. A show that strove for aesthetic perfection in every detail, and executed it at the highest level, with Henri Rousseau-luminosity and magic.

It was a salute to imagination, and a future of endless optimism and possibility.

a salute to a future of endless optimism

Or, as the show program said, “a stellar forecast, full of cosmic love.”


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With love,