Project 010:
She Was Lightenin’ Zine: Grotesque Fashion + Jamaican Women in the Dance Hall

May 2023

Throughout my time as a student at the New School I researched the many ways that Black people, throughout the African Diasopra, used fashion and personal aesthetic as a radical mode of liberation and agency. I wanted to find a way to tell the stories I found in my research through digital design. So for my final project, I cumlminated my research into a digital zine titled: ‘She Was Lightenin’’.

Overall, this project explores the integral role that Jamaican women play in the creation of dancehall music and culture. I collected images from Akeem Smith’s ‘No Gyal can Test’, Wayne Tippet’s “Inna Dancehall Style’, and several Jamaican newspapers to design a small archive documenting the extravagance of women from Knottingham to Kingston in the dancehall.

Through my research, I found that Dancehall fashion is grotesque and gaudy – but that does not mean the participators are instinctively uncontrollable or dangerous. The overexposure of real, ample, voluptuous, dimpled, fat or otherwise boundless shapes of the average Jamaican body and the costume-like nature of dancehall dress was quite literally the point.

I also discovered that a lot of present day fashion collections reference designs that I would see in old dancehall music videos and pictures. I was inspired to do more research on these designers, the culture and origins of these designs but I struggled to find substantial written sources or images related to what I was looking for. I wanted to create this zine to accredit and document the women who mothered Dancehall culture and fashion becasue I find it very important that they are celebrated as skilled designers and visionaries.

I’m currently designing and developing a more elaborate digital archive that will be accesible to the public and other researchers that seek to understand the impact that women’s Dancehall fashion has on contemporary high fashion and the world at large.

Explore a few pages from the zine above.
To learn more about the project follow this link.

Currently available for collaborations, clients and commissions. 📨