Credit: AskPhotos, Tonia Marie Parker


Maame Yaa: Ajabeng’s All-Female Collection Celebrates African Women

Credit: AskPhotos, Tonia Marie Parker

Ajabeng Ditches Minimalism for More Vibrant Statements

By Eyram Rafael

July 2023

  • Creative Director Travis Obeng-Casper finds inspiration in his brother’s wife to create the new Ajabeng collection for women.

  • Casper draws on African style history, while incorporating modern flair.

  • The new collection emphasizes the rich colors that represent the diversity of the human experience.


Since its debut in 2018, Ajabeng has been a trailblazing unisex brand, redefining the traditional boundaries of gendered fashion. The Ghanaian fashion house is widely known for its Afro-minimalist sensibilities, which seamlessly blend the vibrancy of everyday African life with the clean lines and simplicity of contemporary fashion that has previously been associated with the West. 


This season, the Ajabeng atelier makes a return with a debut all-female collection dubbed Maame Yaa. For creative director, Travis Obeng-Casper, when inspiration strikes, it often comes in the most unexpected ways. The creative spark for his latest collection came from an unlikely source: his sister-in-law. A casual challenge from Maame Yaa, his brother’s wife, prompted Obeng-Casper to design his first all-female collection, aptly named after his muse. “My brother’s wife casually challenged me to work on a women’s collection and when I was researching, I was heavily inspired by Catherine E. McKinley’s work in the African Lookbook,” he recounts. “Funny enough, I came across the name Maame Yaa while reading the African Lookbook so I knew this was just it.”


The Maame Yaa collection draws inspiration from the rich cultural tapestry of African women, as documented in the African Lookbook. As Obeng-Casper himself puts it, the thing about Ajabeng is you get two things: a story you can relate to and pieces that anyone can wear, and this collection is no different. 


Each piece in the collection serves as a celebration of the everyday beauty of African women, as well as a tribute to their remarkable contributions to the world of fashion. By highlighting the often overlooked and underappreciated role of African women in shaping global fashion trends, Ajabeng aims to set the record straight and give credit where it is due. The collection features a wide range of styles, from flowing dresses to tailored pantsuits, all crafted with the utmost attention to detail and a keen eye for elegance and sophistication that still harken to the allure of African women’s fashion over the years. 


One standout piece is the chic asymmetrical one-shoulder dress, which takes the value and aesthetics of a traditional African women’s toga and gives it a contemporary twist. The result is a stunning piece that combines timeless elegance with cutting-edge style.


Another highlight of the collection is the use of the wrapper, which informs the silhouette and design of several pieces, including a beige drawstring skirt and an off-the-shoulder dress with ruffle bands that imitate the creases and drapes of the wrapper. Additionally, the collection features revitalized bell bottoms that are tailored to suit the modern woman. The wide-leg design adds a touch of retro flair to the collection, while the muted bold colours and intricate textures give the garments a fresh and contemporary feel. Everyday pieces like tank tops are elevated with a cowl neckline and shirts are given a spruce with a half-back detail while other shirt dresses spot a bold belt detail at the back.


What makes the pieces more beautiful is that each piece in the collection is thoughtfully named after women who have left their mark, from the past to the present. Take for instance the Abban off-shoulder dress, which pays homage to Felicia Abban, a renowned Ghanaian photographer who made history as one of the first women photographers in West Africa.


However, the new collection is not just a celebration of African women, but also of the colors and textures of the continent itself. The color palette is a visual feast, with a range of hues that are both bold and sophisticated. Obeng-Casper once again skillfully balances the bold colors with a clean aesthetic to create a colorful minimalist palette that Ajabeng is becoming known for. Hues of watermelon pink add a playful touch to the collection, while off-whites and cream lend an air of elegance and understated sophistication. Meanwhile, the use of dark coffee hues adds a sense of depth and richness to the looks, making them perfect for both daytime and evening wear.


With Maame Yaa, Ajabeng has once again proven that fashion can be so much more than just clothes – it can be a means of celebrating and honoring the richness and diversity of the human experience.