Penned by Nichelle Cole
Malick Sidibé, the great African photographer who died a few months ago, was the photographer everyone wanted to be shot by. Women and men would often have a special outfit made for themselves in advance of a sitting with the iconic photographer.
In his study on the dusty streets of the Bagadaji district, where he worked all his life, Malick kept a range of accessories to make people look even better: sunglasses, women’s handbags, radios, flowers. In this sense he was a stylist. Sidibé was also known to suggest how subjects should pose. In that sense he was an art director.
His heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s when Mali’s independence was full of promise and generations of Malians eager to have their portrait taken would seek out the then infamous photographer. Thousands of images and decades later and Sidibé’s body of work is now one of the most talked about collections in the fashion and art world.
This premise was the basis for Antonio Marras for Spring 2017. The 40-look collection featured excellent disassembled sportswear, reassembled into a multi-layered Marras-mixed montage of romantic offerings. A cornucopia of color, pattern and detail referenced the exuberant mood of the newly-independent nation of Mali in 1960s Africa.
The mood of the show was heightened further by muslin-clad women sitting under old-fashioned hairdryer hoods. The finale saw the ladies strip away the fabric to reveal custom-made Marras dresses before going wild with partners on the catwalk turned dance floor – which brought fun and energy to Milan fashion week.