Since Yves Saint Laurent showed his iconic 1967 “African” collection, fashion designers have repeatedly tapped the heritage of Africa in search of inspiration. Just last season Burberry and Michael Kors were among several labels that mined the continent as a source of ideas. Yet in the popular imagination, especially in the Western hemisphere, African fashion more often than not means animal prints, mud cloth and cowrie shells. In her new work, “New African Fashion” Helen Jennings, a fashion journalist, hopes to broaden that view. Part coffee-table book, part glossary, it highlights designers — some established, some fledgling — whose work is African made or inspired. While there is no single way to describe African style, the fashion industry tends to favor characterizations that to many people smack of condescension. “Fashion is full of meaningless terms like ‘tribal’ and ‘urban,’

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