Nigerian born Togolese designer Grace Wallace is quite the study. Choosing to work as a designer in Togo, gaining critical acclaim for her use of ankara and her niche defining aesthetic has won her a dedicated Togolese following.
With just three collections behind her and critical recognition for her work, it seemed the ultimate honour when the Togo ministry of foreign affairs invited her to participate at a ceremony in honour of the Togolese diaspora by creating a capsule collection in celebration of Togolese nationals in the diaspora. Wallace, known more for her styling work, presented her new collection in front of a select audience.
The new collection themed ‘Diaspora’ celebrates African, and in particular Togolese culture and dress traditions using ankara (Wallace’s traditional fabric medium) as well as locally woven fabric. The eight piece collection leans heavily towards ultrafeminine silhouettes; full skirting and cinched waists, heavily detailed with sequins and embroidered and panelled with ankara. The outfits bear names such as “C’est la vie” “Kpongbazé” “Trésor d’Afrique” and celebrates Togo’s strong history of cross national trade by naming other pieces after common Togolese trader names.
Grace Wallace’s diaspora collection celebrates a cosmopolitan Togolese woman whose dual citizenry informs her identity. And as a Togolese immigrant herself, Wallace is in the perfect position to understand this unique struggle for self, a struggle she translates quite well into clothing.
Photo credit: Oronce Hounkponou