Fashion is fluent in all languages and it is understood in every culture. Passion for this industry is conveyed on the runway through the craftsmanship, details, and commitment of the fashion designer. These traits are possessed by each designer showcasing in Africa Fashion Week New York (AFWNY) 2012, starting with Francis Hendy.
The show opened with Francis Hendy’s colorful menswear separates and tailored two and three-piece men’s suits. His female models graced the catwalk in rompers, jumpsuits, dresses, and wide leg trousers all made in beautiful floral prints or muted gray plaids. The final look of his collection was a beautiful white floor length gown with an open back and ruffles trailing down the floor length skirt, simply gorgeous. The Francis Hendy show could be summed up as an explosion of color and printed motifs. His use of color in the men’s suits was fantastic. The hue didn’t take away from the masculinity of the look.
Ethiopian fashion brand Mafi by Mahlet Afework, is an example of hard work paying off. At 22, the designer has international acclaim for her exquisite women and menswear. This collection was no different, composed of lightweight sweaters, coral and teal striped shorts, headpieces that screamed cool and colorful sunglass frames. She used asymmetrical hems on her tops as well as blazers, slits in the backs of her tops, and lightweight fabrics for the skirts and scarves. Although the looks were layered, the models seemed cool as could be. All of the looks in her collection were practical with an air of whimsical due to the fabric choices and silhouettes. Mafi’s talent was seen through all the intricate detailing she put into her pieces; the crochet backs of her vests, cascading blouses in hues reminiscent of sand and water. This collection was soothing and chic.
It wouldn’t be Africa Fashion Week NY without the Ankara prints! Fashion brands Kibonen NY, Attolle collection and Hennaflower all delivered traditional prints seamlessly into their designs. Kibonen NY brilliantly used oranges, reds, and magentas, in both of the prints and solid pieces in their collection. Day dresses and separates sprinkled with print would be great to wear to work. One of the male models wore an exquisite suit which was printed head to toe in earthy tones of brown, yellow, orange, and green. The clutches used were phenomenal; big, medium, and small with a chain strap, perfect for every type of woman.
The Attolle Collection incorporated prints in a more formal manner. This design house is known for its luxurious combination of African fabric and fine linens like silk and chiffon. The looks shown were gowns or long dresses with printed panels going across the bodice or bust of the garment. The colors in the printed panels were complimented by the solid colored pieces. It was an elegant collection.
Hennaflower brought a show as unique as its name. The collection showcased prints and plaids as trim on the top and bottom of dresses as well as on the bustier, clutches, and waistbands of the garments. Some models held masquerade masks to their faces, which added color, and spark to the show. The pieces were fun, youthful and could cater to a handful of body types .The brand stayed true to their fun, flirty and ethnic aesthetic in every piece shown.
Bill Witherspoon presented a masculine tribe of models for his collection. The models were buffed up and adorned in chokers with dangling shells and leather tassels. Witherspoon put his personal spin on harem pants and paired them with open silk printed shirts. For the outerwear pieces, he used plaid and fur. Two contrasting materials were used in his pants to give a shinier look on the inner thigh and leg. The highlight of the show was hands down the men’s underwear collection. His collection seemed reminiscent of a warrior tribe, in luxury fabrics.
Geraldo Fashions captured everything feminine. The silhouettes, muted tones of chiffon and pale floral prints reminded every woman in the audience why she was happy to be one. Her models swayed down the runway in floor length skirts and chiffon trousers; each piece with its own unique trait i.e. hound’s-tooth shoulder pads, or detailed necklines. Dress tops were lace infused with flowers making for dainty and delicate looks, a girl’s favorite, especially during warmer seasons.
Fienes Couture added a twist to classic black and white pieces by adding texture into the collection. Sheer embroidered shawls were worn over zebra print dresses, huge bows were placed on the collar of leather capes and fur was added to the bodice of leather tops. The contrast of materials was interesting and made for a fresh take on timeless black and white separates.
The final show of the night was Mesanga Fashion House. Her collection was incredible! The use of Ankara fabrics, and teal complimented each other so well. She was very creative in her silhouettes and played with cutouts on the back of a number of her dresses. Flared one pieces, lace dresses, and exquisite beading done at the neckline of the garments was quite unique.
The talent demonstrated in the first night was breathtaking. These designers have put their time, blood, sweat, and tears into making these amazing fashions. Whats better is the community these designers have created with their collections. AFWNY is in its second year and the talent is only getting more innovative. African Fashion is taking over one stitch, trim, and bodice at a time.