4 November 2011

Africa showcases its distinct style

Review of Africa Fashion Week

Africa Fashion Awards 2011 Ozwald Boateng and Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe at the Africa Fashion Awards 2011

Our country has much to offer, from abundant beaches, wildlife, mountains and exquisite scenery, but what sets it apart is the warmth and creativity of its people. We’re happy at Africa Fashion Week to have helped to bring global attention to our country’s fashion industry and world-class design talent, which is yet another reason for visitors to come and explore our distinctive destination.Roshene Singh, SA Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer

Africa is a continent that easily inspires - which some of the biggest designers in global fashion can attest to - and which fashion fundis from around the world experienced first-hand at this year’s Africa Fashion Week, held recently in Johannesburg.

The likes of Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenburg are about to launch African-inspired 2012 collections, but to experience the very best in authentic African fashion, from designers, models, colour and creativity … Joburg and Africa Fashion Week was the place to be in October.

From the catwalks of modern Sandton in Joburg’s business district to the vibrant streets of the suburbs of Alexandra and Soweto, Johannesburg provided a thrilling backdrop for designers and fashion followers from across the continent.

More than 30 designers showcased their unique African collections from as far afield as Egypt, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, Sierre Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria at this year’s event.

“We’re definitely achieving our goals as we go along. We had some of the very best designers from the African continent at Africa Fashion Week and you could see it clearly meant a lot to them to be here. I got this real sense of ownership from the designers, them saying ‘this is our platform, on our continent and it’s the very best we have’. We still have a long way to go, but there’s definitely evidence that in time we have the potential to grow into the stature of fashion capitals such as New York, Milan or Paris. We’re moving into African fashion brands being very distinctive and retaining their individuality, yet also being very sellable, wearable and globally relevant internationally,” said Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Chairperson of African Fashion International, owners and organisers of the event.

Highlights of the three-day fashion extravaganza were the collections of Nigerian-born Lola Faturoti, Bunmi Koko (who count Michelle Obama among their clients) Somalia-born twins Mataano (whose moving story was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show) and South African talent Alexander Koutny, Marianne Fassler, Kluk CGDT and David Tlale.

British-born menswear designer of Ghanaian descent, Ozwald Boateng, walked away with not only the coveted Designer of the year (International) Award at the annual Africa Fashion Awards, but was also re-invigorated by the creative talent of the continent’s designers.

“I have been doing this for a while and have never said that Africa is my inspiration...I feel that this is a great start,” says Boateng, who was clearly impressed by the quality of the African designers on show.

Boateng stayed on in South Africa after the event to shoot his new catalogue, affording the country yet another opportunity to display its colourful diversity to a global audience.

For fashion guru Michael Roberts (Vanity Fair’s Fashion Editor), Africa Fashion Week was an excellent opportunity to get a real sense first-hand of a continent that is inspiring the current collections of the world’s leading international designers.

“I found Africa Fashion Week and Johannesburg incredibly enlightening. It was a huge education in what’s going on fashion-wise in South Africa and on the African continent. It was a great experience seeing so much fashion that was really professionally done. It was my first trip to South Africa and it reminded me of my first trip to Brazil, although South Africa is more advanced fashion-wise, with African designers not afraid of exploring their creativity through their ethnic background. African designers need to stay true to their design aesthetics and what they believe in and they will eventually succeed,” commented Roberts.

For UK Vogue contributor, Elisabeta Tudor, African Fashion week was a refreshing break from the ordinary.

“I really enjoyed Africa Fashion Week. It’s rare to see a show where established designers share the same platform with young, up-and-coming designers and everyone is equal in the way they showcase their work. I’ve covered a lot of Fashion Weeks all over the world and Africa Fashion Week definitely has great potential. African designers use the influence of their African culture strongly in their work, but not in a clichéd way, and they stay true to their heritage - while still producing world-class work,” she observed.

Tudor was swept up in the excitement of spending time in the economic powerhouse of Africa, from the world-class infrastructure of the Sandton CBD to the raw energy of the townships and traditional markets.

“South Africa and the African continent is different in its own unique way and Johannesburg is beautiful. I like cities where within one hour you have the impression of being in two different worlds. I loved the contrast, it’s really dynamic,” said Tudor.

For New York-based Nigerian designer, Lola Faturoti, who achieved acclaim for her distinctive silk dress commemorating US President Barack Obama’s inauguration, African Fashion Week was about more than what happened on the catwalks.

“I was impressed with the organisation of Africa Fashion Week. Everything went very smoothly, but what I was most impressed with was the South African people. From the people I met on the streets to everyone working on Africa Fashion Week, they are the most beautiful, lovely people,” Faturoti said.

And for South African Tourism the event was another opportunity to showcase to a global audience a colourful, artistic side of the country’s lifestyle offering.

“Our country has much to offer, from abundant beaches, wildlife, mountains and exquisite scenery, but what sets it apart is the warmth and creativity of its people. We’re happy at Africa Fashion Week to have helped to bring global attention to our country’s fashion industry and world-class design talent, which is yet another reason for visitors to come and explore our distinctive destination,” says SA Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer Roshene Singh.

Issued by South African Tourism

For further information contact

Jermaine Craig at SA Tourism

Tel: +27 11 895 3000

Email: Jermaine@southafrica.net

Jessica Wheeler at Ireland Davenport Public Relations

Tel: +27 72 731 7691

Email: jessica.wheeler@ireland-davenport.co.za

Website www.southafrica.net

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South African Tourism is the national tourism agency responsible for the marketing of South Africa as a preferred tourist destination. It is headed up by Chief Operating Officer and acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Timothy Scholtz and Chief Marketing Officer, Ms Roshene Singh.