June 30, 2015

Tale of Africa's fashion week

AFWN wrapped up May 23-24 2015 at Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

I arrived at the tents at Eko Marquee to fashion enthusiasts, photographers, exhibitors and the media. The rain didn't slow anything down on the green carpet set outside. I grab my press pass and head inside the tent to the show in progress. It was the first day, the show’s opening, and it delivered some heavy hitters. Designs mainly by the up and coming and students. I tell you, we have some talented folks in Nigeria.

This year’s installment delivered as promised, there were a lot more designers rolled out in two days. As usual, I enjoyed it all—the pageantry, the models, the designers, the intricate fabrics of different colors, textures, styles, the ethnic inspired accessories with a with a modern twist, mingling with fellow industry professionals, meeting new faces, celebrities, fashionistas, collaborators. I got many compliments on my hair. Nigeria have really come a long way in fashion, the designers were really on point this year, had me wondering who to patronize at the end of the show. I’m just glad that as time goes, African inspired fashion have gained a mainstay and international recognition.

Day one delivered designers by the up and coming and students, namely Yaba Tech, FADAN, a Nigerian Student Fashion and Design Week winner. If the showcase was any indicator, I’d say the future is bright for these designers. Day two delivered more seasoned and well-known designers that have been making names for themselves and are recognized internationally, to include my good friend Adebayo Jones (more on him later).


Designers include:

ADEBAYO JONES

AFT

ADAORA’S

ADY BY LINDA

AFRICAN THINGS

ALABI COUTURE

ANUBA COUTURE

BAROQUE BY WENDY

BELLE ARRAY

BIG BEN KILANI

BISI DARAMOLA

BUCHIVER

CHAIVO DESIGNS

COLOURS OF C.U.E

DAY_IDAH

DEBBY AFRICAN STITCHES

DE LAURELS OUTFIT

DOUGHYEEN

ELAWE CLOTHING

ELIKEM. THE TAILOR

EMINENCE 1129

ENKAYSTYLINGS

FAW COUTURE

GRAZEE STITCHES

HEMERA

HOUSE OF LINEN

HOUSE OF PAMBAL

HOUSE OF SOLANGE

JP KOUTURE BY HADASSAH

JREASON

KAYE CREATIONS

KING HAKBAL

LINES BY CHAAB X DAVIVA

LORENORE

LUMIERE COUTURE

MARCO MARTINEZ

MASSIVE BY FANNY

MAUFECHI

MBANA HOUSE OF STYLES

MC STELL

MY OLAEDO

NARA COLE

OLAYINKA CLOTHING

OKIKI MARINHO

OMAEMIHE

ON-RU COUTURE

OSUARE

QOZIE

OVEM’S FASHION

SAZIIS

SOUZA

TRISH O

T-NGAZY

RUTH 1470 ACCESSORIES

REVOLUTION BY YETTY D X DAVIVA

ZEENO DEE

VHOR

ZHUKKIIAFRO DESIGN

ZIZI CARDOW
More photos on Facebook
Designs ranged from haute couture to ready-to-wear, mens styles and children’s wear. There’s a little something for everyone and taste. There were artfully crafted evening dresses, cocktail dresses with cut-outs, thigh-high slits, long, short, asymmetrical hemlines, oversized, tailored suits, jackets, tops, pants and ethnic accessories, extensive bead work, sequins, patches, embroidery in delicate and durable fabrics and vibrant colors. It’s traditional-meets-modern, it’s afrocentric, it’s European, it’s regal, it’s edgy, it’s sophisticated, it’s classy, it’s a combination of things. Each piece is made to flatter and accentuate any curve and physique, the laces, silks and sequins just cascaded each model's body and bounced effortlessly, the fitted pieces were as if molded in place. The handbags and accessories are crafted using African textiles. Each is designed for today's man or woman, there’s hardly any design that’s not wearable.

