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A holiday gift for the coffee table

RENEE MINUS WHITE Fashion & Beauty Editor | 11/30/2011, 5:19 p.m.

From African-inspired to African-made, "New African Fashion," by Helen Jennings, celebrates a new wave of fashion designers you'll see and hear about emerging on the global stage. In this artfully put together book are hundreds of vibrant, full-color images showcasing the innovative work by these designers, photographers and models.

Jennings, an editor and fashion expert, presented the history and future of African fashion in a selection of images from the book at Design and Style, a fashion symposium held at the New York Public Library on Nov. 30.

Jennings was accompanied by illustrious members of the African fashion community, including the duo who make up the womenswear brand Mataano, designer Mimi Plange and former model turned model campaigner Bethann Hardison. The event was conceived and organized by Arezoo Moseni. Enyinne Owunwanne of Heritage1960 was the moderator.

Starting in the late 1960s, when Yves Saint Laurent presented his African-inspired collections, the textiles, fashion details and colors of Africa have moved into the realm of high fashion. Young designers from the continent have evolved as the fashion creators to watch in the past few years. In her book, Jennings, editor of the award-winning ARISE magazine, offers a brief history of African fashion, beauty and style. She follows the influence of young, modern designers from across the continent.

"New African Fashion" features the best designers, photographers and models. The book profiles popular fashion houses such as Duro Olowu, Jewel by Lisa, Black Coffee, Ozwald Boateng, Suno and Eric Raisina.

Jennings also explores why African fashion is currently having a moment in the sun. She reveals how designers look beyond cliches of the African aesthetic by embracing both traditional and contemporary fabrics and garments and explores the trendy passion for ethically and environmentally conscious clothing.

Fashions are colorful and exciting. The contents of this new volume appeal to anyone interested in following the world's most exciting new fashion development.

Jennings is one of the United Kingdom's preeminent fashion journalists. She has been at the helm of ARISE since its launch in 2008. It is now sold in over 20 countries worldwide.

Jennings studied at Kings College London. Over the years, she has contributed to such titles as i-D, The Face, Time Out, Neo2, Touch, The Fader, Trace and Oyster. She puts all of this experience into her first book, "New African Fashion."

Here's news about the talented women on the Design and Style panel. The Brooklyn-born Hardison was an international runway model in the 1970s and model campaigner in the 1980s. During her career, she was responsible for launching the careers of both Tyson Beckford and Veronica Webb. She established the Black Girls Coalition with her close friend Iman in 1988 as a means of championing models of color. To this day, she remains a fearless campaigner for diversity in fashion. She worked on Vogue Italia's Black issue in 2008, and currently contributes to the Vogue Black website. Hardison is also working on a documentary project.

The twin sisters who own and design for the brand Mataano, Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, grew up between Somalia and the United States and currently live in New York. They launched their womenswear company (Mataano means twins in Somali) for the spring/summer 2009 season. Since then, they have showcased their feminine, modern designs in Addis Ababa, Lagos, New York and Johannesburg. They have been interviewed by Oprah and profiled by CNN, Vogue, ARISE and Essence.

Designer Plange was born in Accra, Ghana, and raised in California. She studied architecture and fashion before relocating to New York, where she worked with both Patricia Fields and Rachel Roy. She launched her label (formerly called Boudoir d'Huitres) in 2007. Her company offers luxury women's wear inspired by Victorian fashion and her African heritage. Plange now has retailers on three continents and shows during New York Fashion Week.

Heritage1960 is a one-stop shop for global African fashion and lifestyle brands. "It got its name from the year 1960, in which 17 African nations gained their independence," said Owuuwanne, its creator. "I'm passionate about viewing Africa from a global perspective. Heritage1960 is a celebration of freedom, individuality and style. Everything and everyone on Heritage1960 is connected with Africa in some way."