AJABENG Debuts Its Spring/Summer 2023 Collection at the Institute Museum of Ghana
Words by The Folklore Team
Many months in the making, the new spring/summer 2023 collection from Ghanaian luxury brand AJABENG is a collaboration between creative director Travis Obeng-Casper and Joseph Awuah-Darko (AKA Okuntakinte), the artist and entrepreneur behind the Noldor Artist Residency at the Institute Museum of Ghana.
A collector of contemporary African art, Awuah-Darko has made a name for himself by cultivating the ties between Europe’s established art scene and Africa’s emerging cultural industries. From his experience at contemporary African art gallery Sulger-Buel Gallery in London, as well as having studied at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Awuah-Darko has actively immersed himself in the knowledge of global art and market dynamics, with the aim of applying and adapting his knowledge to meaningful pursuits in the African creative scene. As the founder and director of the Noldor Residency, he oversees the annual four-week program, which invites an emerging African artist with limited access to resources to expand on their practice in a dedicated studio space and retreat in Ghana’s capital city.
The collaboration between Obeng-Casper and Awuah-Darko came about due to the creatives’ shared interest in the development of the creative industry in Africa. The SS23 collection is a result if the combination of AJABENG’s clean, structural designs and Awuah-Darko’s interpretation of the brand’s Afro-minimalist aesthetic.
“Joseph’s contribution was to highlight his commitment to the development of the African creative ecosystem,” Obeng-Casper tells The Folklore Edit. “As well as to see the Institute Museum of Ghana embrace fashion and channel the conversion on what fashion can be, and to inspire meaningful and impactful cross-disciplinary collaboration among African artists and art museums.”
The Institute Museum served as the backdrop for the presentation of the new collection on October 29, with a specially designed tapestry for the runway, which was created by Awuah-Darko. Models took to the runway in unisex pieces rendered in AJABENG’s familiar color palette of tonal hues, from light beiges and burnt orange to warm greys and charcoal black. Jumpsuits and floor-length dresses gave way to high-waisted drawstring pants with matching tunics, while V-neck collared shirts were paired with wide-fit pants with large turned-up hems.
While the pieces in the collection are easily wearable and versatile, it’s clear to see Awuah-Darko’s influence on the silhouettes, which are an echo of the oversized fits he favors. “Joseph was clearly the muse. He embodies everything the collection stands for. The idea was to show off his lifestyle through the clothes, which is essentially what the campaign was about, says Obeng-Casper. “The collection, however, is for anyone who wants to feel free and appreciate the fusion of African art and fashion.”