Event highlights include performance by child models for Tinnah Stylings by designer Toyin Lawani. They sashayed down the stage with swagger, to a rousing cheer by the audience, it’s like they were born for it! Amarachi—Nigeria’s got Talent winner and former alum led the procession, performing on stage. Although children’s clothes are hardly ever boring, this designer’s is especially fun. One would be excited to dress a kid up in the morning. JPKoutrue by Hadassah presented designs for full figured women with sass. Entertainment and flamboyant personality Denrele Edun didn’t fail to do what he does best—give the audience a dose of his big personality! I give it up to a guy who can rock high platformed heels like sneakers and big hair like mine. I loved his crochet braids. Notable actors Uti Nwachukwu and Ikechuchu Ogbonna walked for Big Ben Kilani collection.
There was ample opportunity to catch the show as it was divided in three time slots, a 2pm, 5pm and 8pm. Day 1was a sensory overload as models kept sashaying down the runway in the packed tent until late in the evening. A day like this one is not without a few run-ins—with other photographers vying for prime real estate. A photographer has to double up as a hunter for great content, one has to be ruthless in the field, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Any hesitation and you miss all the good shots, any misstep or shift and another has already taken your place. There are not many second chances for the money shot, no grace. My hair drew attention for right and wrong reasons. For the general audience mostly positive, for other photographers it’s was mostly in the way or a distraction. It all played out to my advantage really, I generated fans. Photographers (and the rest of the audience) all wanted pictures—of me!

I was throughly spent by the end of the first day. I was reeling and expectant of what the finale show would bring—more heavy hitters. Attendees had the opportunity to catch the Pre Gala and the Gala Show. With my gear in tow, I stepped out in the late afternoon to the red carpet to members of the media and guests, the show's already started. They pull me aside for interviews on my personal style. I spend approx. 30 mins with a young protégé. My goal was to find the models backstage. I love to catch them out of their element, their different personalities during downtime. Backstage was organized chaos, everyone was everywhere. As a photographer, I'm always a little hesitant to get in a person's personal space. I thread softly, gaging body language, not everyone likes having their picture taken. As soon as they see me though they open up almost instantly. This was my chance to acquaint myself with all these human mannequins. "Oh yeah! I remember you from last year" some say to me. They're all smiles, posing as my lens flicker away. I catch the models, , makeup artists, other photographers, the designers. Everyone ever so curious about my hair. I laugh now as I recall these lines: "Is this all your hair?" “Can I touch it?” Apparently, Nigerians are not well acquainted with crochet braids—a hair trend that pretty much rescued women with natural hair.

The venue at Eko hotels had been transformed into fashion wonderland, models sashayed late into the evening, coming to a head at the grand finale—the Gala Show. Cool FM’s Mercy Ajisafe and Mr. Nigeria 2014—Emmanuel Ikubese kept the audience entertained, dishing out awards and transitioning the audience through the program. Socialite, business mogul and fashionista—Ms. Abiola Okoya (more on her later) introduces a cause close to her heart. As the Global Ambassador for AFWN 2015 she’s on a fight for the eradication of Sickle Cell Anemia with Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria. SCFN is making access to treatment more attainable, continues on research studies that would make SCA more or less a chronic illness than a death sentence. The disease she knows all too well as it hits close to home with two of her children. A global awareness for a disease that affect quite a population in Nigeria cannot be understated—150,000 reported cases annually, with countless healthy carriers of the gene [more info here]. I’m especially proud a platform such as this one is creating awareness for serious issues in Nigeria, to include the fuel scarcity currently suffered by it’s citizens, it was especially hard for some attendees who navigated the jungles of Lagos to obtain fuel to be able to attend this event.
Fuel Scarcity by Apple art creations
The Gala show produced exquisite designs by those that have perfected their craft overtime, notable is the King of Couture— Mr. Adebayo Jones, a London based designer, whose collection—Adebayo Jones Luxury, closed the show. He just commanded attention, his attention to detail is impeccable. His designs spell opulence, it’s luxury and regal with the use of chiffon, organzas, velvets, brocades, silks, damasks. I was blown away. It’s no surprise for a designer with more than 30 years in this business.

