How the Arab Spring influences art and fashion

Looking back into the history of cultures across the planet, each major revolution has led to an upheaval in art, design and fashion. Africa Fashion spent Sunday considering the impact that the series of regime changes in North Africa are likely to have on modern culture.

The French Revolution’s effect was all too apparent with the New Romantics of the 1980s and South America’s heroes like Che Guevara were influenced by the Russian revolutionaries of a previous generation – as he himself became a poster boy for what was cool. Hugo Boss is still living with the fact that the brand designed uniforms for the Nazis.

Immediately after bloodshed, there is a universal sense of shock, but as time heals – it also provides a prism through which a new generation of designers and artists can filter what happened. Distilling the essence.

Going forward, we would expect that the various upheavals across the continent will lead to fresh new ideas in the future – allowing for some positivity to come through from each tragedy.

Egypt’s popular designer Nada Akram is already on record many times explaining how the Arab Spring has influenced her creations.

For those who have lived through a revolution, the direct influence is clear. For the rest of us, it can be easier to feel the passions involved through poetry and music. On 31st May at the Barbican in London – and later in July at the WOMAD Festival, you have the chance to spend time with Souad Massi, Algeria’s finest singing-songwriting export.

The reality is that it may take 50-100 years for the genuine, long-term influence of a revolution to finally settle in the global Zeitgeist.

While the early influencers are undoubtedly here already, our children’s children will no doubt be adorned in abstract arrays of symbols that were once loaded with potency and meaning – but finally end up as a pattern on pyjamas.

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