Model Alek Wek gives SA the thumbs-up
Sudan-born British supermodel Alek Wek was recently in South Africa as one of the guest judges of the Africa Fashion Awards, which took place on 3 November in the Montecasino ballroom.
Wek was invited as a guest of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2013, which took place in Tshwane and culminated in the awards evening in Johannesburg. Wek charmed everyone she met with her easy manner and clear love and appreciation for the African continent – and its fashion designers.
Nicholas Maweni from African Fashion International (AFI), the company that organised Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa, said Wek flew in from London for a whirlwind visit to South Africa: 'She had a press conference upon arrival and went on to do a surprise catwalk for the AFI-Next Generation Designers. On Sunday, she made a surprise appearance at the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom movie premiere before rushing back to the AFI Africa Fashion Awards, where she presented the judges' report and the Model of the Year Award.'
Wek cut an elegant figure at the Africa Fashion Awards, her slender frame towering above most of the guests, and looked superbly glamorous in a bold David Tlale dress.
After the awards she chatted to journalists. One thing is for sure – she's a fan of South Africa and the African continent.
'I love everything,' she said. 'I love coming back to the continent, to the people. They are very warm. I love the culture, the designs, the clothes, the food, the weather ... the list goes on and on.'
I love coming back to the continent, to the people. They are very warm. I love the culture, the designs, the clothes, the food, the weather ... the list goes on and on
She is particularly proud of being able to highlight the work of young African designers. 'Supporting the young designers for this is really something that was always very close to my heart – which means, you know, when you support a younger designer, you support what you believe in and what the next generation is going to be,' she said. 'And I think in Africa there are so many different talents from all the different countries – and this kind of a showing in Johannesburg really gives a platform to those designers that want to evolve, who want to be creative and even grow.'
Wek said the diversity and creativity shown by local African designers is inspirational. 'It’s not just one style. It’s all so unique,' she said, declaring that whether she’s in New York, London, Paris or Milan, she is going to tell her friends all about the designs that can so easily be mixed and matched.
She said there are many reasons to come back to South Africa time and again, and she hopes to return to explore some of the leisure travel options. 'Whenever I come here I feel at home and I feel really welcomed,' she said.