AFWN 2015 Style and Fashion Awardees include: Emerging Fashion designer McStell, Emerging Stylist Damilola Oke for Fierce & Modish, Emerging Fashion Journalist Antonia Soares for Complete Fashion, Most Stylish Female Celebrity Yemi Alade, Most Stylish Male Celebrity Kunle Afolayan, Young Fashion Entrepreneur Olakunbi Oyelese for April By Kunbi, Fashion Icon Opral Benson and Contribution to African Fashion Lexzy Mojo-Eyes. One lucky audience member with a business card won a round trip ticket to Africa Fashion Week London 2015, courtesy of Travelfix.
With Adebayo Jones (second left), Yetty Ogunnubi (center) and friends
Special thanks reserved to AFWN team Ronke Ademuliyi, Abiola Okoya, Abiola Olatunde Aloba, Yetty Ogunnubi, thank you for sharing your platform with me. I loved Yetty’s artsy-inspired collection, Revolution by Yetty D, filled with geometrics and color. All the wonderful people in the media and press or otherwise that I got to meet, Rich Tankley, Sonya Banjo, Shade Oladipo, the one and only African doll designer to compete with Barbie, Taofick Okoya (more on him later), the models (inbox me!). The master designer himself Adebayo Jones, next stop—definitely another one of your shows.

It’s been a whirlwind and this article is long overdue. More pictures from AFWN 2015 on my Facebook page.


Msadaku.

June 26, 2015

Meet the Brand Ambassador for Africa Fashion Week London 2015

Noella Coursaris Musunka

Noella Coursaris Musunka is an international model and the founder of Malaika. Noella was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The loss of her father at age 5, along with her mother’s lack of resources, led to her being sent to Switzerland to live with relatives. After achieving a degree in business management, she moved to London and began a career in modeling, where her first campaign was for Agent Provocateur.

Her success brought her to New York where she has been featured in a myriad of publications, including Vanity Fair, Essence and GQ. Alongside her active modeling career, Noella founded Malaika, a nonprofit that believes in empowering Congolese communities. Malaika’s work in the village of Kalebuka impacts thousands of people through their multiple programmes - a free school for girls, a community centre built in partnership with FIFA, and five fresh-water wells.

Fiercely proud of her heritage, Noella’s determination to help improve the lives of Africa’s youth has made her an international advocate for them. The success of Malaika has enabled Noella’s work to be known to a wider audience. She has been featured on Bloomberg TV, three different CNN programmes and the BBC’s Focus Africa.

She has addressed UNICEF and the Kinshasa Parliament and gave a TEDx talk in Paris. Noella has participated in many international panels and was invited to speak about the future of Africa alongside President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative’s Opening and Closing Plenaries in Morocco. In 2014, Noella was named one of the 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine

"We are so happy Noella is Brand Ambassador for AFWL 2015.  She has been a great friend and supporter of our event and ethos over the years and a compassionate, hardworking, beautiful individual who understands our drive to showcase the best of Africa."
Ronke Ademuliyi
Founder AFWL 


    "I am delighted to be serving as this year’s Brand Ambassador to Africa Fashion Week London and to help showcase the brilliant work of African designers. It has always been my belief that fashion can be a tool for breaking down barriers and transcending cultures. This industry has the ability to put Africa on the world stage and can provide for countless job opportunities on the ground and abroad, from local factories to international shops. It is time for the world to see the amazing talent that lies within Africa."
Noella Coursaris Musunka

AFWL 2015 will be held at London Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, London W14 8UX on  August 7-8 2015.  Ticket information can be found here.

Brought by AFWL.

Msadaku.
 
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