Last Thursday I began a journey of 5000 miles, like a swallow I am spreading my wings after a festival packed summer and heading south in search of the sun… and colourful clothing! Over the last few months I have taken an old 1997 Fiat Ducato van and turned it into the mighty Ashanti Wagon, lovingly named Elkie she is a colourful and compact home on wheels that I am hoping will get me as far as Morocco. Its then travel by whatever means possible all the way down to Ghana.
This adventure is something of a whim, an idea I have always dreamt of since first visiting Ghana in 2008 but the time has never been right to turn the idea into a reality. Now is that time and my journey south will take me from my home in Bristol all the way to Ghana over the coming 5 months. After spending over a year in Ghana over 5 visits to the amazing and vibrant country I am now really excited to explore more of West Africa and also to see all of the changes in culture, history and of course fabrics and style as I make this long journey south through ten countries.
The route is flexible and time will hopefully be a friend rather than an enemy, I want to immerse myself in the journey and experience every day fully, embrace the adventure and more than anything, embrace the unknown. I want to learn more about African textiles and design, dyeing techniques and traditional dress and will use this knowledge to inspire the Ashanti Collection of 2018.
I left a rainy grey Bristol early on Thursday morning and have spent the last four days admiring the changing scenes and landscapes as I drove from Cherbourg down to Perpignan where I am now, working and enjoying pain au chocalat! I have journeyed across bleak flat lands similar to Lincolnshire, the smell of cabbages oozing through my windows; through beautiful autumnal forests, the changing leaves like fire embers; across drought ridden hills dotted with the sheep who produce the milk for Roquefort (I strangely know this because I picked up a young hitchhiker who was a shepherd!) and late on Saturday I hit the south coast and found my long lost friends… the sun and the beach!
With the power of the internet now spanning even the mighty Sahara desert and rural villages of Senegal and Mali it won’t be too hard for you to share in this adventure and dream of mine. I will try to share a few of my favourite experiences along the way and keep you updated of the new Ashanti styles as they develop.
The ashantiempress.com blog will act as a platform for sharing this journey as well as facebook and Instagram so check it out!!
Big love and see you when the summer returns!