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Lanvin Dolls Made In Swaziland In Collaboration With Dessine L’Espoir 

Lanvin, acknowledged as the longest running couture fashion house, recently launched its first ever girls wear collection, called ‘Lanvin Petite’ and to mark the occasion has commissioned a set of four very chic soft dolls. Designed by Elber Albaz, Lanvin’s celebrated Creative Director, the beautifully hand-embroidered and hand stitched limited edition dolls were produced by a community of women in Swaziland and will be on sale from November. Lanvin, a fashion house with a rich heritage teamed up with charity Dessine L’Espoir (also known as Designing Hope) to create the pretty little Lanvin dolls which are dressed in miniature versions of the new ‘Lanvin […]

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Baobab Collection Luxury Candles Inspired by Africa

  What an unexpectedly busy week its turned out to be; and as it draws to a close the soft glow of a candle filling the air with a soothing scent can be the perfect way to lull yourself into a blissful state of relaxation… such an indulgence, for setting the mood and the thought that came to mind when I came across the Baobab Collection, a luxury collection of colourful candles and home fragrances inspired by Africa. Created in 2002, The Baobab Collection found its inspiration amidst the magnificent landscapes of Tanzania where founder, Valérie Bietlot was inspired by the intense […]

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Beautiful Clinton Friedman, Eva Sonaike, Urban Africa Notebooks

When I started this blog I never anticipated how much writing I would end up doing; making notes on paper, on the computer as I’ve let all my thoughts flow out. One thing that strikes me is how ideas for posts and perfectly formed snippets of sentences often appear at the most inconvenient of times, when there isn’t a paper, pen or pencil to be found within close range and by the time you’ve found one the moment is lost; the thought evaporated like a puff of smoke. [Image credits: Clinton Friedman – Purely African]

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Buntu Chic Colourful African Print Swimwear Made In Africa

It was so cold last night one would think we were in the middle of winter! I had rather high hopes for the British summer given the glorious start we had; however lately it’s been a bit hit and miss leaving me to look forward to a holiday in the sun instead. This brings the dilemma of what to wear and trying to pack light, something I’m still trying to master, especially when the ‘just in case I need it’ thought reigns supreme. When it comes to swimwear, Bantu’s chic and colourful African print swimwear made in Africa would definitely make their way […]

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Frazer Parfum South African Made Luxury Natural Fragrances

Shrouded in mystery and intrigue; the art of perfumery has to be an incredibly personal process as the perfume maker chooses and blends the scents that essentially please their nose, but at the same time requiring an element of commercial appeal. Frazer Parfum is a niche perfume house based in Cape Town, South Africa; the South African made luxury natural fragrances and scents produced are in essence a fragrant ode to owner and parfumer Tammy Frazer’s travels to the source of the materials used, meeting all those involved in the production and gathering inspiration along the way. Grouped into chapters; each reflecting […]

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Threads Of Change Mud Cloth and African Print Accessories

Once upon a time you could just put your mobile into your pocket or bag and just go (…well I still do!); but now ever-rapidly evolving interactive, on-the-go paraphernalia such as handheld computer games, iPhones, Blackberrys, iPads and more are so ingrained in our day-to-day lives we now seek to dress them up as expressions of ourselves whilst keeping them safe – think of the teenage girl with her rhinestone covered mobile phone or the interchangeable ‘skins’ that come in a plethora of colour and pattern. So how about some colourful, distinctive Mud Cloth and African print accessories sleeves from Threads […]

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Koto Bolofo Photography La Maison Hermès’ Rich Heritage

Koto Bolofo is one of the most prolific fashion photographers of his generation. Born in Lesotho and raised in the UK; the Koto Bolofo photography portfolio includes iconic photography for fashion and lifestyle’s elite from magazines like Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair to editorials and advertising campaigns for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dom Pérignon. Now residing in Vendée, France Koto has several books to his name capturing in print his often evocative photography. [Image credit: Koto Bolofo – La Maison]

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Shumba Inc Made In Africa Felt Wall-Hangings

