African Fashion Week London 2013

Just over a week ago, I went to my first fashion show! I heard mixed reviews about previous shows so wasn’t sure what to expect. Either way I was still excited about attending the final day. I arrived later than planned, hot and flustered and stepped though the main doors. Upon entry I was eagerly handed a bunch of Lyca Mobile leaflets and other flyers. Unfortunately there was no air conditioning in the venue at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, East London, so I was glad I had a bottle of water with me!

Even though I had never been to African Fashion Week London (AFWL) before, I had preconceptions. Thinking I’d see an array of ethnic models nonchalantly striding down the catwalk in African print fabrics. Subconsciously I was probably thinking this would be justified; after all, like African printed fabrics ethnic models aren’t widely represented in the mainstream fashion world.

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One thing I didn’t expect was to see, was models running down the catwalk which was a welcomed injection of energy to one of the shows. Even though the DJ kept our heads bopping with Afrobeat tunes infused with pop music, the hall was uncomfortably hot at times. Some people (the smart ones) had fans, but I’m guessing they had been before and I’m a novice to this fashion show stuff! Speaking of being a novice, after the second show, as I was filing out of the main hall with the rest of the crowd, desperate to feel a cool breeze skip across my forehead, I was caught off guard by the papz! Yes, one of the commissioned photographers wanted to take a picture me as I was leaving the hall, so I hurriedly shoved all the bits of paper and free magazines into my friend’s hand and tried to strike a pose lol. I didn’t expect anyone to stop me for a picture; I thought the papz were there to take pictures of the models and designers! I’ll be more prepared next time, but for now you can see the picture at demotix.com (just type in African Fashion week 2013) and the phone version below:

Via the phone

Via the phone

Via the papz

Via the papz

I finally left the main hall and met various stalls of shoes, hand bags, clothes and ornaments.

AFWL BAG STALL

afwl barb back

afwl barb front

AFWL girl with head wrap

 

There were white, black, Asian, Middle Eastern and mixed-race models with different shapes and heights which I thought wasn’t the norm for a fashion show, so was nice to see. Not all the fabrics were printed; some were plain with intricate cuts and styles, especially in the last show of the night, which mainly showcased couture pieces. Overall, as Friday Born Designs said in her blog, my favourite designer was also Jesssica Baah; who showcased designs that I would actually wear myself…in real life! I started taking pictures with my camera, but due to my poor preparation, I forgot to charge the battery, so had to resort to using my phone, then that battery started to die! I did manage to get some pictures from a friend, so check them out below and visit the African Fashion Week London 2013 website to see more!

As the night sky fell and my début fashion show experience drew to an end, I was glad that the models were from different ethnic backgrounds and there was a variation of  fabrics used in the designs. I didn’t realise it when I arrived but, expecting African designers to only use printed fabrics was limiting my outlook on African fashion. While I’ll always love wearing African prints, they are not just for people with a connection the motherland; the same way Armani suits aren’t only worn by Italians! Most of the attendees were black, but there was a handful people from other cultures.

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It’s amazing that African prints are now being embraced by the diaspora on a greater commercial scale. The title of ‘African designer’ should be announced with as much prestige as ‘Italian designer’. Prints or no prints the designers are talented and it’s great that they (and others) are getting inspiration from what is on their own doorstep rather than only seeking for inspiration outside of their heritage. There is an interesting TED Talk which touches on this too.

In a nutshell, I’m glad I went, the day ran relatively smoothly but next time I will be prepared:

  1. Charged camera
  2. Fan
  3. A pose that would make Iman proud! 🙂

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2 comments

  • Thanks for the mention! Nice post 🙂

  • I think things have moved on from the traditional African attire. The print is still there but the style has completely changed.

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