Two of our acclaimed fashion designers staged meaningful shows at the opening night of the spring and summer season of African Fashion International Fashion Week (AFIFashionWeek) .
Gavin Rajah presented a special capsule collection titled “Where have all the flowers gone?” paying tribute to women who are victims violence and crime on the continent. Collaborating with floral couturier The Blom Boy, models walked down the runway in beautiful gowns paired with delicate and dramatic net flower headpieces that represented the fragility of life and how many women often feel caged or trapped in situations they can’t get out of.
Rajah’s powerful show was part of AFIFashionWeek pan-African showcase on Thursday evening named ‘African Fashion Unites” that featured designers from around the continent such as Christie Brown (Ghana), Mai Atafo (Nigeria, Eric Raisina (Madagascar) and KLûK CGDT (SA).
Models strutted the runway to the sound of live music acts by Nigerian artist Femi Kuti, Kwesta and The Ndlovu Youth Choir. The choir who recently participated in the reality music show America’s Got Talent is a joy to watch, their talent and energy is magnetic.
On Thursday, Deon Redman, Andiswa Manxiwa, and Adhiamba Mula Lauwers produced an amazing show for all the creatives who took the stage to make the first African Fashion Unites show a huge success.
Dr precious Moloi-Motsepe, the CEO of African Fashion International, has for the past 12 years given young designers a platform to exhibit their talent for all to see, and as a result, they make it to international status, such as the likes of Thebe Magugu who won this year’s LVMH Prize in Paris.
Those who appreciate the arts gathered under one roof to experience the Pan African fashion showcase where musicians such Nigeria’s Femi Kuthi, the beast from the east, Kwesta and our favourites that made South Africa proud on American’s Got Talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir- entertained guests with live performances, while models strutted on the cross ramp, parading what Africa’s acclaimed designers have created for the spring/summer 2020 season.
First to get on stage was Femi Kuti who performed during Gavin Rajah’s show. With black and gold dominating, in collaboration with Blomboy, Rajah showcased a bold, elegant collection that pays tribute to all the women who are victims of abuse on the continent.
Kwesta caused a stir when he performed, with the crowd singing along to some of his hit songs including “Ngud” and “Vur Vai”. Nigeria’s Mia Atafo was in a class of their own.
From Madagascar, Eric Raisina went hard on fine beads embellishments, patterns, and flower prints.
Marianne Fassler brought colour with the streetwear, a rainbow cool youthful collection in neon colours- with lime green and pink on the spotlight. The range had a tutu skirt, raincoats,see through cropped tops, and a bit of denim.
Using recycled fabric, Nao Serati defied toxic masculinity with a collection that included a short jumpsuit, a two-piece of a skirt and one hand top with a dramatic flower- all in rich red.
“This was a short collection so it gave me time to curate and say what my brand is really about, which is power. The collection was about the softness and the hardness of masculinity,” said Serati.
Kahindo brought breeze to the runway with her flowy summer dresses.
Other designers who showcased while the Ndlovu Youth Choir sang the greatest tunes, including Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata” are: Lion Cloth & Ashes, Lauren Cearlrine, as well as Kluk CGDT.
African stars such as Miss SA, Zozibini Tunzi, Zandile Msutwana, K. Naomi, André Lotter, Hildegardt Whites, Nicholas Nkuna, Mishal Mookrey, Theodore Jantjies, Debora Nana Akyaa Beeko, Joy Kendi Mwiandi and the Mbadiwe twins Ozee Scovy Ozumba Mbadiwe and Oseloka Holiday Mbadiwe also walked on the runway to contour-sign the message of unity amongst all African as well as changing perceptions about the continent.
“At a time when Cultural Appropriation in fashion is being discussed globally, it is important for Africa to insist on putting its stamp on African fashion, style, design; and on trends that are from this continent,” said Zozibini Tunzi.
Wrapping up day 1 of AFIFW was David Tlale, who showcased a powerful ‘Joyce’ collection, a tribute to his late mother.
Friday is day 2 of AFIFW and the showcasing designers are: Loin Cloth and Ashes, Eric Raisina, Rich Factory, Palse and Taibo Bacar.
By NONTANDO MPOSO and THOBILE MAZIBUKO for IOL.