Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


December 27th, 2011

Africa Fashion Week New York – EVENT REPORT

afwny campaign

Africa Fashion Week New York (AFWNY), was produced by Adirée, and literally heated up the US fashion capital of New York from Thursday July 14th to Saturday July 16th. Taking place at the Broad Street Ballroom  located in New York City’s financial district,  AFWNY hosted three days of runway showcasing international designers from the African Diaspora. After receiving an official proclamation from Mayor Bloomberg in its first year, AFWNY has been under good auspices to prosper in one of the world’s fashion capital. Preceding the event, AFWNY has been featured in internationally acclaimed magazine and publications such as Elle Magazine, Bullet, and the Washington Post, to cite a few. Directed by Adiat Disu and produced by Adda Tidjani, AFWNY give talented designers a platform to showcase their design, promote their brands and raise their visibility on a global fashion stage.

Thirty handpicked designers showcased at the event representing various countries in Africa such as Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ethiopia,Nigeria and Zimbabwe.At this year’s AFWNY, twelve designers represented Nigeria: Aamaa a la Mode, Asakeoge Couture, Bebe Grafiti, Editalo Designs, Funlayo Deri, Jo Black Craze, Kachi Designs, Kozby World, Mirembe Collections, Rouch, Toriola Custom Design and Washington Roberts. Sponsors included BMW, AveYou, Origin Africa, The Naked Grape, and Makari de Suisse.Vendors throughout the event were Design by U, Funlayo Deri, Indego Africa, Jessica Designs, Makari de Suisse, MO SAÏQUE, Pearl Xclusiv, Renarda Joy, Rouch, Suakoko Betty and Xenson.

It was a hot attended event as R&B singer, actor, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and former lead singer of group B2K, Omarion was seated front row opening day at AFWNY. Paul Wharton, first seen as the popular Model Coach from MTV’s MADE television series, and recently seen as a stylist on the The Real Housewives of DC, was also present.

Fikirte Addis from Ethiopia, was sponsored by one of Adiree’s partners Origin Africa. Origin Africa is a USAID Compete Africa supported initiative, whose mission is to support African trade in four sectors; one being fashion & accessories. Shoes by John Ashford and Ghanaian shoe line MO SAÏQUE escorted each individual design on the run way, on all three days. Isha Sesay, journalist and anchor for CNN International was in attendance and sat front row, after she interviewed AFWNY’s Director, Adiat Disu for a segment aired on CNN International last week. caught the entire experience from the casting calls to the last model on the runway on film.

Guest New York contributor – professional designer Makeda Scille attended the popular event that was Africa Fashion Week New York event on behalf of AfricaFashionGuide and gave us her take on the shows, the designers, the attendees and much more.

