African art, music and fashion burst out of Nataal magazine

by Steve Watson in June 2018
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Art & design Current affairs

The launch issue of Nataal magazine is an extremely confident piece of publishing. A big, thick, glossy magazine that showcases global African visual art, fashion, music and culture, its 300+ pages are crammed with people and organisations doing interesting things across the continent and beyond. The editorial team begin by acknowledging the scale of their task, but press ahead regardless: “As indefinable and impossibly vast as the term ‘Africa’ even is, it is certainly inspiring a fresh generation of thinkers and doers to embrace a multidisciplinary, cross-cultural approach to shining a bright and glorious light on the continent and its diaspora.”

At its best, that light reveals entirely new perspectives that I’ve never come across before. In her piece on the ‘Versage’ knock off culture in Nigeria, for example, Allyn Gaestel travels from Lagos to Guangzhou in search of the people creating a type of fashion that begins with Versace and other high end brands, but establishes itself as utterly Nigerian. Insightful and affectionate, it shows how two emerging, urbanising economies are feeding off one another, and in turn inspiring the prestige western brands themselves.

Sometimes the onslaught of interviews can become a little overwhelming, and I’d love see more of Gastael’s style of first-person colour, but this first issue is an exciting start for a fresh new African title.

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