Africa Fashion Week London 2018
Last weekend I attended Africa Fashion Week London #afwl2018.
I was blown away by the spunk, funk, glamour, splendour and freshness of the entire event. I got to watch the latest catwalk shows from top African designers; meet some great people; mix with Nigerian and Congolese royalty; get up close and personal with stunning, French models and shop with on-trend African brands that I would never have otherwise come across.
And here’s me on the day trying really hard in my African print skirt!
The catwalk shows
What I watched
I attended the second day of Fashion Week and sat for the penultimate and final shows of the week. I watched shows from a total of 21 designers representing:
- Ivory Coast
- South Africa
My favourite Shows
It’s about providing alternative ways to wear African clothing giving it a more youthful twist
I loved Catherine-Monique’s use of contrasting textures. In her menswear collection, the leather/skin print bomber jackets stood out to me the most. They mixed casual, wearable chic with African textures.
Throughout her women’s collection, she used plush fur against silky satin. Mixed in with striking, rich colours, the show was a sight to behold. I wear a lot of fur in the winter. But I’ve never been brave enough to rock a fur in a bright colour or a pastel. The show was aspirational for me… considering that purple top and bottom number.
Nedim Designs stole the show with this yellow, South African print, floor-touching, flowing, A-line dress with accompanying triple tier headdress. The crowd gasped and whooped and the statuesque model gave everything to that walk.
Nedim Designs is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Its an exclusive brand making only a limited number of each style. Nedim Designs’ signature style dresses boast a full skirt which flows from a pinched waistline: accentuating the curvaceous loveliness of the black female form.
Life is too short to dress sadly
Beau Sapeur showed wearable, chic matching sets for women and men. The prints were somehow flamboyant and understated both at the same time.
The brand makes 100% cotton, ethically handmade, ready to wear clothing in Uganda.
Jesu Segun‘s catwalk got all the ladies hot under the collar. It was beautifully curated with fine topless specimens caressing the runway. Not only wearing the exclusive shoes but also serving them up to us on silver platters.
The Jesu Segun show was a great reflection of what the brand represents. It brought superior masculinity, beauty, untouchableness and luxury.
Jesu Segun London is a highly exclusive brand. They make only short runs of 10 or so pairs per design. Their shoes have been worn by presidents, on the red carpet and by many celebrities around the world. You can even bespoke your shoes with diamonds, gold or your initials.
Mary Martin brought a collection of gothic, dramatic evening dresses to the catwalk. There was a stunning range of textures. The show was an eery, stylised take on modern femininity. Bringing to life Emo ballerina, beached mermaid and jilted bride characters.
Designers killin’ it
You know when you see highlights of catwalk shows on the news and you see the designer come out at the end? And you’re like: “Is that really him/her?!” This dull, drab-looking individual in black jeans, a black t-shirt and what looks like some beat up, old, Converse All-Stars on their feet.
Well, there was none of that going on here! One of the stand out things to me was the fabulousness of the designers themselves. They had style, they had swagger, they had colour and they were certainly vivacious.
It just brought me joy! A few that I particularly liked were:
Andrew Moss Mackenzie of Jesu Segun London owned the runway, tribal mask and all.
Rebecca Adeoye of Becca Apparel in her elegant, sexy and perfectly formed Cara red scuba dress.
Samson Soboye of Soboye jaunted down the runway looking dapper in a blue double-breasted blazer and print trousers.
And last, but not least, Osbourne Ojarimoni of Erenti strutted his stuff in a way I’ve never before witnessed and did it all in the tightest pair of trousers I’ve ever seen.
The Grand Temple
The catwalk shows took place in the Grand Temple of the Freemason’s Hall. The Grand Temple is where the Masons hold their ceremonial functions.
Each show benefited from the epic backdrop of the 3 massive gilt organs, the speaker’s pulpit and raised blue velvet seating. The drama continued with the sloped walkway that the models entered and exited the catwalk on.
AFWL 2018 was held, for the second year running, at the stunning Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden. The juxtaposition of this magnificent yet traditional, 1930s Art Deco building and the exuberance and glamour of AFWL was overwhelming.
AFWL 2018 colonised the foyers, atria, stairwells, cloakrooms and cubbyholes of Freemasons’ Hall in a way that, probably only Africans can. The exhibitors swathed their style and identity all over Freemasons Hall in such a way that the Hall itself became their perfect, complimentary accessory.
The Exhibitors’ Market
The final part of the AWFL puzzle was the Exhibitors’ Market. Rooms and Foyers full of African fashion available to buy. To be found in the Hall’s Grand Robing Room, Vestibules and Entrance Hall. There was clothing, grooming products, footwear, jewellery, bags and, of course, headdresses.
So after you’ve seen it walk down the catwalk, you could rock up, buy it and take it home. Perfection.