The opening day of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa (organised by African Fashion International/AFI) in Johannesburg featured an eclectic mix of styles, ranging from cutting-edge to understated elegance. The first night featured 12 illustrious up-and-coming and established designers drawn from a number of countries around the continent including Rwanda, Congo and South Africa.
In celebrating the African style aesthetic, AFI was established to showcase the best designers from the continent in three annual events held around South Africa, featuring the widest range of designers from the whole continent. AFI also works to connect those designers with retailers around the world – in so doing, creating opportunities for growth and development for the fashion sector in Africa.
Over 30 designers are billed to be showing their latest Spring/Summer 13 and trans-seasonal collections in shows spanning four days from 24th to 28th October, and if the opening night was anything to go by, we’re in for a visual feast.
The event opened with three emerging designers on the AFI Fastrack programme – Kyra-Moon Halfpenny, Kim Gush and Wetive Nkosi. Fastrack is an initiative to develop young designers and nurture their talent, whilst introducing them to workings of the retail sector.
Here are some of the looks that caught our eye.
Kyra-Moon Halfpenny who has said she draws her inspiration from Zulu people, Mother Nature, New York City and Harajuku Girls, combined multiple textures from different eras including denim, wool and crocheted flower embellishments to create an altogether fun, carefree look.
Menswear designer Kim Gush might have had a small collection, but it was certainly big on personality and the predominantly black colour palette featuring leather and knitwear oozed masculinity and reflected the designer’s film and costume design background.
Wetive Nkosi’s collection graced the feminine form. Using a palette of pale yellow and grey with contrasting black, there were exaggerated collars and necklines and flowing fishtail and trumpet gowns.
Tina Lobondi’s latest collection sees her continue her incorporation of African print fabric with chiffon, leather and silk to create elegant, feminine pieces with a French aesthetic.
Jacob Kimmie’s innovative sports luxe range in black and white was sexy (with sheer tops from here to Cape Town), provocative and dramatic.
Mille Collines, the Rwanda-based design label, presented a range of classic pieces in muted earth tones with accents of African print fabric and meticulous detailing using traditional Rwandan embroidery and applique techniques. The overall effect: must-have wearable fashion.
All Images: Courtesy of African Fashion International (AFI)