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


February 6th, 2012


The British Council and the British Fashion Council (BFC) recently announced the inaugural International Fashion Showcase to take place during London Fashion Week, February 2012.

This is a must attend event where 19 embassies and cultural institutes across London will open their doors and display the work of over 80 international emerging designers including those new and well known names from a selection of African countries too. The public, together with international press and buyers, will have the opportunity to explore the collections of some of the most innovative, emerging fashion designers from around the world.

The first project the British Council and the British Fashion Council have collaborated on, this new showcase is part of the Fashion 2012 Cultural Programme and has been developed to celebrate the year of the Olympics and Paralympics and honour its values of international respect, excellence, equality and friendship. Countries participating in this showcase include Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Caribbean, China, Croatia, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Sierra Leone, United States and Uzbekistan.

Each country has been asked to present a selection of emerging designers whom they feel most represents the future of fashion in their region.

I personally am excited about two main exhibitions the first being the Africa selection which indluces designers from Botswana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone in an exhibition curated by Carol Tulloch. As a response to the successful inauguration of the first Botswana Fashion Week in October 2011, the Botswana High Commission is showcasing a group of its most outstanding local designers, giving each an opportunity to display their work to an international audience, some for the first time.

Names to look out for include: Thato Tlhagwane, Botho Chalebgwa, Beryl Phala, Black Trash and Sela Motshwane. Each designer encapsulates what the Botswana call ‘Pula!’ – a phrase that symbolises optimism for the future – through a combinations of menswear and womenswear, featuring diverse influences such as slick tailoring and traditional African leteitshe fabrics.

Mariama Kargbo presents her inaugural ready-to-wear collection celebrating the rich artisan workmanship of the Sierra Leonean people. The collection features a fusion of heritage fabrics and traditional embroidery techniques, combined with modern style and design. The ethically sourced hand-woven fabrics used in this collection have been skillfully made by local artisans from Sierra Leone and feature the intricate tie-dye technique known as Gara. The design details, inspired by tribal outfits, are used as accents to create something that is uniquely Sierra Leonean; adding vibrancy and character to the silhouettes.

Sierra Leone – Designer Mariama Kargbo / Photograph by Copland Cale Photography

The reputable African fashion and culture online magazine Style House Files Presents – “Tales By Moonlight” A Fashion Folklore. This fashion exhibition invites you to journey into Africa. Where colour, texture and print unite with silhouettes drawn from regional folklore, blended with meaningful combinations of times past. The enchantment of Nigerian culture is revisited through the modern individual works of designers that range from clothing to accessories and home furnishings.

Featuring the work of Nigeria’s emerging designers, the exhibition encapsulates a wealth of traditional African motifs allied to a contemporary fashion aesthetic equally at home on the streets of London as in Lagos. Designers include Anita Quansah, Banke Kuku, Bridget Awosika, Eva Sonaike, Jewel by Lisa, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Maki – Oh, Pegwell Hill, Sunny Rose and Vintage Colette.

Nigeria_Designer Jewel by Lisa / Photograph by Casey Brooks

For exhibition bookings for this African selection contact

And another group close to my heart is the Caribbean selective as this is a significant year for my family country, Jamaica and also for Trinidad and Tobago too. Handpicked from fifteen islands across the Caribbean region, this exhibition features collections from designers who have been influenced by a mixture of African, British, French and Spanish cultures. The diverse range of designs includes the classic cuts of Drenna Luna and Julan (Jamaica) to the avant-garde style of Posh Punk (Barbados) and the resort appeal of KAJ (Trinidad and Tobago).

Caribbean-Designer Arlene Martin / Photograph by Theodore Samuels

Caribbean Collections also highlights designers who paved the way during the evolution of a regional design aesthetic including Meiling (Trinidad and Tobago) and Jenny Polanco (Dominican Republic). Jewellery from Peace-Is of Bianca (Jamaica) and handbags from Veve (Haiti) complete the showrooms collection. 2012 marks a significant year in Caribbean history as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago celebrate their Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years of Independence. Caribbean Collections is proudly set against a rich backdrop of the region’s ancestry and culture.

Sarah Mower MBE, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and Contributing Editor to US Vogue, will chair an advisory panel that will judge each piece of work, with an award given to the country that presents the best emerging fashion talent showcase. This will be announced on Sunday 19th February, during London Fashion Week.

International Fashion Showcase selection panel is comprised of:
Anna Orsini, British Fashion Council
Alison Moloney, British Council
Jess Cartner-Morley – The Guardian
Claire Catterall, Somerset House
Oriole Cullen, V&A
Wendy Dagworthy, Royal College of Art
Donna Loveday, Design Museum
Sarah Mower MBE, Contributing Editor Vogue US and BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent
Susanne Tide-Frater
Penny Martin, The Gentlewoman

The project is directed by Anna Orsini, British Fashion Council Strategic Consultant and by Alison Moloney, British Council Adviser Architecture, Design, Fashion, Arts Group. A map, guide and passport will encourage the public and London Fashion Week audience of UK and international press and buyers to follow the trail of the International Fashion Showcase around the various venues in central London.

Highlights will include:
• American design school Parsons will present 10 of its first US graduate students in fashion design at Benjamin Franklin House. Four of the participating designers were finalists of the Alexander McQueen Metropolitan Museum Exhibition
• The Flanders Fashion Institute will present a selection of emerging fashion talent from Belgium including: A.Knackfuss, Cedric Jacquemyn, OMSK and WOLF by Sofie Claes at the Exhibition at London Fashion Week. Part of this exhibition will
be a special installation created by Ra, the Antwerp based concept store.
• The Chinese exhibition unites a diverse community of designers from Mao Jihong, the designer and entrepreneur behind EXCEPTION, to Xander Zhou, listed by Forbes in their Top 25 of most influential people in the fashion industry
in China.
• Vogue Talents was developed out of the scouting activity undertaken by Vogue Italy and it will present eight talented designers at the Italian Cultural Institute in London embracing Ready-to-wear, menswear, accessories and jewellery.
• A selection of the best emerging African talent from Botswana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone will be on display at the British Council offices, curated by the V&A’s Carol Tulloch.

For participating countries, this programme allows their emerging talent to be seen by key UK and international industry professionals during London Fashion Week. It also means that the wider public can explore the fashion scene in these international cities.

On Sunday 19th February, a jury comprising of top fashion journalists and curators will award the best project with a sculpture designed by former BFC NEWGEN recipient Jordan Askill at the BFC Show Space at Somerset House.

For more information about the British Council contact:
Alex Bratt, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0) 207 389 4872,
For more information about the British Fashion Council contact:
Kimberly Carroll, PR Executive, +44 (0) 207 759 1987,

Source – British Fashion Council



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One Comment

  1. Suzi

    Hi Jacq – I will have tickets for the Botswana fashion show event as this is at my old work place if you want to come along….love Suzi x

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