Gina Baldé’s debut collection brings Guinea-Bissau to Spain via the future of female empowerment
Barcelona-based designer Gina Baldé looks to her father’s homeland of Guinea-Bissau for her debut collection. ‘Bissau 2050’ conjures up an afrofuturist vision of Orango Grande, an island home to one of the only matriarchal societies on the planet. “What people should know is that on this island, women enjoy prestige,” Baldé explains. “She gives life, and according to tradition, she can also cause death; that’s why she is very respected and in some cases, feared. She organises laws and religious ceremonies and she is the one that chooses her partner and decides when she separates.”
Baldé takes three themes that are central to Orango Grande - work, ritual and bauxite (Guinea has the largest deposits of this aluminium-rich rock in the world) - to not only comment on the strength of women but also raise awareness of the pollution and water crisis facing the country resulting from the mining of this sought after metal. The collection does this by transported us into a space where men and women are empowered by wearing classic shapes made from unusual materials such as thermal blanket skirts, raw straw tops, clear PVC dresses and cloaks made from Africa’s ubiquitous checked shopper bags.
The designer grew up in Spain loving all of the arts and studied contemporary dance before deciding to focus on fashion. After an initial trip to Guinea-Bissau as a child, she didn’t return until 2016 and it was on this trip that she felt a deep connection to the country and its people. “It was a very emotional moment for me after being away so long,” she confides. Baldé completes university this year and hopes to continue to use the medium of fashion to speak about social issues. “I feel like the possibilities are endless but I know that my work will always raise awareness of injustices relating to gender and race.”