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      The World is Awful, Make a Dress

      September 30, 2011

      By Daryoush Haj-Najafi

      The United Nations considers Sierra Leone the world’s least developed state. In the 1991 - 2001 civil war, machete-wielding, drug-taking child soldiers were its specialty. Frankly, there is no way of linking that to these pretty pictures, except they all occurred within the same borders.

      These were shot by 29-year-old Katrina Manson, the first person ever to write a guide book on the country. When we saw these yesterday, our shallow fashion reflex was all “Wow, hmmm, fresh, the sort of thing that Paris Vogue would do but cheaper.” The outfits were designed by 25-year-old Adama Kai, whose Aschobi Designs label is the first western style imprint to set up in the country. Kai was born in New Jersey, moved to Sierra Leone at four, then later trained in New York and Paris. But she has now moved back to Sierra Leone and declared in a recent interview: “In the same way that Ralph Lauren stands for America, Chanel for France, and Versace for Italy, I want Aschobi to stand for African fashion.” Prices range from $30 to $100.

      PHOTOS: KATRINA MANSON

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