Recently, I got to partner with the talented Archel Bernard, a Liberian fashion designer, to do a photo shoot of some of her unique designs. Here's some of my favorite shots from the shoot. To view the rest of her collection and order her amazing designs online, visit itsarchel.bigcartel.com.
A little about the talented Archel:
Archel was born in the States. Her family left Liberia because of the war when she was 1 in December ’89. She attended university at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA and returned to Liberia as a part of her last course for graduation. She arrived with the dream of being the African Oprah Winfrey. She wanted to be the journalist that showed the diverse lifestyle Africans could have, and part of that was wearing African clothes for every video segment. She started using a popular tailor in Monrovia to make her clothes, and although she was good, she would take forever to make her dresses, and then would sell her styles to other clients. The last time she went to her for a dress, she saw her in a copy, a customer in a copy, and another one being made on the table. Archel decided to stop helping the tailor make money from her designs and go into business for herself by making dresses and selling them in the States. After a while, friends in Liberia saw the styles and wanted her to do a few for them, so it grew from there. She wasn't employed so it was great to be able to invest in work for herself.
She decided to return to Liberia because her grandfather passed away a month before and she was set to graduate. He refused to leave Liberia for a bulk of the war, so he was her main connection to her home country. He was a serious businessman, and the move back was a way for me to connect with him and realize his vision for his family.
Fashion in Liberia is exciting because of how creative Liberians are, and how excited women are to work and own their own businesses. Every time she turns around there is a new business led by a new female designer whose perspective is different from the last. No one is making the same outfits from 50 years ago. No one is waiting to be told what to wear by the Europeans or other Africans. Liberian women are excited to wear fun, comfortable, sexy clothes and turn heads no matter where they go. Women are leading this new interest in fashion and she’s excited to have a part of rebuilding Liberia through her shop.