I can’t tell if the African fabric my new Zachary’s Smile dress is made of is printed with a design of feathers or fireworks, and maybe that is the reason I love it. Those are two of my favorite things. Feathers and fireworks. Actually, add to that a third thing: thought-provoking garments that make you look twice.
But I also love the dress because it is cut tremendously well and fits me perfectly. The strapless, coquettish 1950s silhouette is like a prom dress stripped down, minus the layers of cupcakey tulle that would render the dress slightly too ridiculous for a work ensemble.
Pleats at the hip create a flattering pouf which makes me feel incredibly feminine, and the irreverent choice of using wax block fabric from the Ivory Coast on a classic shape is just the type of “turning something on its head” that I enjoy.
Jenni Nelson, head designer at Zachary’s Smile, said she snapped up small quantities of a huge variety of eclectic prints at a textiles show a few years back, and sat on it until she came up with a good pattern.
“We fell in love with the vibrant colors but needed to figure out the right shape so it would flatter every body type and not look too ethnic.”
The team got into the West African groove listening to Nigerian singer Fela Kuti (his son and fellow singer Femi is the dress’ namesake) and Malian singer Oumou Sangare while designing in the studio, and churned out three styles of dress in each fabric they ordered. This means the chance you’ll rock your African print dress with crazy projectile flaming feathers on it at the same time someone else will is very small.
Get the dress at Anthropologie stores, or Zachary’s Smile, while you still can!