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South Africa: African Fashion Week sets the stage for African Designers

Africa Fashion Week. Source: www.jamati.com

The 2010 FIFA World Cup has put South Africa on the map. With the football tournament proceedings in its 3rd week, almost without incident, the country proved that Africa has got what it takes to be a serious player in hosting international events.

Not to be outdone by their sporting counterparts, African fashion designers are showcasing their talents in a mini fashion world cup of their own. This is the Africa Fashion Week to be held between 30 June and 3 July – towards the tail end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

According to Africa Fashion International (who will host this event), Established South African fashion-world heavy weights including Marianne Fassler, Errol Arendz, Stoned Cherrie and David Tlale will show alongside global talents like Deola Sagoe (fresh from New York Fashion Week) and current celeb-favourite Laquan Smith.

Jessica Ramohoebo giving me her thought on Africa's fashion industry

I recently caught up with a South African stylist and blogger based in Dubai, Jessica Ramohoebo, and asked her about Africa and the fashion industry.

The media most often depict Africa as a war-torn, starved continent that is constantly in need of aid. While there are many issued that we can’t run away from, there is a brighter side of Africa. It is not all poverty – we are a creative bunch! Fashion is art and art should
never be killed. It’s kind of like art in the middle and everything that stems from it.

With all its problems, should Africans be focusing on fashion?

In no way do we, in the fashion industry mock distress. As Africans we need to be using our skills responsibly. Our fashion industry is providing jobs to people – we are making a contribution.

Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Chairperson of African Fashion International says in a press statement,

Africa Fashion week is providing a platform for shining stars from across the diaspora, the continent and the country. The world continues its love affair with all things African. African as a point of reference, not as a cliché and it’s very important we here in Africa
continue to support that.

Ndebele design

Back to Jessica. So, what can the African continent offer the world of fashion?

We are just touching the surface of what we can do. I’ve seen this personally in my travels. Other places just don’t have what we have. The whole continent is inspiring. We are lucky we have not been bombarded by chain stores. We have been able to develop our own “African-ness”. The world is taking note. Just look at Christian Louboutin using Ndebele inspired designs in his shoes

There is an excitement in the blogosphere about this event. Nyiti Tabiti notes:

The Super Eagles of Nigeria (Lets forgive those those who call them super chickens) may not have had a superb performance at the on going FIFA World Cup in South Africa but we are proud that our fashion idols are also going there to prove point this month.

Voice of Nana Fosu says that the event is completely rare and unique:

It is rare, in fact completely unique, to have all the leading voices in African Fashion in one place, at one time, in one country.

Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly considers the event a “wonderful break from all the football madness”:

African Fashion Week has been a wonderful break to all the football madness although the seats were sadly empty for the first shows of the afternoon. I wish all those who had no football to watch could have been invited to witness our slick fashion teams at work.

Blckseed writes about the first night of the show:

The 2nd annual Africa Fashion Week got off to a not-so-smooth start last night at the Sandton Convention Centre with shows delayed by 45 minutes. I missed the first show, but managed to see the second one; a display of glitz and shimmer by Nigerian designer Deola Sagoe. Her cocktail dresses were an exhibition of workmanship with lots of detail in the form of sequins and mermaid-like frills and pleats, at times. Deola, I gathered, places very little emphasis- if any- on Afrocentricity rather going for modernity.

“Stylish launch for Africa Fashion week” is Lebogang Tsele's video of the event hosted at Times Live Multimedia.

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