'Wide Awakes Carnival — Stand Tall, See Beyond'

Style Observer

'Wide Awakes Carnival — Stand Tall, See Beyond'

Anya Ayoung Chee for POS Fashion Week 2020/2021

Sunday, November 22, 2020

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Fusing fashion, politics and Carnival in an artistic look backward and forward across time, Anya Ayoung Chee's 'Wide Awakes Carnival — Stand Tall, See Beyond' collection of capes began as a mini Carnival band that took to the streets of Port of Spain in February 2020.

Partnering with US artist Hank Willis Thomas, and inspired largely by the 'Wide Awakes' youth-led political organisation of the 1800s, Ayoung Chee created a Caribbean revision of the signature capes that were typically worn by the 'Wide Awakes' to protect their heads and shoulders from the drippings of torches they held overhead as they marched in protest through the streets of America for the abolition of slavery. “They carried what we would call 'flambeaux',” said Ayoung Chee.

“We designed something that would speak to a much more diverse and inclusive moment. I then made a connection between the men who protected these abolitionists in the 1800s and the Moko Jumbies, protective spirits who walk among us to see beyond and predict what evil may be ahead of us.”

“We are seeing the essence of what it means to celebrate as a form of protest – to go into the street and own it, to wear whatever you feel represents that. That's what this is all about. Look at the Moko Jumbies; they just do something to your soul,” she said.

“For me, it's merging what we do for Carnival with what social justice movements are doing around the world. We are being very bold with what it means to be joyful in the midst of chaos. We as Caribbean people are extremely good at that,” she said laughing.

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