This was the first ever African Fashion Week London and what a success it was. The event was held in Bishopsgate and over a period of two days there were numerous catwalk shows, each day culminating in an evening gala. I attended the event on Saturday and the line outside was ridiculous long. The designers hailed from countries such as Nigeria, Gambia, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Angola, Congo and Eritrea. There was a great mix of designs. There was a rich mix of print and colour.
From what I have been told, the New York African Fashion Week was far more successful. There was a large volume of designers, ranging from Morocco and Ethiopia to Ghana and Kenya. Needless to say it was a success. However to be fair to the London event, the New York show is in its second year.
I arrived for the 3 pm shows and headed straight to the Press booth. Some of the designers were truly impressive, beautiful aesthetics and lovely fabrics. Overall there was an impressive showing but there were the few bloopers, mostly due to use of cheap fabric and uninspired designs. Now I am no designer so I have to be careful with my comments (lol) but some of the fabrics used were the same you wrap around yourself when you are cleaning the house.
In between shows, we went to visit the various stalls in the garden. I bought myself a skirt from the Nigerian designer Prima Rouge, a gorgeous print skirt with an impressive large crochet detail.
Peep below for some pictures. My favourite designers were Prima Rouge (though I did not attend her show the day before) and the fabulous Kenema & Co.Though her show wasactally at 5pm, I wanted to start with Kenema. Her fabric choice was spot on and I am in love with the green dress.
Going back in time, the 3pm show opened with Maze Couture. I loved the styling of this designer. It brings me back to the boubou designs of West Africa.
The young designer for this brand is super cute and her styles were different. The long gowns had an interesting mix of African prints.
KIKA HOLANDA CHAPMAN
This designer did not have the African print and I would hardly call the collection African but it was an interesting mix.
J by JACK
A few pieces in the collection were very well executed. Overall it was a nice show. One or two pieces would be welcomed additions to my wardrobe.
This Kenyan designer’s collection was a mix of African and Indian influences. There was however little African aesthetics I could spot in the materials used as well as the styling. The collection felt too uniformed as every piece used the exact same fabric. Not one of my favourites but as always I am open to dissenting views
The 5 pm show opened with Kenema. And it was a great start to the next portion of the show. Her use of fabric was spot on and the green dress especially had a starch feel to it. See above for the pictures. The designer after was Turita Fogg. There I was disappointed by the use of fabric. Basically it was the same fabric that we wear when we are home, the traditional African sheet wrapped around your waist… You know the one women carry their babies with back home! The men’s collection by comparison was far stronger.
Racheal Kisti Design
I liked the crop top and trousers combo as well as the right dress with the cut out detail at the back.
A nice mix of small dresses.
AAMA A LA MODE
The standard was raised the first piece. These gorgeous well tailored trousers. The designer gave us a good mix of separate pieces and dresses. The highlight were the pieces made from potato sacks. One of the old ladies sitting next to me was so cute as she exclaimed that this is what we use back home to carry food! I would definitely wear these pieces. She was a great way to end the 5pm show.
The evening gala proved to be the same as the previous shows in terms of the setting. I had been expecting champagne and canapé but there was none of that. Beyond the change to the catwalk carpet due to wine spillage from a mysterious guest, everything else remained the same. With a front row seat I waited for the final show. The guests were definitely more avant guard…
The show got off to a start with Glamelle Boutique.
Followed by MMABON who had a sporty twist to her collection.
There was an interlude with a girl group though for the life of me I cannot remember their name. The show started again with HOUSE OF BUNOR. Matching the bags to the outfit felt gauche but the pieces separated were not too bad.
Daviva is the name given to the fabric the next 5 designers worked with. We were not given the names of each designer but they appeared at the end of each’s designs being shown. I knew one due to the fact that mother had travelled all the way from Nigeria to support her daughter. her collection was one of the strongest and her long dress with the gaped front was lovely. It would have been great if she had been able to have her own time slot.
This was my favourite designer from that section.
And the rest…
The next designer hails from eastern europe and is a jewellery designer. I would definitely wear a lot of her collection as I like dramatic pieces.
We had another interlude with a really talented singer. She actually made it look easy. She was wearing a dress designed by her flatmate. Needless to say I am sure that next year that designer will be the because the dress was beautiful.
The last designer of the event was a worthy one. It was a varied, colourful and structured collection.
The models’ hair were mostly relaxed and in weaves. Some designers did use Afro hair attachments but truthfully it did not add much to the look. The natural models mostly had cropped hair and one had died it pink. It would have been gat to have seen more Afro styles as it would have gone very well with some of the designs. Nonetheless it was great showing.
Catch part 2 for the Fashion Week for the styles off the catwalk….