Africa’s Great Gatsby and 1920s Fashion

What does Africa have to do with the Great Gatsby? Obviously a lot. The Great Gatsby is set in the turbulent 1920s, a time marked by economic and social changes such as technological innovation (cars, electricity, etc.), and the age of jazz and flapper culture. Just like then, many parts of Africa are experiencing a modern cultural renaissance, from African graphics to Afro beats. In all of this, Keem Harun simply found a way to mix African prints with 1920s fashion and calls his fall 2017 collection the Great African Gatsby.


According to creative director Keem Harun-Adeleye,

“The style is timeless and old fashion trends repeat themselves after a few years. The only difference between these fashion trends is the modernization and innovative thinking incorporated into their production and presentation.

The collection combines a classic flapper style with a shiny contemporary seamless African fabric print and features embellished details such as plume, lace, fringe, and mesh. Each dress speaks of old-world glamor mixed with 1920s American aesthetics that are both sensual and sexy.

Keem Harun defines himself as the fashion for independent women and this collection is rightly so. The flappers were a generation of women who wore short skirts so they could dance easily, cut their hair long, wore makeup to satisfy themselves, and behaved contrary to socially acceptable norms for women. They smoked, drank alcohol, enjoyed art, and lived in the moment. In fact, the 1920s gave birth to a fun-loving, free-thinking woman. Many would call this attempt to assert their individualism and identity a rebellion, but for these women, it was freedom and independence. Gender roles have changed. Women were finally able to vote and own their own property, which meant the same rights as men plus the freedom to live at will.

Looking at these photos from this collection, I couldn’t help but imagine Great Gatsby-era women squirming in excitement at the thought of getting their hands on such a colorful, African rendition of the style that had now come to shape their identity. Picture women giggling in showrooms, happily trying on patterned dresses, laughing lightly, and eyeing Western styles with pure contempt. With that image in mind, I invite you to enjoy the images below.

 Keem Harun | @keemharun
Photography: Emmanuel Oyeleke | @emmanueloyeleke
Stylist: Castle de Panaché | @istylebymaureen & @ireneposhh
Models: Adesola, Chinelo, Grace & Princess from Beth Models | @bethmodelafrica
Hair: Carlross Jordan  | @jordanolu7
Makeup: Faraday Bettie | @looksbybettie
Props: Nwandos Signature | @nwandossignatureevents

What are your thoughts with this collection and its American influences from the 1920s fashion era?

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