Head of State Men’s Spring 2019

Head of State designer Taofeek Abijako’s latest collection for his brand was inspired by Afro-futurism that is influenced by 70s funk band Parliament, the American funk music collective of rotating musicians headed by George Clinton, and Sun Ra, the American jazz composer. Abijako also added elements of West African youth culture thrown in for good measure.

Although Parliament was known for their outlandish approach to fashion, which ranged from everything including rhinestone embellished cat suits to embroidered cowboy pants, Abijako found a way to take that love for over-the-top fashion and tone it done for his spring 2019. An orange two-piece ensemble with black paneling had an oversized pocket on the pant to make a subtle statement. A green vertical stripe shirt, which was very reminiscent of Parliament’s 70s stage costumes, was paired with lilac shorts. While the design aesthetic was easily approachable, the colors were certainly 70s Parliament inspired.

The Sun Ra references came through with regal garments, such as the opening look of a white novelty long sleeve shirt and linen wide leg pants. The addition of a turban was an homage to Sun Ra, given that Sun Ra was known for his many headdresses.

                                      Images courtesy of Head of State

Abijako also found inspiration from one of his idols, Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. Kuti was known for using fashion as a form of protest, and refused to conform to the idea of the traditional gentleman. He also wasn’t afraid of approaching color at a time when men’s fashion choices were much more traditional. The striped cotton notch lapel jacket and striped cotton straight pants both in white, blue, and light plum stripe would have been very fitting for Kuti’s tastes. Kuti still inspires West African youth of today with his eccentric approach to style and love of bright colors and patterns.There was another important message here in this collection. To project forward, sometimes you have to pull from the past. It was through the iconography, style, and images of many black icons that Abijako was able to create his fashion utopia of Afro-futurism. Between the homage to Black musicians and his use of mostly black models, Head of State was black excellence at its fashion finest.

—Kristopher Fraser

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