The good shades, painstakingly positioned plumage, ornate and customized insignias—the beaded and feathered fits of Mardi Gras Indians are as dynamic because the performances members who put on them. The artwork of “masking” and the costume fabrication that accompanies it determine prominently in lifetime of Cherice “Queen Reesie” Harrison-Nelson. As a third-generation participant within the custom and queen of the Guardians of the Flame Maroon Society, Harrison-Nelson has cultivated a wealthy aesthetic sensibility that she’s articulated in a West African-themed style line debuted in April 2021.
Dubbed the Queen Reesie Assortment, the road marks Harrison-Nelson’s first “official” foray into style in addition to her first collaboration with Nigerian designer Ese Johnson whose London retailer, Tufafi Ng, boasts a global clientele. Regal and expressive, the gathering eschews the ready-made, one-size-fits-all development that afflicts style at present. It as an alternative options personalized clothes favoring fuller figured girls—with each simply as distinct as its buyer. Even with its fuller focus, Harrison-Nelson assures up that her assortment is supposed to accommodate all sizes “[from the] curvaceous, [to the] not so curvaceous.”
The debut design holds each an aesthetic and religious significance for Harrison-Nelson. The piece, a full, darkish blue gown, pays homage to Olokun, a Yoruba spirit mentioned to are likely to the souls misplaced within the oceans of the Center Passage. Moreover, every garment will embrace an identical gélé, which features a complimentary tutorial for tying the standard West African headwrap.
Although the Queen Reesie Assortment stays a piece in progress with solely its inaugural piece obtainable, Harrison-Nelson and Johnson are arduous at work on new outfits, all of which can draw inspiration from Harrison-Nelson’s artwork and, in fact, her subsequent Carnival go well with. “Proper now, we’re growing a pageant outfit…a gown and a jacket [with] a bit of play to it.”
Whereas the items could also be meticulously deliberate, the road itself arose from a second of pure windfall. Harrison-Nelson’s son had stumbled upon Johnson’s creations whereas looking Etsy, a well-liked digital market for handcrafted items. Regardless of the happenstance of the collaboration’s conception, style itself felt like a pure development from stitching fits for Carnival. Very similar to her Carnival costumes, the designs with Johnson replicate a need to transcend mere aesthetic magnificence to seek out which means and finally herself.
“I’m an American African. Due to the atrocities that have been perpetuated in opposition to us, we’re so disconnected…This custom for me is a manner for me to attach myself to my ancestral homeland—one bead, one sew at a time.”
The Queen Reesie Assortment by Tufafi Ng is offered completely on Mr. Johnson’s Etsy store here beginning at $150.