Luxury as heritage by Annicia Manyaapelo


A few years ago, I read the autobiography of fashion legend and icon Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. It prompted in me a deep desire to find and celebrate all that is beautiful about my continent Africa .

“I love Luxury. And luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity, Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it.” Coco Chanel

What I realized is that Global Luxury brands are deeply rooted in their culture and heritage and that collectively we admire the French or Italian way of being by consuming their Art, Food and Fashion.

Africa is no different in rich heritage and culture.

In my own quest to define what Luxury is and could be for me I began by studying my own history – and came to appreciate my culture.

Think of the incredibly intricate artefacts by the Benin people of West Africa, or the way the Ndebele people have always used their patterns as a way to not only adorn their homes but to communicate special messages with one another or the gold ornaments found at the Mapungubwe heritage sites. All of which indicates the rich and robust forms of expression by our ancient ancestors.

African art is ‘having a moment,’ they say.

There is a lot of interest in art that comes from Africa evidenced by the different art offerings on the global art calendar. From Cape Town Art Fair in February ; Jo’burg Art Fair in September; ART x Lagos in October and the hosting of the 1-54 Art Fair in Morocco earlier this year.

One of the highlights this year is the award-winning Zimbabwean contemporary artist Richard Mudariki’s painting which has been recorded as the most expensive painting ever sold on the African continent.

And Time Magazine featured renowned South African artist Nelson Makamo on its February 2019 cover which in itself is a major moment, an embodiment of the phrase #AfricaYourTimeisNow, aptly coined by Papama Ramogase, the movements founder and chief cultivator.


Today, African designers and artists are revisiting their heritage to create luxury brands inspired by the diverse cultures throughout the continent.

My interest and curiosity in African Luxury with a specific focus on Art and Design have led to many engaging conversations with artists and designers in the continent and continue to serve as my ‘university’ for more insights, learning and knowledge sharing.


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