Wild Card Prize - Lovely piece of research and adaptation and wonderful to see representation of a pre-colonial Sudanese style of clothing

Akoko’s Wedding Dress



Lorna Abwonji


Outline the story …

The book "The River and The Source" is by Margaret A. Ogola that traces the lives of three generations of women. Beginning with the story of Akoko set in her rich traditional Luo culture through to all the children of Awiti into the 20th century. My entry is inspired by Akoko’s traditional wedding garment. She was married before colonization so it means that her dressing was very minimal. The book gives an overview description so I researched on what she would have worn at the time with references from historical photos of precolonial dressing for Luo’s. A great resource was the Pitts Rivers museum website.

Luo’s did not wear clothes but adorned themselves in ornaments. They had beaded ornaments on their necks, arms, legs and waist. The men’s accessories were more flamboyant than the ladies. The only time they wore a covering was after they were married. The loincloths ranged from an actual animal hide to a strings of beads made into a covering. I also borrowed some inspiration from some Luo tribes from Sudan that had corset like waist ornaments as part of their garments.

Outline the construction…

I picked a brown cotton fabric to symbolize the animal hide. I designed the garment shape of a bustier with a loin cloth attached to it on front and back. I beaded the front section. I also decided to add a waist corset to further accentuate my waist as described in the book but also to give the waist ornaments more character.

I had two main challenges, beading the corset as well as beading the front part of the loin cloth. The corset itself was my first attempt at a waist cincher and I used plastic bones which worked quite well. There was a bit of a fit issue but all in all it came out well
The front part of the loin cloth gave me some structural issues because of the weight of the beads but I came up with a way to stabilize them with wire rode’s inside. I used a variety of locally available beads a mixture of plastic beads and clay beads. I used nylon thread to string the beads.

Getting brace accessories was also a challenge so I resorted to making beaded ornaments with gold colored beads. I made the bracelet, necklace and anklets. When modeling the garment I chose to cover my sides with a fabric which is not part of the costume but I felt would still compliment it and still keep the theme intact.




  1. Avatar Bethany Rush on March 11, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    I looovvee the beading on this! It makes the whole thing look so rich and unique. The waist corset is also such a nice touch, great job!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 12, 2021 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you Bethany, i truly appreciate it

  2. Avatar Diana Nichols on March 11, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Great job on all the details! I love how well-researched and thoughtful all your choices were.

    • Avatar Lorna on March 12, 2021 at 5:45 pm

      Thank you Diana, I truly appreciate that you noticed that, thank you

  3. Avatar Sarah on March 11, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    So cool!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 12, 2021 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you Sarah, i truly appreciate it

  4. Avatar Jocelyn Lofstrom on March 12, 2021 at 1:45 am

    This is stunning: the elegant simplicity of the bodice but it is so well fitting, the beading, the inspiration. I love it. I now have the book on my to read list.

    • Avatar Lorna on March 12, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      Awesome , I am glad to have inspired you to check out the book, it was one of my favorites. Thank you so much for the compliment i truly appreciate it

  5. Avatar megan on March 12, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Love the beading! The Bodice is stunning

    • Avatar Lorna on March 12, 2021 at 5:49 pm

      Thank you Megan, I truly appreciate it

  6. Avatar Lorna on March 12, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you Megan, I truly appreciate it

  7. Avatar teresa van twuijver on March 12, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    the colors are so beautiful and I love the beading

    • Avatar Lorna on March 13, 2021 at 2:29 pm

      Thank you so much Teresa, I truly appreciate it

  8. Andrea Painter Andrea Painter on March 12, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    This is absolutely fantastic!! I really enjoyed hearing about how you researched the history of the garments, and incorporated that into your design. The waist cincher is awesome — a very excellent first go, and I hope it inspired you to keep making more!

    I absolutely LOVE the beading on this, both the focal points in the centre of the cincher, and the beautiful drape of the bead strands on the skirt!

    Great work!!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 13, 2021 at 2:31 pm

      Thank you so much Andrea, I am definitely going to make many more, I truly appreciate your feedback and lovely comment

  9. Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    I really love the string beading detail you added. <3

    • Avatar Lorna on March 13, 2021 at 2:31 pm

      Thank you so much Melanie, truly appreciate it

  10. Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    I love this! And I’m definitely adding the book to my list.

