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Fashion Week London 2015 – Africa style

Cuts for him met with – Left to Right: Ginny (frogirlginny Blogger), Maggie Smith (model and winner of face of Africa Fashion Week London 2015), and Rene Daniella (Ownbyfemme Lifestyle blogger),
Designed by Soraya Da Piedade. Modelled by Somer Louise

Africa Fashion Week London or AFWL has come a long way since its inception in 2011. This year’s event was held at the Olympia London on the 7th and 8th of August. It is another great example of how the African culture and lifestyle is influencing and taking roots in London as mentioned in my post August in Africa summer festival 15. AFWL is by a wide margin the largest catwalk event in Europe celebrating African styles and designs and has caught the attention of many even beyond Africa and Europe. The show has attracted over 300 hundred designers and more than 40, 000 visitors.

I personally have little reservations about a few designers’ commitment to pushing the art from being a dream to truly becoming an avant-garde were by the framework for future African fashion is laid. Up to the point of typing this post, my research laid bare, for the lack of web presence on some of the designers and exhibitors.
Living in a world where everything points towards digital, its surprising this minority have not tapped into this area to make themselves known.

Nsoromma by Tribal Piece


Notwithstanding, collectively the runway shows for 2015 have been spectacular with many designers pushing the boundaries to widen the horizon of what is expected from an “African” themed fashion show.
It is no longer the case where Ankara and Kente dominates the catwalk to represent the entire continent.
For many years, designers have used these two fabric types to create what they saw as the embodiment of African fashion.
To my delight, this is no longer the case and even for those who use Ankara and Kente have done so in such clever ways as to show a different dimension to the art of designing.

Mary Martin London - Cecil the Lion inspired dress
Mary Martin London – Cecil the Lion inspired dress


A good example is Mary Martin London. Mary Martin showcased some beautiful pieces to include a Cecil the Lion inspired dress. “When I saw the lion on TV I was deeply shocked” said Martin as she was interviewed by the BBC world service. Martin spent many nights working on the dress in time for the show. Other designers who showcased beautiful pieces on the catwalk for the 6:30 show on Saturday were:

Amanda May
Needle point
Soraya da Piedade
Vanelse
Sarah Arthman
Kilumba
Steve Mandy
Nsoromma by Tribal Piece

The organisers did a fantastic job to put this show together and i think it is going to get bigger and better in the coming years. I am already looking forward to AFWL16. As a men’s fashion and lifestyle blogger, i wish there were more men’s fashion designers out there. May be this is an area up and coming fashion enthusiasts need to look into.
Browse through the photos and let me know what you think by leaving a comment

 

August in Africa Summer Festival 2015

African art, craft, food, music and culture are fast taking roots in London and beyond. You only have to pop into any event with a slight connotation of African culture during the warmer months of the year to see the different style and designs of Ankara and Kente garments donned by men and women alike. Not that these two fabric types are the only African cloth but these are more easily recognisable due to their vibrancy and the amount of people who wear them. In fact there are so many other African textiles well worth exploring such as Akwete cloth, Ukara (both from the Igbo people of Nigeria), Aso Oke Fabric, Adire (from the Yoruba people of Nigeria), Mudcloth from the Bambara people of parts of Mali, Guinea, Burkino Faso and Senegal, Kitenge and Shweshwe from Kenya and South Africa respectively. Did you know that the earliest surviving African textile discovered dates back to the first Century CE? This was discovered at the Archaeological site of Kissi in Burkino Faso.

African food itself is becoming a staple for many as new restaurants serving different African cuisines continue to pop up in the city. That is all nothing compared to the way Afrobeat (a highbred of Jazz, highlife and funk) with West African origins, have taken hold of England. There’s no way you can go to any night club in central London without at least a handful of Afrobeat songs being played to an appreciative audience.

So it came as no surprise when I walked into the Covent Garden piazza area on Saturday the 1st of August to hundreds and hundreds of people happily floating in and out of the area. Covent Garden was truly alive with vibrant coloured garments, delicious smelling food and upbeat sound of music that is unmistakably Afrobeat. The atmosphere was electrifying to say the least.

