Sunday, 29 January 2012

Tribal beauty: Omo Valley's botanical fashion show

There is a fashion show each year that makes New York and Milan's Fashion Week look mild. Held in a remote location, without stylists or designers, the models don't even use mirrors-- as a matter of fact, there is only one designer featured: Mother Nature.

This organic parade of texture and color has been a cultural celebration of several tribes in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia for generations, in particular, the Surma and Mursi people.

These two tribes have deep-seated roots in ancient traditions and rituals, but have been at odds with the local government and neighboring groups for decades. Access to natural resources and agricultural land is a never-ending part of their daily life, with the region acting as a hub for arms and ivory trade.

Yet despite the hostile daily life, the tribes continue to pay homage to nature's ephemeral resources by adorning themselves in vibrant colors, flowers, pigments and plant parts.

German photographer, Hans Silvester, documents the two tribes in his book, "Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration From Africa," which has powerful, colorful images of the Omo Valley 'natural fashion show', as well as other regions of Africa.

For more information on Hans Silvester's photos and work, visit Story Culture blog, or read about him in the UK Daily Mail.