Jennifer Boateng - BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Technology (Womenswear)

Obohemaa Shirley Boateng

My final major project delves into my Ghanaian heritage and culture. The focal point is a tribute to my late mother, who moved to Germany at a young age in pursuit of a better life. The project communicates her journey through her clothing choices—from her vibrant, colorful prints in Ghana to her adaptation to Western styles upon moving to Germany in the 1980s. Embracing the power dressing era of the ‘80s, she crafted unique styles blending African fabrics with typical ‘80s materials, such as leather, often donning blazers and oversized jackets with extravagant shoulders.

This project is a heartfelt homage to her, using her favorite colors and showcasing her caring and loving nature. In my work, I’m incorporating fabric manipulation techniques like Canadian smocking to symbolize unity, inspired by the significance of braids in African culture. The braid represents the unity my mother embodied, the central figure in our family who held us together. The smocking on the jacket’s back signifies the bond between mother and daughters, reminiscent of how my mother nurtured strong mother-daughter relationships, often carrying us on her back.

The leather, a fabric synonymous with the ‘80s and one of my mother’s favorites, features prominently in my project. Tribal symbols on the leather signify my mother’s nurturing nature, her strong Christian faith, and her role as a caring mother. These symbols, known as “Adinkra” or “Ankara symbols,” originate from the Gyaman people of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Traditionally worn by royals at significant ceremonies, these symbols have evolved beyond their origins, now recognized globally for their cultural significance.

Adinkra symbols encapsulate profound truths and Akan proverbs in visual form, representing the richness of Akan and African cultures. Their widespread adoption, especially among African Americans and across the diaspora, underscores their status as icons of African symbolism and philosophy. In my project, they serve as a testament to my mother’s legacy and the enduring influence of African heritage.