Coinciding with Milan Fashion Week this year was Afro Fashion Week, with NuoveRadici.Word as its media partner.
The fourth edition of Afro Fashion week unfolded under the gaze of its godmother Georgette Eto’o and two women painted by the Italo-Congolese artist Luigi Christopher Veggetti. It more than met expectations. In 2016 Michele Francine Ngonmo and Ruth Akutu Maccarthy organized the first event in Italy devoted to African fashion. In its fourth edition, Afro Fashion Week brought together appraisers, sector professionals, influencers, the unmissable Chinese buyers, and journalists struggling to find space among highfalutin badge wearers and the simply curious, for two days in the White Balance Space on Via Procaccini.
Fashion Shows and Collections
Two days, six brands. The first to walk the runway was Sassape, a streetwear collection in which the jacket was the absolute star: colourful, without a belt, worn with jeans or a black minidress. Afroroots, the first collection of Flavia Fargnoli, “a Roman with an African heart” as the vice president of Afro Fashion Ruth Akutu Maccarthy called her, had totally different aims. Polished short silk monochromatic suits passed by on the White Balance Space catwalk along with examples of defined lines and patterns that echoed West Africa.
Wanki Couture brought the first day of shows to an end. This is the line of the young Wanki Derrick, who is only around twenty-years-old, and a finalist in the competition “Emergence of African fashion on the international scene” from the project CAMon. Around one hundred students from the Libre Académie des Beaux-Arts di Douala (Cameroon) participated in this competition. From these, twenty were selected to attend the intensive course directed last year by fifteen sector professionals – stylists, designers, influencers, scenographers and tailors. During the last edition of Afro Fashion Week twenty styles produced by the students at the end of the course were shown. This year we were able to see two entire collections, created in Douala with fabrics from the company Ratti, technical sponsor of Afro Fashion Week.
Pride on the Catwalk
After the tambourines and the dance of Afroots opened the second day, the first brand to walk the runway was Ethnical Revival by Marc Bell. Models sported a collection that reflects the interior world of the French stylist of Cameroonian origins – among which precious kimonos, an incredible silver-plated suit, and deconstructed jumpsuits in tartan, stood out – to the beats of All life is, Fui Mborda, Ça A Déja Commencé and Yo Pe.
Then the moment came to witness the creations of the Afro-Italian stylist Aida Aicha Bodian, who put forward two capsule collections. Both express the pride of showing who you are. The wearers of the Nebua lineproudly sport a Senegalese textile tradition reinvented in contemporary form, while the slogans printed on the t-shirts of Melanin Nappy literally proclaim joy in being black. Two eight-year-old African origins twins Rayhan and Francois, known as the iTwins, walked for her show as they had for Ethnic Revival.
From Douala to Milan
The fourth edition of Afro Fashion Week closed with the brand Djujie di Djuidje’s catwalk show. Lynne Rolande was the winner of the CAMon competition and is a student of Fasion Design in Laba: her clothes are made to be enjoyed and to disrupt stereotypes around high fashion (apart from the iconic wide brimmed hat).
This last collection, made in Douala, partly with Ratti fabrics from Como, was shown to an international audience for the first time on this occasion in Milan.
All this unfurled under the attentive gaze of the president of Afro Fashion Michelle Francine Ngonmo. To show her appreciation of all the participants she wore a creation from every one of the six stylists who participated in Afro Fashion Week this year.
(traduzione a cura di Cleo Malca Nisse)