A traditional Cameroonian Victorian style inspired attire ‘Ndongo’ by womenswear brand founder and Cameroon Designer Sarah Divine-Garba Maison d’ Afie is getting global appeal and delight.
Its 2018 Resort collection called Ngondo which means ‘festivity’ in her dialect is inspired by Kaba, a traditional Cameroonian attire inspired by Victorian style. It is a wardrobe essential in her country and takes its origin from an interesting and somewhat amusing colonial incident.
For this collection, Sarah Divine-Garba the creative head of women’s wear brand, Maison d’Afie, re-purposes a Cameroonian Colonial classic maxi gown known as the Kaba which was paradoxically born by white missionary wives in the 19th century, as a cover for half naked Duala women who’s irresistibility supposedly distracted their husbands.
Sarah draws from her Sawa (the name given to the coastal tribes of Cameroon) culture and rich childhood memories to create this impassioned modern interpretation of what was once a plain dress with a sack like silhouette born by colonial masters, but has now become an integral part of her heritage.
Designing this collection, for Sarah, rather required a personal honesty that she’d never had to deal with since starting Maison d’Afie. She had to de-clutter and distill to her core values, leading to a stronger resolve to define and express her identity which also required that she stepped away from some traditional approaches that exist within the industry and carve out something more sustainable for her brand and truly reflective of her values and beliefs.
Colour choices across this collection represent the tropical green forests where most of the SAWA tribes are found and the blue rivers that meander through these forests.