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African style descends on the Big Smoke

Following strong A/W 14 outings by Ghanaian labels Casely-Hayford and Adrien Sauvage at London Collections: Men in January, African designers made their mark at the recently concluded London Fashion Week too. PPQ, headed up by South African Amy Molyneaux, took an odyssey into playful PVC and furry booties for their runway show. Sudan’s Omer Asim screened the joyful fashion film Put Out The Lights And Call The Law, which featured Senegalese model Kinee Diouf wearing his minimalist pieces and doing a wild jazz dance. And at the Wolf & Badger showroom, Nigeria’s Funlayo Deri showed menswear-inspired body con silhouettes and fellow countrywoman Zainab Ashadu exhibited her luxury bag line Zashadu. “I was influenced greatly by the entrancing moods of Kelela’s mixtape Cut4Me,” Ashadu says of her Lagos-made collection of pop star-appropriate metallic box clutches and fold pouches.

Africa was also included in the International Fashion Showcase. The British Fashion Council launched this pioneering initiative in 2012 as a way of inviting emerging markets to participate in LFW. Previous editions have featured Nigeria and Sierra Leone but this year Tanzania flew the flag for the continent alone with its Unseen Dimensions installation. “We created a raw environment within which spatial planes and the movement of the body could be explored,” says curator Lizzie Glendinning of the presentation at the Tanzanian High Commission. “We hope it radiates a true Fahari (meaning passion for prestige, splendour and elegance) spirit.”

Khanga kaftans by House of Wellu, bespoke suits by Sheria Ngowi, traditional menswear by Manju Designs and girly jumpsuits by Odd Is Bold hung alongside cocktail dresses and wrap tops by Mija Haute Couture. “I design for peace restoration in the world,” says designer Mija Shija Sayi of her colourful creations featuring mosquito net sleeves and seashell buttons. “My collection is for women who want to go higher.”

Words: Helen Jennings


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