In the last few months of 2019, the international press’ focus on the African market has been greater than ever. Let's throw back in September, with the LVMH's Young Fashion Designer prize, which went to the young South African Thebe Magugu. Born and raised in the mining town of Kimberley, better known for having given the name to the first transparency agreement to prevent "conflict damonds", Thebe is the first African to obtain this recognition, thanks to a collection inspired by "his" women: «I grew up surrounded by independent, strong women, and I wanted an African brand with truly international implications,» he declared to T Magazine. And if African fashion lands successfully in Paris, that of digital technology evolves with a first agreement between Ethiopia and the Alibaba group, on the front of high jewelry made in Africa the scenario is still uncertain. Jonathan Rosenthal, correspondent in Africa for The Economist, offered eloquent words when he underlined how, although consumers are beginning to appreciate African taste and style, not only in terms of costume jewelry but also of high jewelry, local high-range industry is still not ready for the picking. An analysis also confirmed by jewelry designer Satta Matturi, born in Sierra Leone and raised in London: «I believe that Africa has always been a huge source of inspiration for any form of art and design. But in jewelry it is the lack of services and skills that leads me to have them realized elsewhere, even if I wish they were worked in Africa. There are a huge number of African brands on the market but the majority work in the fashion jewelry segment, not in high jewelry. Consequently, the African public still prefers jewelry by European brands. However, we are seeing a re-awakening of the African middleclass which is beginning to recognize the value of its own cultural background more and more, from music to fashion, and this behavior is slowly seeping into high jewelry too». Her “colleague”, Vania Leles, is of the same view. Born in Guinea Bissau and raised between Lisbon and London, she creates one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by her child- hood in Western Africa. «My jewelry items are called "Legends of Africa" and "Sahara" because I strongly wanted them to express the spirit of my country in terms of shape and materials. My aim is to become the first African designer among the world’s top jewelers, encouraged by philanthropic, sustainable and ethical principles. And my brand Vanleles, founded in 2011, is a pioneer for a new era of all-African, conscious luxury». Is this perhaps the generation that Jack Ma, Alibaba's founder, in the article he signed for The New York Times, calls "the hungry dreamers"? A new ruling class that knows how to transform a criticality into an opportunity, starting directly from the heart, from the belly of Africa itself.





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