Makeda Scille – at AFWNY – Photo courtesy of Spottin Style
“I was surprised to hear that African fashion week New York existed. I had not heard of it prior to being asked to attend by my friend Jacqueline of AfricaFashionGuide. Obviously this event is nowhere near as big or publicized as New York Fashion week and does not run as a side line to it either. I was surprised to hear that the whole AFWNY event was  part organized by a 23 year old lady. To pull off an event of such scale and get designers to participate, photographers out of their studios, models strutting down the catwalk, people to attend and sponsors to provide funding is quite an achievement. Hats off to Adiree.
When I arrived at the event it was an hour prior to starting, photographers were already there setting up camp to get a good spot and shots of the runway. The press room was stocked with white, rose and red wine for press to enjoy, people were mingling and there was a general feeling of expectation in the air. The DJ had the music pumping which consisted of a funky mix of dance music and African music.
Whilst waiting for the show to start I managed to have a quick chat with some of the designers. Designer for Asake-Oge Couture, whose collection was to show on the 2nd day, ensured she was there to support her fellow African fashion designers. We got to talking about her inspiration, but as a designer myself I realize the question, what inspires you has one simple answer: everything! When we got to talking about sourcing and production she advised that she sources all of her fabrics in West Africa. Once the fabric is found then the concept for the garment is born, but generally not before. Asake-Oge Couture likes to source locally and produce locally to support the community from which she comes from. For now her collection is sold mostly at events such as AFWNY and online only. In the pipeline for Asake-Oge Couture is an appointment with Liberty to discuss doing a possible African fusion like with them. She dreams of having her designs in major retailers stores such as Macy’s.
Another designer I got talking to was Mo Saique who I can see takes great pride and pleasure in her work. Of African heritage herself, she sources her fabrics in Ghana, designs her collection in London and produces in Italy for that added luxury and glamour element added in. The results, a high end African founded shoe collection that appeals to the mainstream industry but still supports trade in Africa.
As the crowds began to flock in the general buzz of the atmosphere began to grow.  Some people came dressed for a fashion show rocking their own African designs, some more contemporary main stream styles whilst others simply wore jeans and a non descript T-shirt.The show in true fashion style did not start on time and many attendees did not arrive until the last minute.
Amazing jewelry designs by ‘Design By U Jewelry’ at AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
Press backstage AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
Nana Mr.Kingdoms Poku backstage at AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
prints prints prints backstage AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
representing Africa backstage at AFWNY – Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
As the room filled I had the feeling that I was at a wedding with some of the attendees attire. Once the show kicked off, part way through the crowd were surprised with the fact that there actually was a wedding there. A young couple strutted their stuff down the catwalk in one of the designer’s outfits and the whole bridal party including the bride and groom wore studded shoes.  Amongst the arrivals was singer, dancer and actor Omarion who arrived with an entourage. He stayed and watched some of the show.
What I did see whilst I was in attendance was a lot of color, color was in abundance! There was a mixture on men’s and women’s wear. Many of the styles were western silhouettes with African inspired fabrics. Some collections added fully traditional African outfits in for a more authentic feel/look. There were also a lot of fitted and tailored looks all of which incorporated African inspired print fabrications. The accessories were phenomenal, well done to the stylist for the show as all of the collections were pulled together nicely. You could tell that a lot of thought and planning had gone into the show and representing the designers collections, the hair was in its own right a work of art!
I also attended the show on the last day and was blown away. I had a great spot at the end of the runway snapping pics along with the other photographers. There was a great lingerie/swim collection featured , by designer Adama Paris, which caught my interest as that is my field, lingerie design. I managed to talk to the designer after the show. The designer is from Senegal and firmly believes in supporting Senegalese textiles and trade. She currently resides in Paris but doesn’t see why she should do trade anywhere else when she has the wealth of talent right in her back yard. The collection she advised was inspired by the water. She is a great surfing fan and uses this fascination as inspiration for her African lingerie/swim collections. Her company was founded by her simply making designs for herself and then building a customer base around what she herself would personally want as a consumer in her market sector. The collection appeared to be received very well by all. Her designs are sold in Africa, she has a staff of 24 people now working for her and has a website where her products can be purchased for international shipping.
One of the last designers (who participated in the show) that I spoke to was KikoRomeo, a woman from Scotland with strong African roots, in the sense that she would not do trade any other way. All of her clothes are produced in Kenya. The company was founded in 1996 and is still growing strong today.  When asked, Why African fashion?, she responded for her love of the colors and freedom she finds designing African inspired clothing. Ann Mcgreath enjoys working in the African fashion sector instead of the mainstream world of fashion which she feels is too strongly dictated to, and likes the creative freedom that she has in creating her own looks, trends and using the colors and silhouettes that she feels suitable for her seasons collection. KikoRomeo is currently looking for stockists.
Ann McGreath-KikoRomeo AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
Accessories of the attendees were notable, taking literal but fun take on African fashion/styling and then have images/shots I got of people wearing the funky accesories particuarly one of a stylist (Shawanda Walker) wearing earrings the shape of Africa with bright swirls of painted color. Also the head wraps and African print earrings, such as those by ‘Design By U Jewelry’ and ‘Free Peoples Rebellion’, and the neon play earring from the label NeFer SisSTARS .
Shawanda -Stylist at AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
‘Design By U Jewelry’ at AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille
Sarah E. Williams – Free Peoples Rebellion Jewelry at AFWNY-Image courtesy of Makeda Scille

But we know you wanna see just what was showing from the catwalks – check out the following shots – hot from the catwalk below courtesy of Adiree and AFWNY (full credits below photos).

BLACKBIRD JEANS – image courtesy AFWNY
BLACKBIRD JEANS – image courtesy AFWNY
BLACKBIRD JEANS – image courtesy AFWNY
BLACKBIRD JEANS – image courtesy AFWNY
FIKIRTE ADDIS – image courtesy AFWNY
FIKIRTE ADDIS – image courtesy AFWNY
FIKIRTE ADDIS – image courtesy AFWNY
MADAM WOKIE – image courtesy AFWNY
MADAM WOKIE – image courtesy AFWNY
MADAM WOKIE – image courtesy AFWNY
MADAM WOKIE – image courtesy AFWNY
SUAKOKO BETTY – image courtesy AFWNY
SUAKOKO BETTY – image courtesy AFWNY
SUAKOKO BETTY – image courtesy AFWNY
EVENT: Africa Fashion Week | New York 2011
SPONSORS: Compete Africa, BMW, Makari De Suisse, Ave You, POP DRUM
PHOTOGRAPHER: Avaloni Studios
MAKE UP : Renarda Joy
HAIR : Salon Red & Spa
FOOTWEAR : Mosaique
FOOTWEAR : John Ashford
JEWELRY : Dabanga
JEWELRY : Mushana
Images Compliments of Avaloni Studios

About Adirée:
Adirée, based in New York, NY, focuses on event production, organization, and consulting for small to medium size clients in the areas of Fashion, Art, and Culture.


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