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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beat of Africa - AltaRoma and ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative

The Beat of Africa fashion show took place on Tuesday the 15th of July in Rome as part of the city's AltaRoma fashion week. Organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) Ethical Fashion Initiative, some of the hottest African designers right now showed off their latest collections: Duaba Serwa (Ghana), Mina Evans (Ghana), Lisa Folawiyo (Nigeria) and as special project Stella Jean (Haiti/Italy).

If the logo of the event looked like something an NGO would produce, the fashion show definitely didn't. The show was super professional and the designs breath taking and fashion forward. My favorite collections were by Duaba Serwa and Lisa Folawiyo - formerly known as Jewel by Lisa. And one gown by Stella Jean who pictured Haitian women was another favorite that many visitors kept on talking about after the show.

Check-out some of the images below. Which designer does your heart beat for?

Duaba Serwa
The brand by designer Nelly Aboagye has been one of my favorites for quite a while due to its chic, trendy elegance.The collection she presented was very wearable. Perfect pieces for office to evening transition outfits! Great news for everyone who wants to get a piece of Duaba Serwa in their closets: Nelly is working on opening a store in Accra (Ghana) this year.

Lisa Folawiyo
Lisa's SS 2015 collection opened the show with a bang. Formerly known as Jewel by Lisa but now moving forward using her own name, the designs continue to be innovative, elegant, stylish and cool. I loved the color combinations and the elegant print and fabric mixture. The silhouettes were body conscious with some playful asymmetric elements. There were at least 2 pieces I would want in my closet asap! Lisa will also be part of New York Fashion Week in September so mark your calendars!

Stella Jean
Protégé from Giorgio Armani and a lot talked about, Stella Jean continues to stick to prints to create fashionable collections. Moving away from Ankara only her designs mix stripes, dots with Africa-inspired prints and other print motives. Definitely the most colorful collection of the day and as I already stated above, I loved the white gown with the imprint of the Haitian women!

Mina Evans
Soft, flowy dresses in bright colors with short or longer capes and wooden statement necklaces introduced the collection from Mina Evans-Anfom. Nice outfits for chic evening events in the Summer. My favorite was the salmon colored coat with the blue inlay and the long pink dress.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"A strong story to tell": Tartan and the African Diaspora

The exhibition "Tartan: Its Journey Through the African Diaspora" starts on the 5th of August at Craft Central in London. APiF talked to Teleica Kirkland, the Creative Director at The Costume Institute of the African Diaspora (CIAD).

APiF: What inspired the exhibition?
Teleica Kirkland: The inspiration for the exhibition came from my research of dress history in the Caribbean. I had visited 13 different islands to find out more about the similarities and differences in folkloric/national dresses, carnival costumes and local fashions. 

I knew some islands used madras fabric in their national dress, but it was only until I visited a few of them that I realized that the commonality actually gave way to marked differences in the pattern styles and colors of the madras fabric.

This makes the madras nationalistic, similarly to the clan tartans in Scotland. Many of the plantation owners were Scottish; so therefore the inspiration for all of this came from knowing that there is a very strong story to tell. Having prior knowledge of the patterns of the shukas worn by the Maasai made me realize: there were threads to this story which spanned wider than the Caribbean.  

APiF: Why Tartan and not Dutch Wax Prints?
Teleica: Madras is such a strong part of Caribbean material culture - Dutch wax print doesn’t hold the same influence or cultural cache. It is only recently that some people on the larger islands have started to adopt wax print into their wardrobe. Wax print seems to be used predominantly within west African material culture as even in Kenya/ Tanzania and South Africa it is not necessarily a popular type of fabric to use.

APiF: What is the objective of this exhibition?

Teleica: The objective of the exhibition is to educate people about this hidden history, to essentially highlight what these different cultures within Africa and the Diaspora have done with the remnants of colonialism and war. How they turned an influence brought to them through destruction into something beautiful and captivating. Similarly, the influence between Africans and the Scottish is not one sided as the band leader for a bagpipe troop will often (well they used to!) have a leopard skin worn across his body. Last time I checked there were no leopards roaming the highlands!    

APiF: What will be one of the things that might surprise visitors of the
Teleica: I think the links between the different cultures will surprise people. This is a classic case of information hidden in plain sight. I think one of the challenges some people will have is accepting the way that different cultures see and use influences. Oftentimes we in the West see things in very linear ways when really the rest of the world doesn’t operate like that at all!     

