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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

 

A fresh look at the denim shirt

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Today’s look is all about the denim. I know the red tie on this particular look is the one but forget about it for a minute and focus on the denim shirt. All eyes on denim!

Now that I have your undivided attention, let me start by saying that I am assuming every man reading this post has a denim shirt in their wardrobe. Is that a resounding yeah, or a nah? If you already have one then I guess you are winning, but if you do not have one, then I strongly suggest you go out and get one now.

Denim is a garment that automatically conjures the preceding word “casual” in fashion. The denim shirt itself has re-emerged over the past few years as a strong essential in men’s wardrobe. An essential that has done very well for itself when speaking casual. Because denim is so synonymous to casual wear, people rarely look at ways and means to spruce it up for that extra flair.

Don’t get me wrong, a denim shirt by itself (without blazer) with a pair of contrasting jeans or chinos looks good. When worn correctly, it is the stuff casual wear is made of.

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What you may not be aware of is that you can actually build up this strong essential to give you an amazing and relaxed smart casual look. A look that wouldn’t break the bank but still harness the versatility and style required to break the rules on pairing garments. The thing about breaking rules in fashion is that when you get it right, people automatically know that you know what you are doing. You have an edge over others which is what any man with interest in their looks should aim for.

As mentioned, the denim shirt works well as a standalone garment but I personally prefer the idea of using it as a layering garment as I strongly believe that’s when you get the most out of it. You can pair it in many ways appropriate to the season and the occasion.

I have put together a look that showcase my idea of dressing up a denim shirt!

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The look:

Blue jeans
Beige blazer
Washed blue denim shirt
Blue jeans
A pair of beige slip-on shoes to match the blazer
Stripped red tie
Red pocket square

If your aim is to have a more quirky and different looks then I suggest you replace the tie with a bow tie. As I have said in previous posts, the bow tie always delivers a look no other garment does.

And if you are wondering just where or what occasion to rock this look to then I strongly suggest you start with your casual Fridays at work. Because it is casual Friday does not mean you have to turn up at work with an AC/DC worn out t-shirt with converse. I mean all that has its place in your dress code cycle but please leave that for the concerts and gigs. Rock this look on a casual Friday and you are guaranteed to still turn heads when you head to the bar after work.

 

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

 

 

Dressing up a rainstorm – Brit style

Ok not exactly a rainstorm but I’m sure you know what I mean.

They say the surest way of striking a successful conversation with a Brit is to start with the weather, preferably over a cup of tea. To certain extent, we are a bit obsessed with talking about the weather. Outsiders think we moan when it’s wet, when it’s hot, when it snows or even when the leaves fall. I mean it is true to a certain extent but for the most part, we just like talking about something that everyone can relate to and the weather fits perfectly.

Did you know 2012 was the second wettest year for Britain since records began? 2012 had an average rainfall of 1,330.7mm and only 6.6mm short of the record set in 2000. There you go, bet you did not know that did you? Thought you would appreciate a completely unrelated trivia. You are welcome! #Sideeye.

Anyway back to the issue at hand. Whiles the weather is completely out of our control, what we wear through the seasons is and that is where this post comes in.

Just because the heavenly precipitations aka rain has not yet completely relented does not mean you have to go through your wardrobe to dig out your raincoat or other heavy garment. It is true that the unpredictable weather can be cruel at times when you least expect it but let’s not panic just yet. I recon you can still look the part without wrapping yourself with too many layers.

I have put together a few photos of two looks that I think are versatile and practical for the season. A friend and brother Oliver Kumawu was kind enough to model with me to demonstrate these looks.

Oliver opted for a smart-casual look whiles I went for a more business friendly look.

There are three key ingredients to explore in both looks, which are as follows:

Blazer

You have to have the blazer. The appropriate use of a blazer can easily transform a casual look into smart-casual, and smart-casual into smart. Every man should have at least three blazers in their wardrobes bearing in mind colours that are versatile.

Oliver opted for a velvet blazer which he pulls off very well. Velvet itself is a statement fabric that speaks volumes of the owner. Get it wrong and you would be sorry you ever considered it an option at all. But get it right and you‘re the man, literally. Wear one of these on a wet and cold day and you won’t need additional layers as the weave of the fabric is very close together restricting air flow which in turn keeps you warm.

I on the other hand wore the first half of a midnight blue wool blend suit. Because the jacket is contemporary and close cut at the shoulders and waist area, I am able to mix and play around with it with different combinations with relative ease.

Trouser

Oliver wore a burgundy/redish pair of classic chinos whiles I went for a grey with a hint of brown lightly stripped pair of dress trouser.

Shoes

I wore a pair of brown tasselled loafers whiles Oliver went for a pair of blue suede wingtip oxford lace up brogues which complement the colour of his shirt. The fact that his shoes are suede perfectly suits the texture of his velvet blazer.

Oh and the pocket squares gave both looks an extra dimension of suaveness.

So there you have it. Whiles we wait for summer to make a grand entry for 2015, we can still look the part for the remaining few days of the wet and slightly chilled weather.

Photography by Cano

The look

Black velvet blazer – M&S
Coloured Chino – John Lewis
blue suede oxford lace up brogues – M&S

Midnight blue jacket – FCUK
Stripe dress trouser – Zara
Brown Tasselled loafers – Paul Smith

Stylist – Digital Curator – Blogger