On 21 July London’s Southbank Centre was the venue of ‘Africa on the Catwalk’, part of the Africa Utopia festival being held during the month of July and a visual treat for the packed Royal Festival Hall Ballroom audience. We think the idea to host events of this scope and depth that celebrate diverse international cultures in a cosmopolitan city like London is brilliant, and should be a regular feature on the Southbank.
Organised by Ola Shobowale, Creative Director of Infinite Beauty Factory, with styling by Arise Magazine’s Sabrina Henry, the fashion show featured collections from a number of upcoming and more seasoned labels representing the best of African fashion in the UK.
The show opened with an edgy collection from recent Central St. Martin’s graduate, Kezia Fredrick. The London-based fashion and textile designer specializing in silk screening and digital print accessorised her range with bright Nike sports footwear which, wittingly or not, tipped a hat to the impending Olympics.
The collection’s palette was uncompromisingly bold and included bright block colours, contrasting batik prints, and checks, and achieved an altogether young urban feel.
From Bestow Elan, Ezrumah Ackerson’s more established label, came a comprehensive collection of sexy, sophisticated pieces that paid homage to feminine necklines and flowing skirts, with signature features that have come to distinguish the Bestow Elan look from others, such as the toga skirts and frilled bibs. This collection was one of our favourites of the show. Piece after piece spoke of elegance, and yet managed to stay grounded and totally wearable.
Chichia London, the Tanzanian-influenced label of Christine Mhando, confidently went for bold and contrasting colour combinations in the East African fabric khanga – to fantastic effect – cleverly accessorised with African print oilcloth bags from the self-styled ‘afro-pop’ fashion accessories label Ugos Boutique. Ugos’ presented a fun and colourful Summer collection that we’re dying to get our hands on.
If there’s one word that sprang to mind when Eki Orleans’ collection was showcased, it’s ‘Regal’. The philosophy of the label is about fusing vibrant prints with the delicate texture of silk, and drawing inspiration from traditional West African patterns. The result? Beautiful dreamy garments that are fit for the red carpet (stylists, take note!). With accents in in oranges and blues, the collection exuded an air of effortless high class and, well royalty.