An optimistic mood prevailed at New York Fashion Week where designers David Thale, Gavin Rajah, Korto Momolu, Maki Oh, Mataano, Max Azria, Mimi Plange, Ozwald Boateng, Tiffany Amber, Tsemaye Binitie, William Okpo and Duro Olowu showcased collections characterized by African insipirations in bright palette, playful sixties, glamour and clean cuts.
Here’s our style edit with top two pieces of our favourite designers of African decent from the recently concluded fashion weeks around the world.
South African designer David Tlale did so beautifully with his Spring 2013 collection presentation at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week consisting of high headgears, beautiful gowns, and surprisingly menswear in beautiful colours and textiles. Blush satin, oranges, and bright yellows presented themselves in sequined trousers, long printed tunics, and chiffon blouses.
Renowned for his undeniable knack for showmanship and elaborate designs, Thale’s work is both daring and dramatic—a brand that defies convention and a brand that impenitently employs unpredictable use and understanding of fabric, colour and texture.
Gavin Rajah is best known for his seriously luxurious, heavily embellished eveningwear – continued to build on his reputation but also shook it up with street-wear references. Influenced by 1950s New Romanticism and the Victorian language of flowers, his pearl and sequin encrusted, bias-cut gowns in silk and lace were show-stopping thanks to their cherry blossom and cameo motifs, while his rude girl drop-crotch tracksuits were worn with boxer belts. Pinks, golds and creams dominated, making an ocean blue dressing gown-style suit and white pants worn with a batwing top stand out all the more. But most intriguing were the metallic visors with Statue of Liberty spikes and flowers all around them.
Korto Momolu pronunced (Cut Toe Mo Mo Lu) is originally from Liberia. There’s no question that Korto’s work here is refined and simplified in a way that’s very appealing and highly wearable. Those of you who said you’d kill to wear one of her pieces can head on over to her site and start pestering her about where and how you can buy these looks.
Maki Oh chose to further her own journey of discovery through African textiles and female sensuality with a collection to make women feel powerful and men weak at the knees. Her key shapes – pencil skirts, loose tops, blouses, wide trousers and shifts – were realised in adire, hand painted with doll-like faces and eyes; velvet; and sheer textiles in shades of seashell, porcelain, maroon and indigo. But the real thrills were supplied by the ase-oke and raffia fringing, which swung in strategic tassels, creating erogenous zones across the body.
Somali twins Ayaan and IdylMohallim collection was pretty simple with Summercolours in classic pieces and cuts hanging loosely around the body.
The collection showcased a variation of pieces and looks that can mostly be worn casually, however there were a few pieces that were made for the red carpet.
Max Azria is a French fashion designer of Tunisian Jewish descent.Since reviving the label in 2007, designer Max Azria has struck a winning formula with the superlative Herve Leger bandage dress. The svelte silhouette of Azria’s iconic body-con dress has been basking in must-have status for It girls for years now, a favourite among not-so-demure starlets like Ashlee Simpson, Jessica Szhor and LeAnn Rimes, all of whom sat front row this season.
The all-important slender silhouette was also tweaked – continuing on from last season’s flattering A-line shape, spring/summer 2012 saw the introduction of flattering low swing skirts, as well as spacey Y-shaped modish necklines appropriated from the Sixties – an era visited repeatedly on this season’s runways.
Since the Ghana native debuted her first collection a few seasons ago, Mimi Pilange has sold particularly well in the Middle East.
With her Spring/Summer 2013 collection she presented at New York fashion Week, Mimi Plange proved that modestly can be sexy. Entitled “Tea With Mother,” the pale floral collection “is a romantic celebration of ageless beauty.” “I was inspired by antique porcelain art andtea,” says Plange, who worked in the fashion industry for 11 years before starting her own line. To reflect her fondness for sophisticated ladies, the 34-year-old favors longer hemlines, intricate embroidery, exaggerated full sleeves and fluid pieces. Her materials of choice include silk crepe, silk organza, trap unto embroidered silk and lambskin. While they give a ladies who lunch nod to Upper East Side socialites, Plange's designs still feel fresh and modern.
OzwaldBoateng, a Ghanaian/British tailor is known for his classic bespoke suits, Mr. Boateng impressed the audience at Lincoln Centre with his Spring/Summer 2013 Collection. This time around, he added some twist to the Collection which features striking suits and blazers in African prints, Capri pants, boyfriend shorts on suits, collarless shirts with ankara trimmings amongst others. For colours, he went for bold hues of red, yellow, emerald, teal, blue, wheat, plum and black. Models were styled in scarves, bowties, skinny ties, little slates, trilbies, with some having their suit armholes folded.
Tiffany Amber offered a commercial collection, playing to designer FolakeFolarin-Coker's strengths – namely long, floaty resort-wear with decadent 70s overtones. Entitled The Rhythms Of Africa, the collection featured motifs of dancing men and women and traditional drums on hand-printed silks in shades of turquoise, mustard, mint and tangerine. Maxi dresses, jumpsuits, slouchy sapeur suits, rompers and pleated day dresses deliciously accentuated waists and exposed backs. Her finale looks, worn by Arisestalwart models GeorgieBadiel and Millen Magese, were laser-cut to create undulating, Monsters Inc-like fur textures that fluttered as the girls walked.
TsemayeBinitie’s collection cemented his body-conscious, sports-luxe aesthetic. Taking his references from the It girls featured in Claiborne Swanson Frank's book American Beauty, his looks were ready for action of every kind, from marl grey jersey tracksuits with silver embossed branding to leather bomber jackets and denim shorts to a knock-'em-dead, floor-sweeping, blood-red gown, worn by ARISE issue 13 cover girl Dap Tony. His flesh-and-pink toned panelled illusion dresses with organza overlaying, sparkling lamé and laser-cut designs based on stars and stripes were stand out.
William Okpo SistersLizzy and Darlene are very young designers of Nigeria decent. Their Spring 2013 collection is graceful minimalism and functionality consisting of braided cord belts, rolled-up pants and buttoned up overalls were reminiscent of industrial or farm workers with a feminine twist. Hard-wearing cotton and denim cut into wide-leg shorts, stove-pipe pants and asymmetrical skirts brought old-time classic into a post-modernist future. A delightfully on-trend romper with side cut-outs drew much attention from guests and photographers.
William Okpo is known for its strong masculine element. This line stayed true to that, but was definitely offset by more femme aspects such as full, layered skirts.
London based Nigerian designer, DuroOlowu is one of the most sought after designers because of his vibrant signature mix of African prints, seventies tailoring and unlikely colour combos. The designer presented his ‘Ready-to-Wear’ Spring 2013 Collection with a presentation at the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week. The collection was beautiful, elegant and over the top. DuroOlowu avoided creating girlie looks because he aspires to create for a woman that is confident.
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