A simple dress has long been the cornerstone of any stylish wardrobe, with the classic Little Black Dress the most famous example. This season, however, leading African designers have taken this wardrobe staple and updated it to a statement piece by adding (or, more accurately, subtracting) some small details: cut-out designs. Brands such as South Africa’s SELFI and MmusoMaxwell and Nigeria’s Fruché and CLAN have embraced an elegant sensuality in their new collections, imbuing classic designs with directional sensibilities, from shoulder cut-outs to asymmetric hemlines.
With cautious socializing and holiday parties back on the calendar this year, so too is glamor and a little showing of skin. Designers have been playing with different iterations of the “naked” dress for a while now and this is a variation on the same theme, using sleek silhouettes, sheer fabrics and knotted drape details to up the ante on their creations.
SELFI’s Round Neck dress, which comes in red and sage colors, is made from soft cotton lycra and features a dramatic cut-out across one shoulder, showing off just enough skin to be sensual. The midi-length and asymmetrical hem is perfect for styling with a longline coat and knee-high heeled boots for an elevated look.
For a directional take on the LBD, look to the Agiliga Cocktail Dress by Fruché, which is designed with crisscross ties that create triangular side openings in the bodice. It’s a bold dress that is emphasized by the asymmetric hem with a mid-length flounce that cascades from the waist down. You only need to accessorize with gold-tone hoop earrings such as this Isha Stone pair from New York jewelry label KHIRY and bold shoes for a pop of color and you’re good to go.
If you’re after a look that can easily transition from day to night, the Maryland Corset Dress from Lagos-based luxury womenswear brand CLAN is an effortless option. Perfect for the holiday season, the sleek dress features a triangle cut-out at the chest, above a vintage-inspired corset bodice that dovetails into a mini skirt, giving the two-dimensional illusion of two separate pieces. Whether you choose the classic black version or the colorful green version, it’s a piece that will turn heads this season and beyond.