Selly Raby Kane is a renowned Senegalese fashion designer and artist involved in Africa’s booming art and design movement. Kane is an interesting case study to grasp fashion’s involvement in Africa’s current debate surrounding identity and empowerment through innovation. This article discusses Kane’s designs in light of her contribution not only to contemporary approaches to African fashion that emphasize individuality, but also to effecting change through fashion, examining the ways in which she mixes symbols, signs, and techniques of African and international cultures to inscribe Africa, and Senegal in particular, into the global fashionscape.
Kane shared how her love of her hometown of Dakar influences her work: “It’s a huge source of inspiration and creativity, and I have just been fascinated by its history.” Her aesthetic has won her a core celebrity following, and in 2016 the designer’s profile soared after Beyoncé was pictured wearing a Selly Raby Kane kimono. In 2017, her virtual reality short film entitled The Other Dakar, which paid tribute to Senegalese mythology, gained traction on the international film circuit, and in 2018, she was commissioned by IKEA as one of five African designers to create a range of homeware products for their ÖVERALLT (meaning “everywhere” in Swedish) collection. The designer also served as Creative Director for the 2018 edition of the Design Indaba Festival, where her designs for IKEA were unveiled for the very first time.