From Nairobi to New York – African design is making its mark! Increasingly so, cultures from across the continent are soaking up design inspo from the African continent.
Whilst animal print and safari staples have long been a fashion hit (and will continue to make their way back time over) more recently tribal design, tones and textures are finding their way into the limelight. Taking a closer look at international runway trends Africa is a standout when it comes to eclectic print and unique design.
Luminary fashion designers such as Louis Vuitton (featuring the Machangani bag lookalike and Lesotho inspired woollen Basotho blanket scarves); Stella McCartney’s more contemporary incorporation of traditional Ankara prints; Alexander McQueen also drew on African beadwork in a series of garments such as his beaded cutaway dress and matching heels. In Spring 2016 Valentino’s collection was heavily influenced by African tribal gear with tassels, totems and feather adornment. And, more recently Marc Jacobs leveraged traditional African design culture through an integration of dhuku (head wraps) when he sent Kendall Jenner and Kaia Gerber down the runway in his Spring 2018 collection.
With Western designers seeking inspiration from the various African and pan-African cultures, a migration to host Fashion Week on the African continent is beginning to unfold.
Historically, Africa Fashion Week London has celebrated a flamboyant mix of London’s unique and diverse cultural heritage topped with an infusion of African culture; a bevy of Afro-centricity.
This Spring, on 11 October 2019, Cape Town South Africa is set to debut a rendition of New York Fashion Week – New York Runway SA – bringing together an eclectic mix of New York and SA designers for a fashion first showcasing. The event, taking place at Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers, is the first of its kind; an amalgamation of fashion cultures from the two of the world’s art and design capitals – the Big Apple and Mother City.
Showcasing designers from New York include Michal Hidas – an Israeli designer residing in NYC, renowned for her African inspired prints and cuts; VanElse by Else Hardjo also celebrated for modern take on traditional African garb. These together with designers Honee for House of Honee representing extravagant futuristic apparel and Michael Lombard whose approach takes to bold leathers and studded ensembles.
Representing the forefront of local fashion – SA’s King of couture who has graced the NYFW runway for the past three years consecutively – Jacques LaGrange; LFWBeachCult by Joanna Hedley – an AFWL local launching her latest Midnight Safari collection featuring the Prowling Leopard print by Emijl De Kock; along with New York fashion week local KLûK CGDT – all showcasing their Spring-Summer collections.
Another major show on the couture calendar is the annual African Fashion International (AFI), now presenting in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, which features the leading designers from across the African content.