The weather - typically British: damp, overcast and just plain miserable. A train journey, which usually takes a swift fifteen minutes was derailed (excuse the pun) due to planned engineering works. I, concluding that bringing a change of flat shoes would ruin my outfit was forced to hobble around both Paddington and Earls Court station in 5 inch heels. I was faced with all of the makings of an otherwise appalling day but as soon as I stepped foot into Kensington Olympia the beauty of day 2 of Africa Fashion Week London 2016 washed my woes away.
‘Created by Ronke Ademiluyi, Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) is Europe's largest catwalk event of African and African-inspired design.’ The two-day event featured six runway shows, inspirational talks, music performances and an array of vendors selling everything from hair care products to breath-taking garments and accessories. With this jam-packed schedule the open event certainly achieved its goal ‘to increase the visibility and awareness of African designers by providing them with an affordable global showcasing platform.’
Without a doubt, the runway shows were the highlight of event. No collection was like the other as viewers were greeted with an eclectic mix of traditional and modern pieces. Models expertly stomped down the runway to music that made me enraged with the fact that I had deleted the Shazam app a week earlier.
August – Silk and satin pieces in vibrant colours coupled with fringed hats that somehow provided more coverage than the one Beyoncé wore in her formation video.
Detour Fashion – One of my favourite collections. The mix of orange, white and tan tones were incredibly complimentary. There was something for everyone. You could tell that the pieces were designed with the everyday woman in mind.
Lady Biba – Models walked to classical music wearing pieces that fit them like a glove. One of the simpler collections in terms of colour palate however, the expert tailoring left a lasting impression.
Meme Bete – At one point the roar of the crowd was so loud that the room was vibrating. The buff and statuesque models provided a welcome dose of eye-candy but even they could not steal focus from the stunning swim shorts and bags in traditional prints.
Ngoni & House of Okosun – A colour palate which screamed retro chic. The jackets were really the star of the show. Cut in a loose fitting fabric, the prints were broken up by flat muted colours as to not overwhelm the outfit.
Modern Heritage – Casual clothing with a twist. One model strutted down the runway in what seemed to be a simple romper only for her to turn and reveal large black asymmetrical sleeve.
Cotilda – Full of structured co-ords. A mix of floral patterns and monochrome prints. My favourite piece - the black and white cigarette pants which featured drawings of young black women.
Her excellency, Yemi Osinbajothe - wife of the Nigerian vice president Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, gave an impassioned speech at the end of the runway show. Mrs Osinbajothe highlighted the economic impact of the fashion industry and its ability to bring people out of poverty. Mrs Osinbajothe also discussed her initiative STEP UP, a programme which trains women and men with various skills required to start up small businesses.
Among many friendly faces I bumped into Daniel Dadson (bottom left) from ABN - The African Broadcast Network, which will be airing coverage from African Fashion Week London 2016 on their channel (SKY 235). I will be live in the studio at ABN radio on Friday 16th September to discuss all things Fashion Psychology so make sure you tune in.
It's safe to say that I will be returning to Africa Fashion Week London next year. The fashions, the performances and the sheer energy that encompassed Kensington Olympia were second-to-none.
The event was a truly eye opening experience. It showcased some of the continent's best talent and still left me yearning for more. There is room for this event to grow and we will no doubt be promised a bigger and better event come 2017.
African Fashion is becoming ever popular within Europe. Throughout the years you can see the influence African style has had on both luxury and high street brands through their adoption of traditional African prints and colour schemes.
Africa inhabits some of the fastest developing countries in the world with and has an ever expanding fashion sector. More than just a trend, African Fashion is a worldwide movement that is here to stay. Now, please excuse me as grab some of the beautiful cloth I purchased at the event and watch a series of YouTube videos in an effort to achieve the perfect head wrap.
All pictures are owned by The Psychology of Fashion