African Fashion Week hits London

August 25, 2015 lalibella lalibella

The fifth African Fashion Week hit London this month and created a splash in the capital with more than 100 designers wheeling out traditional prints, cutting edge designs and even a tribute to Cecil the fallen lion.

African Fashion Week has become a mainstay on the London fashion scene and the fashion community look forward to a breath of fresh air when the African nations come to town. The name is slightly confusing, as it’s a two-day event at the moment, staged at London Olympia, but all the signs are encouraging – the show has established itself as a serious event on the fashion calendar and it is set to keep growing.

This year Ankara was a focal point of the show, with the wax print fabric featuring heavily in a number of collections.

One of the stars of the show was a black mourning dress for Cecil, the lion that was famously shot and killed by an American dentist this year, sparking an international outcry. Designer Mary Martin’s response was a stunning black dress with a tulle, or mane, around the neckline. The designer worked day and night to finish the dress in time for African Fashion Week and was rewarded with international headlines of her own. Other major designers included Ade Bakare, from Nigeria, Senegal’s Adama Paris and Tsholo from Botswana.

As well as the traditional fashion shows, African Fashion Week had a marketplace where 50 designers and fashion houses could sell their wares. Jewellery, shoes and bags were all for sale and the crowd spent as much time buying as they did appreciating the fine catwalk fashion collections.

>>Check out the African Fashion Website here

Emalda Mbulo and Suwilanji Katuka, who both volunteered as helpers at the 2014 show, were named the young designers of the year after their wares wowed the crowds on the catwalk. The two youngsters showed how a little determination can go a long way with their award-winning ‘Warrior’ collection.

Of course, the African community was heavily represented, but the visitors to the show were an eclectic mix that proved how African fashion is successfully crossing over to the mainstream and penetrating the public consciousness.

Kim Kardashian, Michelle Obama and more have all been pictured in Ankara print and other fashion pieces of late and bold African prints have started to be seen at the major fashion shows in London, Paris and New York. African fashion, then, is making a major impact on both sides of the Atlantic and African jewellery, in particular, has found a devoted following in the UK.

African Fashion Week is still in its infancy, but it is helping to draw attention to African designers in the UK and to spread the message of bold Ankara, African jewellery and more. Next year’s show promises to be even bigger and better, so fashionistas should mark next August in their diaries and head to the show.

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