Fashion for Africa
30 African designers showcased their work, writes REBECCA JACKMAN
FASHIONISTAS from across the continent descended on Joburg and Pretoria this week, eager to be a part of the vibrance, flair and colour of Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Africa, which is this year showcasing the work of 30 designers from 15 African countries.
Fashion Week Africa is the third annual event on African Fashion International’s calendar, after Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town and Joburg. The fourth and final event of the year will be the Africa Fashion Awards, which take place tomorrow evening.
Hosted by the City of Tshwane, most of the Fashion Week Africa runway shows took place in Pretoria’s City Hall.
Cape Town designer Gavin Rajah officially kicked off the event. He was followed on Wednesday evening by Amaze Africa, a collaborative effort combining fashion, technology and nature. The brand brought together 14 leading fashion and accessory designers from across Africa, paired them up and asked them to present four “exclusive looks that define a futuristic vision for Africa”.
Designers from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, the Ivory Coast and Uganda worked together to create “a collaborative aesthetic”, which proved very popular with the fashionista crowd.
Mozambican designer Taibo Bacar, named designer of the year at last year’s Africa Fashion Awards, paired with Cape Town accessory designer Pichulik, with the theme “cycads”, to create an almost treelike aesthetic of sleek greens and browns, and the ethereal effect of gold hair.
Meanwhile, designers Sunnoz Fiel and Tekasala ma’at Nzinga, for brand Projecto Mental, from Angola, brought Afri-chic suits to the runway, paired with printed bags by Kenyan accessories brand Rift Valley Leather.
Top South African couturier David Tlale closed the first day. Guests were bundled into buses and transported to a secret offsite location, the Rovos Rail station, where he marked the 10th anniversary of his brand by combining the magic of rail travel and ballet into an enchanting runway show on the platform.
He also showed his ready-to-wear collection, A Celebration of Heritage, with models emerging from the darkness at the end of the platform in vibrant green and red, gold-tinged prints, followed by no less than 20 pink dresses.
On Thursday night Marianne Fassler watched not from backstage, but smiling from the front row as she presented her own collection of bold and beautiful prints and feminine, flowing dresses.
The highlight was certainly the whiteand-grey delicately-printed wedding dress, which created much chatter among the crowd.
Fassler also paired with accessory designer Quamta for Amaze Africa the previous night before.
Last night Bacar was back on the runway for his own show, along with the collections of Bongiwe Walaza, Duaba Serwa, Murade, Mustafa Hassanali and Soucha.
Tonight the festival of fashion is set to end with shows from Sophie Zinga, Projecto Mental, and an off-site finale by Cape Town’s own KLUK CGDT, a collaboration by design duo Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel du Toit.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE: Marianne Fassler’s grey-and-white, delicately printed wedding gown was the highlight of her show. Its runway debut at the end of Fassler’s extravaganza on Thursday night caused much chatter among the crowd.
OUT OF AFRICA: Gorgeous catwalk creations from Marianne Fassler (left and centre left). Right and centre right are the outfits of David Tlale, who closed the first day with a secret-location show on the Rovos Rail platform.
BOY’S OWN: Laurence Airline, the fashion label from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, showcased menswear
CUT-OUT COUTURE: This elaborate work of art, featuring cut-out couture by David Tlale, was among his collection of inimitable designs.