Shunnoz Fiel and Tekasala Ma’at Nzinga are the design duo behind Angolan fashion brand Projecto Mental. Fiel a poet who had grown up surrounded by war, and Angolan born Ma’at Nzinga who returned to Luanda, after studying anthropology and African studies in London, share a rebellious spirit.
Projecto Mental was created in 2003 with the initial goal of using fashion and art to try to take an active role in helping to reshape their country, culture and mentality after a very traumatic time of turmoil. Their first fashion show was in nightclub and attracted all levels of society. They were the first designers to have popularity with both lower and upper classes, their fashion reaches out to everyone. They have since shown their conceptual suits in Portugal and Tokyo.
Their designs are considered Angolan and African but have a global vision that crosses over into avant-garde. Their Classic Equilibrium collection was designed to channel elements of European aesthetic but convey a very contemporary Angolan identity. ‘The concept behind this was to illustrate that equilibrium must exist between the two opposing elements in order for creativity and productivity to ensue.’(1) This collection was heavily influenced by the contemporary African dandy (the Sapeurs) , and is a collection of beautifully tailored suits with touches and accents of African textiles and bright colours. Their objective was to clothe Africans in contemporary fashion, while telling the public that “it’s legal to be clean, look nice and express yourself.”
Their message to their fellow Angolans is that we are all one, we are all equals. “We tell them to be strong and be brave and they relate to that. Angolans were hurt and depressed by war so our role is to be art heroes and bring pops of colour and smiles to all.” (2)
(1) Mercedes Fashion Week Tokyo
http://tokyo-mbfashionweek.com/en/brands/detail/projecto-mental/ viewed 20th September 2014
(2) Changemakers Angola
http://www.projectomental.com/press/pdfs/AriseMagzine.pdf viewed 19th September 2014