From the Lagos Fashion Week to the Mozambique Fashion Week and Accra Fashion Week, every fashion week is set out to achieve one thing or the other in the fashion industry under various themes. Seeing as to how African fashion is becoming global, the fashion weeks held in Africa are increasingly used to show the creative prowess and versatility of African designers.
The annual African Fashion International (AFI) Johannesburg Fashion Week took place from the 10th to the 12th of October, 2019. The event, which was founded in 2007 by businesswoman and philanthropist Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, held at the Sandston Convention Centre with the theme ‘African Fashion Unites’.
AFI was established to help propel and restore African fashion brands to the global stage by showcasing African talent at a world-class level. The organisation celebrates the high-quality goods produced by African fashion artisans and presents the craftsmanship and talent of local designers in the best way possible.
The show was not one that was used only to showcase the latest designs from the top designers in African fashion but was one that was used to promote unity and social cohesion.
Showcasing their designs at the fashion week were designers from all over Africa, including Nigeria’s Mai Atafo, South Africa’s David Tlale, Mozambique’s Taibo Bacar, Ghana’s Christie Brown, and Madagascar’s Eric Raisina. The fashion event was not all about fashion as there were musical performances from artists such as Cassper Nyovest, Femi Kuti and the popular Ndlovu Youth Choir. The African cuisine served was prepared by Chef Coco of Epicure Restaurant.
Among the fabrics that made it to the runway were bright African prints, florals, tulle, raffia and textured and woven fabrics. The runway was bursting with colours and had models of all sizes and shapes walk it in regular as well as Avant grade outfits.
The fashion show stood true to its theme of ‘African Fashion Unites’ by bringing together diverse talents, not only in fashion, from all around Africa, but also in music and cuisine, and marrying them together to truly give a taste of Africa in one place. The mix of African designers all sharing one stage and showcasing their designs was a reflection of unity even in the diversity in Africa.
The AFI Masterclass that held on the 12th of October, spoke further to the theme by bringing together experienced speakers from around the continent to speak on topics surrounding the driver for success in the fashion industry. The choice of top models, which came from all around the African continent, used in the fashion show also showed a form of unity in African fashion.
Apart from the designs by different designers that were showcased on the stage, other aspects of the show also showcased unity in Africa. Aspects like the African dishes that were served at the event and the music also pointed to unity in Africa.
In line with the call for Africans to unite, the Motsepe Foundation supported the African Fashion Unites show. The foundation is one that focuses on programmes in tertiary education, women’s empowerment, and support of small-scale farmers and SMEs. The foundation is one that has also supported initiatives that promote social cohesion in the past.
The show also featured AFI’s pop-up fashion boutique, Privé, that shows and sells its in-house brand, Privé. The brand networks with skilled artisans in small communities from Madagascar, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and many more to create beautiful, unique and interchangeable pieces.
The brand believes in sourcing ethically and making long term and life-long transformation in the lives of the artisans they work with.
Responsiveness of Fashion Lovers
The fashion show, which is one of the biggest in Africa, was very well attended by fashion lovers. It created such a buzz amongst fashion lovers with various fashion blogs raving on and on about the show.
Setup and Decor
The setup and decor of the fashion show were simple yet elegant and unique.
The white runway was set up in the shape of a cross, thereby, effectively segmenting guests into 4 different quadrants. The runway stood at a slightly elevated level above the floor the guests sat on.
At the top of the runway, where models emerged from, sat 3 large LED screens that displayed various graphics, depending on the theme of the collection being showcased on the runway. On both arms of the cross sat 1 smaller LED screen each, displaying the same graphics as the 3 larger ones.
Depending on the designer, models walked either in all 4 directions of the cross or in 2 directions, the conventional way, back and forth. All of the guests in all 4 quadrants had a full view of the models as they displayed amazing designs by various designers.
For some designers, the runway also had little touches of decorative pieces placed on it to further pass across the message and ambience the designers wanted to arouse in guests.
Overall, the AFI Johannesburg Fashion Week 2019 was one that showcased the creativity that lives in the African fashion industry. It showed that African fashion looks so much better when placed together and that it is the future of fashion.