BLKonBLK - - African Beat -

Al­taroma is in its 25th year. The ven­er­a­ble event is more than a fash­ion week, it fuses high qual­ity artists (this year US street artist DAIN headed up a sub­stan­tial list), fash­ion (from Ital­ian cou­ture houses to African de­sign­ers), launches new tal­ent ( Who Is On Next and A View On Tal­ents - both in part­ner­ship with Vogue Italia) and pairs artists with de­sign­ers (A.I - Ar­ti­sanal In­tel­li­gence) among many more events, exhibitions and shows. Beat of Africa was the ITC Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive’s op­por­tu­nity to showcase not only the in­creas­ingly fab­u­lous work of Stella Jean but three of Africa’s ris­ing stars in Nelly Ha­gan Aboagye (du­aba serwa) of Ghana, Nige­ria’s Lisa Fo­lawiyo and Mina Evans, also of Ghana. A shared vi­sion be­tween all of the de­sign­ers at Beat of Africa emerged; a colour pal­ette of earthy, yet vivid hues; fan­tas­tic prints that of­ten verged on pic­to­rial;an­dan­ab­so­lute­sense­ofthe­in­fu­sion of cul­ture into gar­ments, ac­ces­soris­ing and even styling. Nelly Ha­gan Aboagye has de­signed from an early age when she be­gan re­siz­ing her mother’s clothes to fit her­self and de­spite studing in the med­i­cal field at the Univer­si­ty­ofghanain­le­gon­sh­ere­turnedto her first pas­sion, fash­ion, in 2007 when she launched a jew­ellery line. She named it du­aba serwa (Serwa, the daugh­ter of a tree) and by 2011 had ex­panded into mak­ing dresses and that year won the Bri­tish Coun­cil’s Young Cre­ative En­tre­pre­neur Award. This year’s Al­taroma marked her 6th in­ter­na­tional fash­ion week. Mina Evans grad­u­ated from the London Cen­tre for Fash­ion Stud­ies at Jo­han­nes­burg De­sign School in South Africa be­fore work­ing un­der the premier fash­ion de­signer in Ghana, Mr Kofi An­sah to learn her craft. Mina Evans-ans­form de­scribes her styleasa­loveof“fus­inglux­u­ri­ous­fab­ric­swith Ankara to pro­duce fem­i­nine, stylish pieces that are wear­able time after time.” Ankara is of­ten called African print, was orig­i­nally a Dutch wax print but now very clearly gives the im­pres­sion of African cul­ture. Mina Evans also has a range of menswear dress shirts which she says are “care­free and cool with a hint of afro­cen­tric­ity.” In ad­di­tion to Al­taroma, Mina has just shown at Glitz Africa Fash­ion Week held in Ac­cra, Ghana. Lisa Fo­lawiyo launched her first la­bel, Jewel By Lisa in 2005. Like Mina Evans she had al­ways had a love of Ankara but felt it had been worn and used for ever. She de­cided to cre­ate some­thing new by em­bel­lish­ing the fab­ric with Swarovski crys­tals, se­quins and beads and Jewel By Lisa was born. More re­cently the la­bel be­came the epony­mous Lisa Fo­lawiyo and has en­joyed con­sid­er­able suc­cess, not just in Nige­ria but fur­ther afield. Showsat­lagos­fash­ion&de­sign­weekhave been joined by Jo­han­nes­burg, London, Paris, Mi­lan ( Vogue tal­ent) and New York Fash­ion Week (twice). She re­tails on­line through Moda Operandi, has col­lab­o­rated with Black­berry and L’oreal and has even sold her line in a pop-up store inside Sel­fridges. All three de­sign­ers al­ready have solid lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional fol­low­ings and like Stella Jean are mak­ing their mark in many places. The Beat of Africa show it­self was fan­tas­tic. Held in the Sala Lan­cisi, a hall inside the mag­nif­i­cent Com­p­lesso Mon­u­men­tale, Santo Spir­ito in Sas­sia, a stones throw from the Vatican, at­ten­dees in­cluded Suzy Menkes - Vogue’s In­ter­na­tional Fash­ion Ed­i­tor, Al­taroma’s Si­mon­etta Gian­f­eleci and movie star Rosario Daw­son who is co-de­signer with Abrima Er­wiah of Stu­dio One Eighty Nine. It is per­ti­nent that seven of the ten fastest growinge­conomiesinthe­worl­dareinafrica, th­ese de­sign­ers are well poised to grow their busi­nesses. The ex­cit­ing thing is that, with sup­port­ers like the ITC Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive, they are also grow­ing the chance to in­cor­po­rate and spread their cul­tures to the world.

du­aba serwa web­site Mi­nae­vans web­site Lisa Foli­wayo web­site

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