Brighten up the walls of a nursery or young child’s room with adorable, quirky and colourful felt wall-hangings made in Africa by Harare-based, Shumba Inc. The diverse wildlife found across the African continent is a constant source of inspiration for many and Shumba Inc’s interpretation sees buffalo, lion, giraffe and man’s best friend captured in the delightful childlike innocence that can be found in children’s drawings and give each animal a personality. ‘Shumba’ means lion in Shona, one of Zimbabwe’s languages and Shumba and his friends come in a colourful array of hand puppets, magnets and decorations to name a few. [Image credit:Wall-hanging […]

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Exquisitely Handmade African Christmas Decorations

[Image credits: Tintsaba] Getting ready to trim the tree? Christmas is a time for giving, receiving and sharing so why not let your tree embody that sentiment with meaningful ornaments. Bypass the convenience of picking up mass-produced baubles from your highstreet store, instead find out what local artists, designers or community organisations have to offer, and it goes without saying your local church, school and community fairs are sources for uncovering some unique gems. With so much to chose from I have zoomed the spotlight on organisations like  Tintsaba whose wonderfully simple yet stylish African Christmas decorations brought a smile to my face.

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Heartworks Heartfelt Handmade Teddy Bears South Africa

[Image credit: Heartworks] Today is the first of December, and World AIDS Day. Marking this day, today’s offerings introduce you some gorgeous, cute and cuddly handmade teddy bears from South Africa courtesy of the talented ladies at Heartworks; an embroidery group based in Khayelitsha that was started in 2004.

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The Perfect Luxury African Wedding Invitations by Ijorere

The creator of Ijorere’s luxury African wedding invitations, American born Ola-Tokunbo turned to her Nigerian heritage for a name that would neatly sum up her offerings and clients expectations. Meaning a ‘Day that is grand’ Ijorere is the perfect name for a company helping you announce your special day to the world with style and elegance.

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu Scents Inspired by Africa

[Image credit: L’Artisan Parfumeur] In a collection inspired by travels and capturing the sweetest, familiar scents found across the globe; Timbuktu is the second fragrance of master parfumeur, Betrand Duchaufour’s L’Artisan Parfumeur travel collection. With a passion for capturing elusive scents that invoke a sense of place, Betrand has spent time travelling the world. For scents inspired by Africa in West Africa, Betrand was inspired by the rich scents found and the traditional art of Wusulan, the Malian art of making perfume, which captured his imagination.

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Moya Luxurious South African Spa Products

[Image credit: Moya] Meaning soul or wind, Moya is a luxurious range of professional South African spa products that advocates the natural approach to healthy living. Moya utilises essential oils and botanicals indigenous to South Africa, particularly harnessing the properties of Fynbos, a plant found mostly in the Western Cape region. The products also include the aromatic and therapeutic essences of Buchu, Zinziba, Cape May, Cape Snowbush, Cape Chamomile, Lanyana and Cape Geranium. [Image credit: Moya] Packaged in distinctive amber, silver and cream; Moya’s therapeutic African spa products include haircare, bath oils, body lotions and washes that the company states contain no mineral oils, […]

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Divine Chocolate Made With Fair Trade Ghanaian Cocoa

[Image credits: Divine Chocolate] Fairtrade packaging has often meant a palette of natural earthy colours and utilising materials like hemp, sisal and handmade paper as a way of giving added credibility to the principles of the product, and whilst there is nothing wrong with this products can end up looking samey-samey when vying for our attention on the store shelf. Eliciting comments like ‘It is refreshing to see a fair trade product packaged as beautifully as this’ (Lovely Package, 2009) and ‘…elegant packaging makes them the perfect gift’ (the Guardian Eco Store), Divine Chocolate made with fair trade Ghanaian cocoa is a brand I fell […]

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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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  • Colourful basketry, soulful sculpture and an elegant candle make a nice placeholder we think, as we prepare to usher in a new chapter of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Gifted hands. A glimpse behind the scenes of Kaross a South African based embroidery initiative, whose artisans transform furnishings into works of art. [📷 credit: Kaross]
  • Tools of the trade, a hand carved printing block stamp by textile designer @juliekouamo whose evocative designs tell the stories of cultures past and present. Julie's textiles feature richly layered patterns, textures and printed pictures that come together to create vibrant collages. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]
  • Fishermen's boats, a familiar sight along the Senegalese coast line. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]

Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive