I love rich tones and bright colors – I think it has to do with growing up in Africa where everything around me was vibrant and colorful and loud. I fell in love with the shade of green on the satin I used for this dress and liked the way it contrasted with the red clay-ish colour in the print – it’s like the red soil and green forests of Africa

The contrast fabric used on this dress is kente, which is native to Ghana. It is handwoven and was traditionally worn by royalty and the affluent for special occasions. Over time, however, the fabric has become more mainstream, with less expensive printed versions now available. This look is a mix of two classics: the iconic western little black dress and the African kente. I like to think of it as representative of me, the best of two beautiful worlds.

The idea for this playsuit came about when I got the ankara fabric for the top. With ankara fabrics (the most common type of African fabric, which actually originated in Holland), often the prints are easily recognisable, but new designs are always being introduced. Some of these new designs blend easily with western patterns. When I saw the fabric for the top, I immediately thought to pair it with polka dots. It’s something I do a lot in my work – bringing together the best of the west and Africa, which works great for my customers, who are mostly Africans growing up outside of Africa, or non-Africans, with a love for Africa.

This is my take on the power suit – although it would probably take a very bold woman to wear this to the office! The blazer is actually inspired by my grandma. She had very broad shoulders, and she always carried a lot, both literally and figuratively, and like most women in Africa when I was growing up, she wore very loose clothing, or a piece of fabric tied loosely around her – hence the puff sleeves.

Even though this look uses traditional ankara fabric, it will be worn by a very modern woman. In the past few years, ankara fabric has gone from being considered uncool and worn only by the underprivileged or the elderly to being used by high-end designers and worn by the young, rich and famous. The skirt fabric is a variation on the kente print, used in the little black dress.

Most people tend to think African prints come only in very bright colors but there are also nice muted ones, too, like the ones here. I added prints to the neckline of the top and as a peplum on the skirt to give the look a little pizzazz.

**Paulina Opoku-Gyimah says: GIG (Ghanaian It Girl) and all round fabulous fashion designer about town, AJ Taylor is photographed looking fabulous in her own creation for Guardian newspaper -in a lovely piece titled: Fashion: where Africa meets the West.. We find out Croyden based AJ Taylor -the designer behind CJAJ09, “takes her inspiration from Ghana, where she lived until she was 14”… 

Ghana Rising’s uber pleased for AJ Taylor and her fashion label CJAJ09 -as broadsheet newspapers are notoriously known for only celebrating uber established mainstream brands -and pray that this exposure brings her new fans/clients… 
To read said piece visit:http://www.guardian.co.uk/fashion/gallery/2012/mar/21/fashion-africa-meets-west-in-pictures

To order any of the above designs visit the CJAJ09 website at:http://www.cjaj09.com/ 
and to check out AJ Taylor’s blog visit: http://myafricancloset.wordpress.com/

**Credit: All Photographs by Alicia Canter for the Guardian

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