Safari Style: The flamboyant flamingo in African fashion


A contemporary take on flamingo fashion from Africa 

Admore flamingo sculpture

Post-WWII society was obsessed with pink, with flamingos featuring in advertisements, ornaments, cosmetics and fabrics. Ardmore Ceramic Art, situated in the foothills of the Drakensberg, produces flamingo-inspired collections, including these candleholders (R27 500), vase (R4 500), and sculpture (R2 600).

How the flamingo tickled the fashion industry pink! 

By the 21st century, the flamingo had established itself among bold tropical lifestyle brands. The flamingo has an instantly recognisable silhouette, and with its feminine posture, long legs, and wispy walk, it’s easy to draw parallels between fashion models and the bird. Scarves, beach towels, phone covers, bikinis, and pool inflatables (the latter made famous by Kendall Jenner) all make use of the flamingo.

From the moment Harry Styles, former One Direction singer, wore a Marc Jacobs flamingo shirt on X Factor UK, this flamboyant wetland bird made a comeback in pop-culture fashion… or perhaps it had never really left.

Designers in the 1980s started to flirt with seasonal resort wear, with Oscar de la Renta releasing a colourful and bold collection. Resort wear is now a year-round fashion season associated with warmer holiday climates. Lilly Pulitzer built a fashion brand that represented a permanent summer state of mind, consistently keeping bold tropical prints, like flamingos, in her designs. Tropical flamingo prints in swimwear took off in the 1940s as holiday-goers flocked to beaches.

Muantu silk scarfs flamingo design watercolour artworks

We are fortunate to travel up the West Coast often and I always collect the beautiful pink feathers on the lagoon beach.  The collection of feathers inspired this light pink abstract artwork. 

Juandi Andrag 

Limited edition watercolour silk scarf 

model wearing pink flamingo scarf

Stellenbosch watercolour artist, Juandi Andrag, specialises in limited edition 100% silk scarves, known as MANTUA Silkwear. Inspired by colours in nature and the female energy of the flamingo, they’re available at and priced at R1 950.

The flamingo entered the world of fashion after the Industrial Revolution and was announced via colourful descriptions in text-heavy advertisements in Vogue magazine. By the flapper era, following the rise in photography and consumerism, the flamingo was used on compacts and cosmetics;  Dorothy Gray Cosmetics produced a blush called Flamingo.

Whether the flamingo’s surge in popularity has resulted in an increase in flamingo and wetland conservation remains to be seen.

Information provided by Lisa Valendza, Kent State University

Mafham’s flamingo collage art 

Cape Town artist Zoe Mafham uses collages to form animals, including flamingos. The American Flamingo is a world-renowned 1834 artwork by John James Audubon. Mafham’s collages are available on the Zoe Mafham website priced from R5 000 to R20 000.

Kaross flamingo embroidered cushions 

Escape city life in Johannesburg at Tasha’s Flamingo Room in Sandton City, decorated in soft flamingo pinks. Kaross has released the Kaross for Tashas collection, a range of handcrafted embroidered flamingo cushion covers, available from at R2 400.

Written by Georgina Lockwood

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