First ladies from around the world, diplomats, tastemakers and fashion insiders gathered on Thursday in New York for Fashion 4 Development’s First-Ladies Annual Luncheon and Fashion show, where Nigeria’s Folorunsho Alakija, founder of the Rose of Sharon Foundation was awarded with the “F4D Angel Award”.
Alakija who is acclaimed to be the richest black woman in the world, received the award in recognition of her role in ensuring Africa uses the power of the fashion industry to influence other aspects of life. Once a renowned fashion designer and editor, she has pushed for more recognition of African designers outside the continent.
“There is a lot that can be gained through fashion by every country in terms of its economy,” Alakija, told The Huffington Post. “Too many countries have been looking to other industries and forgetting that they're losing a lot of money. Fashion is extremely powerful.”
Fashion Development (F4D) was launched In January 2011 with a mission to harness the power of the fashion and beauty industries and implement creative strategies for sustainable economic growth, wellness and independence of communities worldwide and the preservation of culture through the expression of fashion. Its guiding principles are the 4E’s of Education, Empowerment, Enhancement and Enrichment, with a tag line; “Giving Back is the New Luxury.”
Since its inception, the Fashion Development has grown into a private sector global platform that supports the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and “Every Woman, Every Child,” the UN Initiative spearheaded by the Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
The event, which coincided with the Sixty-Eighth Session of the United Nations General Assembly held at the Pierre Hotel in New York City on Thursday, September 26, 2013 and was graced by notable dignitaries including the First Lady of the United Nations, Madame Ban Soon-Taek, who attended as an honorable patron and guest speaker, Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia; and fashion designer Donna Karan, among others. Also in attendance where fellow awardees; Tina Brown (Editor-in-Chief of Newsweek and the Daily Beast) with F4D’s Women’s Champion Award, Livia Firth (Founder of the Green Carpet Challenge) with the Fashion 4 Development Award, Michele Sidibe (Executive Director of UNAIDS) with F4D’s League of Gentlemen Award, and Franca Sozzani (Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief) with the Premiere F4D Medal of Honor for her three years of dedicated service to F4D.
Alakija is a businesswoman involved in the fashion, oil and printing industries. She is the Group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited and the Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited. She was also appointed by the Federal Government of Nigeria to be the Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian National Heritage Council and Endowment for the Arts.
She attended Pitman’s Central College, London for secretarial studies and also studied fashion design at the American College, London and the Central School of Fashion and worked in the corporate world for some years before establishing her tailoring company Supreme Stitches which rose to prominence and fame within a few years, as Rose of Sharon House of Fashion.
Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija has a foundation called the Rose of Sharon foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants.
For more information on Fashion 4 Development, visit their Website
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