A solitary model appears before the curtain. Drums thump as the lights come up and the woman leads two (very handsome) men in saris draped in jewels by Megan Isaacs. One- by- one they pass flowers to the front row guests as they make their way down the runway. After they pass, the room once again goes dark. We shift in our seats.
The lights brighten again and the show begins. A variety of designers grace the runway with their vivid creations, each unique and wildly different from the rest. The evening opened with Fares Cherai of Tunisia, presenting a futuristic collection of leather and jersey in modern silhouettes. Léonché of Sierra Leone wowed guests with a colorfully printed backless evening gown. Vida Mahimbo of Tanzania presented a collection of urban casualwear, featuring printed denim jeans, capris and shorts. The falcon print was a personal favorite. Qétura of Nigeria’s pretty, wearable collection boasted printed minis, patterned cut-out dresses and fabric necklaces. A modern, fresh perspective that hinted at its Nigerian heritage, the animal print romper and pleated empire band bustier highlighted the collection.
Nigeria’s House of Bunor was awesome. A contemporary styling combined with pretty, unique detailing resulted in a collection that could be seen in stores in New York. The best items featured textured prints combined with embellishment details, like the origami pleated sleeveless shift dress or the navy satin dress with fluttery discs. An edgy elegance, with a similar aesthetic to Tibi or Nannette Lepor, the House of Bunor featured a great many beautiful, must-have pieces.
Other collections were great, too. Atal Stella of Uganda featured embroidered sportscoats with striped lining, Kozby World of Nigeria came down the runway featuring a chunky, beaded accessory line in oversized styles. Fabulous Fingers of the United Kingdom was the only swimwear line of the evening, boasting crocheted cover-ups in a variety of complicated stitch patterns. Bebegrafiti of the Niger Delta had a collection of pretty pink eyelet dresses, gold embroidered party dresses and embellished evening jackets. Kumba Wear of Senegal highlighted bright cotton prints mixed with sophisticated evening touches, and featured the night’s solo child-model, who swaggered down the runway as if she owned it. Someone get that girl an agent!
Hands-down, my favorite designer of the evening was Darryl Jagga of South Africa. Highlights of the collection included an adorable dress with striped detail, a tribal printed long dress, a bubble mini dress with banded hem, and men’s casualwear. A sophisticated, slightly cheeky collection, it was a beautiful mix of quality craftsmanship and original designs.
The entire night was so impressive, and the organizer’s efforts resulted in a seamless, professional presentation of some of Africa’s most talented designers. It was an exciting peek into what will undoubtedly blossom into a fruitful apparel industry in the continent’s near future.