    • Avatar Lorna on March 14, 2021 at 10:53 pm

      Thank you Melanie. I am sure you will love the book its an amazing story and thank you for the compliment as well truly appreciate it

  11. Avatar Jade Littlechild on March 14, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Beautiful! Absolutely love love love!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 14, 2021 at 10:54 pm

      Thank you Jade, I truly appreciate it

  12. Avatar JAYE SUDAR on March 15, 2021 at 3:59 am

    Lovely interpretation. Your beadwork, and design overall is stunning.

    • Avatar Lorna on March 15, 2021 at 8:50 pm

      Thank you Jaye, i truly appreciate it

  13. Avatar Emeline Barrès on March 15, 2021 at 6:12 am

    Wow, I really love it, and especially all the research that went into the look you recreated (And your small modelling deviation, that you explained !) Sounds like it was a challenging project structure-wise, and it worked out beautifully in the end !! Very well done !

    • Avatar Lorna on March 15, 2021 at 8:52 pm

      Thank you Emeline, i appreciate you feedback. it was indeed tricky when the beads weighed down the apron section. I had to find a way to hold up the structure. Thanks again

  14. Avatar Rebecca on March 15, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    This is lovely. In the past I’ve had some sudden surprises adding beads to a garment and finding out the weight of the beads created some challenges– I think you navigated those challenges well, and I liked reading about your problem-solving. All your pieces– the jewelry, the waist cincher, the loincloth skirt— feel like a character, but also like fashion. Well done! Good luck from Icarus!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 15, 2021 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you Rebecca, indeed this process was full of surprises and had to think fast. I finished my work very last minute as well, because of the holiday season being busy. I am glad you felt the character come through. I truly appreciate your feedback

  15. Avatar Sarah on March 16, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    This is beautiful! I love that you drew inspiration from other African cultures than the original text and wove that into your design. Waist cinchers and working with beads always SEEM like they should be easy, but they’re not. So a big round of applause to you for making the final product look light and effortless! Well done!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 16, 2021 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you for your feedback Sarah. So true, its does “seem” easy but its definitely not. Thank you for noting my diverse inspirations. I appreciate this alot

  16. Avatar Alexandra Blowers on March 18, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    This looks amazing!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 24, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      thank you Alexandra i truly appreciate it

  17. Avatar Stephanie Tietze on March 22, 2021 at 6:55 am

    It is nice to see a take on a native African style. The apparent simplicity is deceptive. It looks comfortable but still beautiful. The boning in the loincloth was a clever touch. I am now trying to picture your design made using the soft leather you simulated with the brown cloth. It really is a lovely design.
    I would like to read this book…

    • Avatar Lorna on March 24, 2021 at 9:57 pm

      Thank you so much Stephanie, I am glad I have inspired you in some way. The book is available on Amazon so definitely a fun story and an easy read as well. The leather would have been way better for sure but I am glad I figured out a way to stabilize it, it had really stressed me out. Thanks again for your thoughtful comment

  18. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 24, 2021 at 5:42 am

    I love your imaginative use of adornment. Those beads are really spot on! I understand using brown fabric as a sub for animal hide. Very well done! Thank you!

    • Avatar Lorna on March 24, 2021 at 9:58 pm

      Thank you AnnaCatherine, I am glad you like it, I truly appreciate the lovely comment.

  19. Avatar Nora Wickman on March 25, 2021 at 1:19 am

    Great job! So cool!

  20. Avatar Wendy on March 25, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    This is so striking, and I’m impressed that you made your own jewelry on top of all the fitting and beading. Really well done!

  21. Avatar Kelli M on March 27, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    Your dress at first seems simple, but upon closer inspection has SO much beautiful detail! I am very impressed with your problem solving for all of the beads added. Stunning work!

  22. Avatar Jennifer Bowman on March 29, 2021 at 5:40 am

    This is beautifully done. As a bead artist and fellow researcher, I have SUCH an appreciation for the care and love you put into this dress! I am learning to improve my sewing skills, and appreciate your embracing the challenges and dedication to make unknown details come to life! The waist garment with beads is awesome! I’m looking forward to learning more about the stories too.

  23. Avatar Peta Pendlebury on March 29, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    Love the beading – and the choice of music on the video is so happy!

  24. Avatar Lorna Abwonji on March 29, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you Nora, i truly appreciate it

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