Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Africa Fashion Week brings style fusion to London catwalk

By Teo Kermeliotis, for CNN
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon August 5, 2013
Africa Fashion Week London took place in the UK capital last weekend, hosting the creations of 65 designers from across the continent and the diaspora. Africa Fashion Week London took place in the UK capital last weekend, hosting the creations of 65 designers from across the continent and the diaspora.
HIDE CAPTION
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
Africa Fashion Week in London
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Africa Fashion Week London was held from August 1 to 3
  • Inaugurated in 2011, the event promotes emerging and established designers
  • Organizers say they aim to hold the event twice a year and set up a distribution outlet

(CNN) -- Loud music pumps through huge speakers, front row guests cheer and a parade of stunning models electrifies the gleaming catwalk -- welcome to Africa Fashion Week London.

Currently in its third year, the glamorous event saw dozens of big names and up-and-coming designers from across the continent descending on the UK capital's hip district of Shoreditch to unveil their latest stylish creations.

"Our platform is about promoting emerging and established Africa-inspired designers," said Ronke Ademiluyi, founder of the event, held from August 1 to 3.

"The main thing is to bring attention to them, to showcase their creativity to the world so they get more global recognition for what they do and more appreciations for their brands as well."

Vibrant colors

The runways featured designs from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and Morocco -- but also from the diaspora, including Britain and the Caribbean.

A fashion show to inspire Africa
African immigrant moves to fashion world
Fashion magazine targets 'Afropolitans'

In many ways, the event reaffirmed why Africa-inspired designs are fast catching the eye of the fashion world.

Mixing current trends with traditional patterns, more than 60 designers graced the catwalk with a wide array of colorful creations -- everything from show-stopping evening gowns and modern urban casualwear to bold textured prints and chic accessory lines.

Glorious colors in the desert: Darfur's fashionable women

Ademiluyi says the continent's fashion today "represents a fusion of contemporary and African designs" awash with "a lot of vibrant colors and tribal trends."

Amongst those giving a modern twist to traditional styles is Nigerian designer Fashola Olayinka with her Lagos-based label "MOOFA Designs." Her latest collection, "Ashake" is celebrating the "very powerful and strong women" who "turn heads wherever they go to."

"That's basically what's the collection is about," says Olayinka, who started the label about four years ago. "Women who are very feminine and sexy."

Read this: Congo's designer dandies

The young designer says that despite the existing challenges, such as frequent power cuts, it's very exciting being part of Nigeria's fashion scene right now.

"We work hard and we party hard, so it's been really fun and it's a growing process in Nigeria," she says. "Nigerians like to dress up and a lot of people in Nigeria are now wearing their own fabrics."

Our platform is about promoting emerging and established Africa-inspired designers.
Ronke Ademiluyi, founder of Africa Fashion Week London

Profile boost

But despite the growing interest in African designs, Ademiluyi says that many of the continent's promising talents still find it difficult to break into the mainstream international shows.

She says that for many of them, the week is a chance to shine on the international stage.

"A lot of them are talented but they're struggling," she says. "They don't have support from anywhere, so what we do is we support them -- it's an affordable platform for the designers to showcase their talents to the world."

Read this: Taking African colors to America's Deep South

South African fashion artist Steve Mandy agrees. He says that events like this help participants boost their profile both internationally and at home.

"You can meet some really important people here and I have already met some great people here that I think I'll do business with," says Durban-based Mandy, known for hand-painting on dresses and t-shirts.

"The other thing is the spin-off in terms of your own image, in terms of our audience back in South Africa -- the fact that you can say that you did African Fashion Week it promotes you and helps your product to gain integrity."

Looking ahead, Ademiluyi says the goal is to hold the event twice a year and also establish a supply platform that would make the designers' creations more accessible to the world.

"For a lot of them, after Africa Fashion Week, that's it," she says. "The clients don't know where to get their brand, so we hope to support the designers a lot more by opening up a distribution outlet."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
No one knows what causes "fairy circles" in Namibia's desert. A new study, however, may have solved the mystery.
updated 6:54 AM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
A picture shows the Rwenzori mountain range on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 8, 2014. At 5,109 metres (16,763 feet), Mount Stanley's jagged peak is the third highest mountain in Africa, topped only by Mount Kenya and Tanzania's iconic Kilimanjaro.
The 'African Alps' are melting, and it may be too late. Now may be your last chance to see the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
The Hadza are one of the oldest people on Earth. Today, they battle for land, and continued survival.
updated 12:23 PM EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
What if The Matrix, and other classic Hollywood movies had been made in Africa? This is what they'd look like.
updated 6:17 AM EST, Wed January 29, 2014
The ruined town of Great Zimbabwe is part of a kingdom that flourished almost 1,000 years ago, and a bridge to the past.
updated 6:20 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Morocco is famous for its historic cities and rugged landscape. But it's becoming known as a surfer's paradise.
updated 6:25 AM EDT, Fri October 18, 2013
Parts of the Star Wars films were shot in the Tunisian desert. The film set is a draw for tourists, but it will soon disappear under a sand dune.
updated 5:27 AM EST, Thu March 6, 2014
A photographer took to an ultra-light aircraft to capture Botswana's savannah from above. The results are amazing.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
Vintage helicopters, ziplines, private flying safaris offer new, spectacular views of wildlife and rugged terrain.
updated 6:16 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Makoko Floating School
A new wave of African architects are creating remarkable buildings in the continent, and beyond.
updated 6:32 AM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Artist Edosa Ogiugo captures the fabric of Nigerian life in bold brushstrokes.
updated 10:15 AM EDT, Fri March 14, 2014
A huge spiral in the Sahara had Google Earth users baffled by what it could be. So what exactly is it?
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Unhappy with Liberia's image on the Internet, a photographer decided to present his own view, using GIFs.
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
IBM asked Africans to photograph the continent's greatest innovations and challenges. The results are breathtaking.
Each week Inside Africa highlights the true diversity of the continent as seen through the mediums of art, music, travel and literature.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT