A CELEBRATION of African fashion and the “rich diversity” of Oxford will be held in the city for the first time at the end of April.
Created by Barton events organiser Laure Loutala Mpolo, the African Fashion Roots Oxford Show (AFROShow) will include vibrant runway performances, live entertainment, food, an exhibition shop and the chance to buy African-style clothing from across the continent by local and international designers.
The event was set up by Mrs Loutala Mpolo after she was encouraged by friends who wanted to copy her fashion sense.
“An English lady asked me ‘Where do you get those clothes?’ and said she would like to buy them. Another told me there is nothing like that here.
“With my business mind I thought, there’s a niche somewhere. But I want this to be not just about making money but celebrating African fashion.”
Alongside submissions from Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, pieces created by 12 fashion students at City of Oxford College will also be on display.
The students were offered a selection of four different materials and then put to work creating garments of their choice – menswear and womenswear – to grace the runway.
Mrs Loutala Mpolo added: “I am delighted the students have taken on the assignment with such enthusiasm and have created fashion pieces that will be seen alongside global designers and brands.
“I hope it will give them an experience and platform from which to build their future careers.”
Fashion student Katrina Stewart, 19, said: “This was a really interesting project to take part in. I learned a range of new skills and the project has also taught me some valuable lessons that will prepare me well for further study and work in the fashion industry.”
Teacher Vanessa Esposito added: “Having designed and constructed their garments, they will be able to showcase their work, which also builds confidence and enables them to start making important contacts in the industry.”
The AFROShow will be held on Saturday, April 30, at the Tingewick Hall venue in the John Radcliffe Hospital.
An exhibition shop will be open from 1.30pm to 5pm and runway shows and entertainment will take place from 6.30pm to 9pm.
Tickets cost from £10, with 10 per cent of the money raised going to Enough is Enough, a fledgling charity supporting children in Kampala.