Africa Fashion Week London 2016: Catwalk Report
By Yemisi Suleiman
From the streets of London, to the Olympia West Hall, venue of this year’s Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL)2016, this year’s event, proved that the show is firmly rooted on the European continent. For a city to which international designers have traditionally flocked, London is currently home to many of the most exciting young design talents from Africa and Africans in the Diaspora. The two day event which ran from September 9 -10, primarily projected works of young and emerging creative talents in Africa. With over twenty exhibitions on ground, it was a display of some of the best hand crafted African pieces and more, from Adubea Jensen Kente and beads bag collection , exclusively crated jewelry, beautiful ankara bags, umbrellas, to hair and skin care products for the African skin. This year, also saw the participation of the Nigerian Expect Promotion Council( NEPC) via the NEPC stand that had on display different wares of young creative Nigerians. The Bank of Industry was also on hand with a stand to provide support for AFWL and emerging designers in the country.
The daily catwalk shows featured collections sf about 50 designers comprising of young emerging and established designers across Africa. Day one kicked off to a colourful start with the queen of kaftans Tina Ugo of Didi Creations sending models down the runways in her revamped kaftans. She wowed the audience with the most beautiful chiffon pieces in tatters, asymmetric sleeves or with the back left unbuttoned right down the spine, all in bold bright, colours.
Sly Monay came up with a powerful couple collection featuring the cravat embedded in the native attire for men, with a complementing outfit for the lady. He gave the agbada a modern twist with what he calls the ‘agbada detribalised’ collection. The collection was colourful and a fresh take on Nigeria’s traditional yoruba wears. From the creative Ankara trendy collections by Daviva’s Macstel and Nipo Skin to Africa Fashion Today (Aft), day one included a series of presentations from new and emerging designers,which eases everyone gently into what is usually the most interesting fashion moments in London. Day two of the Africa Fashion Week London had it all. Grown up bags, print ipad cases and carrier bag at Meme Bete, structured pieces and bags by Lady biba and more., Exquisite craftsmanship on the catwalk from Victoria Grace And some seriously star-filled front rows made up of the wife of the vice president of Nigeria Mrs Dolapo Osibajo, Ogun State first lady, Mrs Olufunsho Amosun and other government officials were there to capture it all.
The day’s collection was full of sex appeal from Soboye, structured pieces by Lady Biba, sheer by Tina Lobondi. Nigeria’s Signature Secret wowed with her ankara studded, crop tops, jackets and ankara cigarettes pants. Ceaser Couture, sent models down the runway in old British look with the checkered plaid jackets with large lapels. Laura Jane was on hand with the ankara shirt dress constructed to an asymmetric coat. Each girl wore a subtly different version of what her mate was wearing, with the majority of them in the house’s signature pattern.
On her part, Mrs Osibajo, used the platform to showcase her charity foundation; Step-Up Skills Acquisition Training project, which was created to empower women in Nigeria. The show featured designs by trainees of the Step Up program, who displayed their creativity on the runway in various finely crafted handbags According to Mrs Osibajo, Step Up has participated in some exhibitions like the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria in July 2016 and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and ITC SheTrades round-table and exhibition in Abuja, also in July 2016, and more, with the objective to showcase the creative prowess of Nigeria’s talents to the world.
On the whole, designers played with lots of prints, flowing, silhouettes, flora shorts, chiffon blouses with plunging necklines, the dashiki had a swell time on the runway with designers displaying different cuts and styles of the beautiful fabric. Lead designer for the year, Tanzanian Mustafa Hassanali, showing in London for the first time on the platform of AFWL, closed the show with a shimmering collection of dresses with sleeves that were flirty and fun for the woman who loves her glitter. For Ronke Ademiluyi Founder of the AFWL, success for her is not just about putting up a fantastic show without any itch, but there is the satisfaction of knowing that every year, values will be added to the business of our fashion designers who are showcasing on the AFWL platform .