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    Boutique Fashion News — SOUTHBANK

    Africa Utopia’s Back – And We’re There!

    Art and ideas from Africa that are changing the world  AFRICA UTOPIA Thursday 10 September to Sunday 13 September, 2015 One of our favourite events of the year, Africa Utopia is back for a third year at the Southbank Centre, celebrating the arts and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-changing continents.  The festival looks at how Africa can lead the way in thinking about culture, community, business and technology and includes topics ranging from fashion, gender and power to politics, sustainability and activism. This year’s festival features some of Africa’s greatest artists across music, dance, literature and the arts. Highlights include: legendary drummer Tony Allen, one of the acknowledged co-founders of Afrobeat, performing with special guests; Senegalese supergroup Orchestra Baobab; powerfully soulful West African singer Kassé Mady Diabaté; the ground-breaking launch of Europe’s first Black and Minority Ethnic..

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    Event: Sapelle at Africa Utopia, 12-14 September 2014

    When the first Africa Utopia Festival took place at the Southbank Centre in 2012, Sapelle was but a nursing infant, have just started trading the month before and not quite ready to face the outside world. But I was thrilled nevertheless to attend that event as a ‘punter’, enjoying and being inspired by the huge variety of relevant panel talks, watching the stunning and vibrant catwalk featuring Chichia London and Bestow Elan among other ground-breaking African inspired fashion brands, and just soaking in the general positive, hopeful and yet realistic spirit about Africa and the ideal of utopia from people who were putting their money where their mouths were and doing something about effecting change on the continent. Two short years later, Africa Utopia is back at the Southbank, and we’re there again – but as part of the festival..

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    Africa on the Catwalk: A Rare Treat in London

    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.

    Kezia Frederick

    Kezia Frederick

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The collection’s palette was uncompromisingly bold and included bright block colours, contrasting batik prints, and checks, and achieved an altogether young urban feel.

    Chichia London

    Kezia Frederick

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    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.

    Bestow Elan

    Bestow Elan

    Bestow Elan

    Bestow Elan

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    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.

    Chichia London

    A glimpse of an Ugos Boutique oilcloth bag

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    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.

    Eki Orleans

    Eki Orleans