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Selasie Amewusika Acolatse on the Influence of Saudi Arabia and Spirituality in Fashion

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“Fashion, no matter what form it takes affects the life of everybody, not solely a specific section of the population but it serves as an expression of the self at a given point in time and place.” – Bernard Edem Dzramedo

Expression of self is key in fashion, and the Selasie Amewusika Acolatse holds that truth to heart too. Twitter has connected our cultures and subcultures with the quickness of a 140 character thought. That is how I came to find Selasie, the mastermind of the Amewusika fashion line. She was sharing the story of how she used fashion to combat the low feelings of her struggle with lupus. As part of her recovery, she created a line that could make her feel glamorous even at her weakest.

Finding fashion in Saudi Arabia


Taught by her grandmother while she lived in Ghana, Selasie has known how to sew since childhood. However it was only after a fallout with her friend and some tough love from her mother that the designer started creating for a living.

The worst topic to fight with a friend over is a man. For Selasie, the very worst happened. A friend felt wronged after being played by a man whom Selasie had introduced to her. Believing that Selasie made the introductions in an effort to embarrass her, the friend tossed Selasie’s clothes into the streets of Atlanta. Around that time, Selasie was planning to join her mother in Saudi Arabia. With little time to go shopping and limited funds, she had to travel with the clothes on her back, a journal and pens, and two fur pelts*.

In the words of South Africa’s Moshe Ndiki, one could say that Saudi Arabian women taught her “leisure and style.” Selasie shares that, “Saudi refined my understanding of what was comfortable.” Women in Saudi Arabia, she believes, dress for themselves and their comfort; especially with the societal restrictions in place.

Fashion became about self gratification to the designer. Clothing became less about how you were seen, but how one saw themselves. With this in mind, she leaned towards creating garments that translated into art pieces. Every garment should appreciate in value; and to stretch further every piece is stitched from part of her innermost self.

Spirituality and fashion


I pray over every [garment] before I send it out. It has my intentions, a piece of my soul.” It is illegal to produce, import, or consume alcohol in Saudi Arabia. The designer credits the creation of her first collection to her being in a sound state of mind. The purity of her state of mind, she believes, has made her work equally pure; thus making her brand genuine. With every garment she creates, she sends out pieces of herself to their final wearer.

More so than her time in Saudi Arabia, her relocation to her mother country has grounded her. “Being [in Ghana] and being connected to my family, to its spirituality [makes me] take more responsibility for my bloodline.” Creating a garment and casting a prayer is more authentic in this way, she believes. Selasie’s art and spirituality have grounded the authenticity of what she does; by virtue of which her art is better able to speak for itself…it has impact…it has meaning.

 

Follow Selasie on Twitter, where you’ll learn more about her brand and her influences.

“two fur pelts*” – corrected from “two coats”

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