Gabon designer, Teddy Ondo Ella, presented his Spring 2018 “Heritage” Collection at the July New York Fashion Week for Men.
Inspired by his homeland, the collection is a modern representation of Gabonese culture. Most of the pieces are derived from traditional garments. However, Teddy has recreated them to capture history. He also is bringing a new perspective on how African garments can be assimilated into fashion and popular culture. The collection is a tribute to African culture and history, more specifically a snapshot of Teddy’s Gabonese culture.
Some of the standout features of the collection included Afro picks, floral patterns, fruits, and other staples in African clothing dancing across silk shirts. While bright and vibrant colors were displayed on sarong wraps. And pants that consisted of similar prints, patterns, and colors.
The highlight was the traditional Abacos suits that originated in the 1970s. These suits were worn as a symbol for anti-colonialism, which is why they are short sleeved and never accompanied by a tie. However, Teddy’s version is tailored to be slim fitting. Essentially, becoming more sporty than formal. In fact, all of the pieces in the collection are tailored to keep the authenticity of the line in tact.
The presentation consisted of a traditional Gabonese performance which included music, acrobatics, and dancing. Teddy opened the show with a drum circle. Instead of using only models who appear to be of African descent, he had a diverse group of male models. Presenting his African inspired with non-African models further shows his progressive vision for pushing African culture into modern society. So that it can be embraced by the masses.
Teddy chose New York as the place to show his collection because he knew that the city was more open to newcomers and new ideas. Moreso than any of the other fashion cities like Paris and Milan. Also, most international designers use New York as the springboard into the American market which larger and have more opportunities.
Though Teddy is a proud Gabonese man, he was originally born in Congo. His mother owned a store in Gabon and he would often travel with her to Paris for her buying trips. Later Teddy opened his own store in Gabon, which was a sneaker shop. He eventually launched an urban clothing line called Only Made in Gabon in 2012.
But his current collection is totally different than anything he’s ever done. It’s not based on urban wear or formal wear. But a representation of tradition, culture, and history. All of the pieces are tailored, with exquisite details. If Teddy had anything to prove, he certainly accomplished his mission; and then some.