Find out more:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Right now I love: Jumpsuits & Rompers

Jumpsuits seem to be everywhere this Summer. And they come in so many different styles and prints - it is hard to settle for just one or err two. Great wardrobe add-on I say! Do you own one yet? Which of the styles do you like best?

Seen at Styles Afrik
Tribal Groove
ASOS Africa (out of stock)
Seen on Pinterest
Demestiks NY
Seen on Black Fashion Tumblr
Afrodesiac Worldwide

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Beautiful, Sophisticated, African": Thabo Makhetha

APiF: Please introduce your label/brand.
Thabo Makhetha: Thabo Makhetha is a women’s designer fashion brand specializing in quality formal, cocktail and evening wear. The company was established in 2009 and operates out of its design and manufacturing studio in Port Elizabeth.

We have been fortunate enough to be featured in a number of publications including Elle Deco and Marie Claire. In 2013 we where selected as one of the 40 Emerging creatives to showcase at the Design Indaba Expo and later that year House and Leisure magazine listed me as on of the Rising Stars of Design in South Africa.

Our belief is that when a client acquires a Thabo Makhetha Design, they are buying more than an outfit. It is an opportunity to stand out, to make a statement. To say, “I’m beautiful, I’m sophisticated...I’m African”.

APiF: What is your professional background?
Thabo: I did a National Diploma in Fashion Design. I am the head designer and owner of the company and I’ve managed various aspects of the business.

APiF: How does your cultural heritage influence your work?

Thabo: My heritage and culture is the very thing that makes my work what it is. Although I was born in Lesotho, I have lived in different provinces in South Africa and have been influenced by the large variety of cultures this country embodies.

I enjoy creating clothing that has some cultural history to it. We can't deny where we come from and shouldn't disregard it just because of where we are going. In the same way people have modernized - so can their culture and that’s what I am to show through my work: that culture still has a place in modern society.

APiF: How did you come-up with the idea to work with Basotho Blankets?
Thabo: The idea came to me back in 2011 when I had to make an outfit for myself for the Durban July. The theme that year was royalty and I know most people would automatically model their garments around Europeans like Marie Antoinette and the likes. So I decided to keep it home bound and create a Sotho Princess look.

The only problem I found when using the seshweshwe print - which is a very common fabric amongst Basotho - was that it no longer uniquely represents the Sotho people as other cultures have grown fond of the material. And so then I decided to cut up my blanket and see what I could come up with…and it worked out. I was awarded best dressed at the event.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?

Thabo: Word of mouth and social media has been our biggest elements that draw clients to our direction. We are currently establishing better avenues to get our products to the global community but in the meantime, clients are able to order directly from our studio in Port Elizabeth. We do have a number of boutiques in Johannesburg and Cape Town were one can get hold of our products.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Thabo: Know exactly what it is you getting yourself into, its a lot of work and takes a lot of dedications. Find your identity in this industry and stick to it, you can find different ways to market it but don't lose what makes you YOU. And finally, if you have the passion and the heart for what you truly love doing and are good at it, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't succeed!

Find out more:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Colour Storm by Lanre Da Silva Ajayi

Images from LDA website
Colour Storm is the title of the SS2014 collection of one of the grande dames of Nigerian Fashion: Lanre Da Silva Ajayi. Her LDA label has continued to be stylish and elegant by integrating traditional silhouettes and prints and giving them a modern, innovative interpretation. This is definitely one of the designers where I would love to own a dress someday. Her designs are always feminine and sexy. I am in love with the first dress that combines print and sheer fabric.

Which look is your favorite?

Find out more here:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Do you Dashiki?

Dashiki is back - or has it ever been really gone? It used to have this "old fashioned touch" and I considered it to be rather something that my Dad and aunties could wear. But recently it has popped-up again and is being worn and rocked in cool and stylish combinations. So now I can't wait to get my hands on Dashiki!

Here are some nice styles I found. Which one is your favorite? And: Do YOU Dashiki yet? For shopping check-out myasho, Sapelle and Doris&Doris.

Shop the top on myasho here

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Impressions: African Bazaar in Brooklyn

Sun was shining for most of the time during the African Bazaar that takes place every year as part of the Brooklyn Academy's of Music "Dance Africa Festival". An event I always look forward to at the Memorial Weekend. 

This year most of the vendors were focusing on one thing: African Prints - Baby! Yes, the trend continues. Suits me and besides great weather, great company and yummy food - there were lots of stylish and beautiful people. Here are some snapshots. Any items that you like? Comment below!

Wow Wow by Wumni
Harriets by Hekima

Origins byNasozi
Wow Wow by Wumni


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