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Can Fashion Be Natural?

In Western culture fashion means unspoken rules and guides to follow regarding how to dress. These rules are so important that you can even make a profitable career out of interpreting them. 

Can fashion go beyond trends and express something natural and genuine?

The word fashion simply means a mode or a way to do something. Maybe we need to re-evaluate our interpretation of the word? Fashion could actually mean that there are different ways of expressing ourselves through clothes. I would like to share one amazing and different way…

A couple of years ago, I heard about a video called The Omo People on You Tube. As I sat down to watch it, I was completely fascinated.

The river Omo flows through Southern Ethiopia, a volcanic area with an unusually large palette of color pigments. During six years the photographer Hans Silvester took pictures of the Surma and Mursi tribes, who live there. These tribes are masters of an ancient art. With the pigments of the valley, as well as fruits, flowers, leaves or twigs, they paint and decorate their bodies. Their art is completely free of rules.

Body Art in Motion

This ancient practice is performed by every member of the tribe; women and men, adults and adolescents, the old as well as the children. Mothers paint babies, children and adults paint themselves and each other in a tradition that has probably been the same for thousands of years.

Their paintings range from abstract designs of circles, lines, dots and swirls focused on a specific body part, to all-over patterns of flowers, zig-zags and fingerprints that form a dazzling array over the entire body. The beauty of their living, ephemeral art is absolutely amazing and demonstrates that expressing ourselves through decoration of the body is a basic human need.

The Joy of Decorating

To the Omo people this is pure joy. Their motivation springs from a desire to decorate, to be beautiful, to seduce… but also to express the joy this gives them. The tribes’ daily paintings is an essential part of their lives and is even more elemental to them than music or dance.

Does Fashion become Natural when it is free from rules and born out of joy and pleasure? What do you think?

Don’t miss the video! Click here to see it!

Natural Fashion is the title of Hans Silvesters latest book with photographs of the Omo people. Follow this link for more information.

Photo by Hans Silvester

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