Because I did not have the opportunity to dive into a massive plate of Jollof rice and Plantains, I was particularly looking forward to being entertained by the lyrical specialist and poet that is Alim Kamara. This young man has a way of playing with words like no other. I have been fortunate to see him perform live on several occasions and he always delivers. In fact he was the only act of the day I could vouch for based on experience. To my disappointment, I was too late and I missed his performance. Imagine my dismay. However, Fuse ODE who performed just after I got there made up for this disappointment. Fuse ODG has become a household name in the UK with big collaborations with Wyclef and Sean Paul in “Antenna” and “Dangerous love” respectively. One of the things that made Fuse ODG a standout act to me is his thirst to show Africa as a thriving continent with much more to offer than the stereotypical and outright wrong image of the continent. His music or should I say movement does not only have good beat but carries a political message and a message of hope for a new Africa.

The event came to a fitting end with the fantastic and soulful performance of the Nigerian French singer and songwriter, ASA. I mean I could write a whole blog post about this woman’s performance and it wouldn’t be enough. Listening to her serenade the crowd with songs such as “Fire on the mountain”, “Eyo” and many more beautiful ones highlights an influence of great artists such as Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Her performance left the very diverse crowd from different background wanting more and a great example of how African cultures have impacted this great city of London.

The festival itself was organised by the Africa centre that has a 50 year history with the aim of promoting Africa’s cultural diversity outside the continent. It literally provides a hub for creativity, innovation and business in all matters pertaining to Africa.

In case you are one of the unlucky ones who did not get to see this wonderful event, make sure to check out the pictures below. Leave a comment and question! And if you were there, then feel free to add to the conversation by posting a comment below. Ta

 

 

Prague: the style capital for architecture

Ok, first of all, why haven’t I been to Prague before? And how come no one ever mentioned to me how beautiful this European city was? As someone who loves travelling, why do I know so little about Prague? In fact the only thing I have heard about Prague is that it is a hotspot for stag dos and cheap beer. Cheap beer of course naturally attracts young British tourists. As someone who is not a huge beer fan, this was hardly a selling point and would rather sit in front of the lake in Geneva watching people go about their business. But here I was in the middle of the old town in Prague on a Friday evening with a look of bewilderment and surprise. Surprised at what my eyes were seeing. Just in case I haven’t already said it, Prague is incredibly beautiful.

The fact that I was blown away by its beauty is probably down to me having little expectations. If anything, I had this notion that the city is overrun by old Gothic looking buildings and architecture with beer houses dotted all over the place.

In fact I know so little about Prague or the Czech Republic in general that I only found out their currency is Koruna when I was on my way to Heathrow airport to catch my flight. I mean seriously what on earth was I thinking? All along I assumed it was the euro.

Waiting for my flight at the airport with little to look forward to, I began to plan how I could explore the fashion scene in Prague, which based on a link a friend sent me, hardly exist. Knowing at least that Prague is not a city associated with fashion and trends; I was determined to discover up and coming Czech brands that I could blog about. I mean there has to be more to Prague than stag dos and cheap beer and if I should spend my time exploring anything, then it has to be fashion. Well that was the plan at least.

The reality of what I ended up exploring couldn’t have been any more different to what I had in mind. The architecture! All of it and I mean Romanesque, renaissance, gothic, functionalist, cubist, classicism, historicism, post 1989 and by far my two favourites, Baroque and Rococo. The architectural styles span several centuries and makes the city looks like it wears it history on it sleeve.

If architectural diversity and taste were fashion, Prague would have been the capital of Europe ahead of London, Milan and Paris.

Anyway, enough typing for now as I would rather the photos speak for themselves. I hope they do justice to this wonderful city. I will do another blog post about Prague in the near future to share more photos.

Enjoy!

The view of the city from Vyšehrad castle

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The view of the city from Prague castle

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Prague Castle in the distance

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Baroque and Rococo architecture

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Gothic architecture

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Prague by night

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The Prague astronomical clock, or Prague orloj

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The Crucifix on Charles bridge  

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