the lovely naoko jackson brought me along with her to the arise: promise of africa collective. this was one of the shows during the s/s 2010 mercedes-benz fashion week that i was really interested in watching, because i’d been so fascinated with african textiles. it all began about a year ago when i was researching prints, and came across the most beautiful woven trims made by african artisans.
and so the love affair began!
for the first time in my life, i’d actually asked/begged for an invite to the show. i am usually such a mouse and not at all able to ask for things, but i’d really wanted to see this show so i somehow mustered up the courage to email the pr rep to ask for a ticket, standing, seating, crawling, anything would do.
unfortunately the reality was that i am quite a nobody, and they replied to say that the show was full.
i lamented on twitter, and nao-chan invited me to join her team. i will be eternally grateful!
we arrived at the tents at about 7:30pm and stood in line and tried to glare at the people who were pushing at us. we also got interviewed by nvmagazine.com and i’m quite sure i stuttered as usual. i’m hoping against hope that if they put that clip online, that the editors would be kind enough to edit my s-s-s-stutters out.
it was a rainforest-y feel when we got into the promenade. everyone was green because of the lights, and i loved that they played these jungle sounds. it was packed and there were women wearing traditional african clothing which i loved. one lady had the biggest hat ever and she made it werk!
for those who don’t know, arise is a style, fashion and cultural magazine that celebrates african achievements in all fields. the 4 designers who showed at the mercedes-benz fashion week, were the chosen winners of the arise fashion awards, where over 50 designers from 20 countries took part.
within minutes of the show starting, i was rudely aware of how awful my camera was. either that or i have no idea how to use it. i need a fancy-pancy dslr.
so i switched to taking videos instead!! i took short clips of my favourite looks from each designer.
the first was jewel by lisa. lisa folawiyo’s collection was a mix of quality ankara, with linens, lace, silk, taffeta and chiffon, and all her garments are apparently hand-embellished with beads, sequins and swarovski crystals.
unfortunately i’d loved four other looks by lisa that i failed to capture on my camera (refer to #fail pictures above), but you can get a gist of her designs from the video.
as a designer myself who is obsessed with colour and print, i wanted to hug lisa! her collection was simple and quite casual, but it was in bright, warm colours and adorned with sparkling jewels. she used large bold prints in contrasting and complementary colours, mostly primary with blues, reds and yellows, topped with some lovely shots of warm orange. i could not get enough of those prints!!
she had a couple of slim pants; one of the pant looks was covered in swarovskis or something else that shone in the light, and i loved how it looked walking down the runway. the other pant look was a slim jumpsuit; very clean, and because of the print, rather bold. i loved it.
otherwise, her collection was mostly shorter or knee-length girly dresses, with flirty gathered skirts that swirled as the models walked down the runway. other than the jumpsuit, most women of any shape would probably look amazing in any of her dresses. i’m quite sure i’d love to own one!
the designer in a jacket of her own print. hot.
next was tiffany amber, whose designer, folake folarin-coker, is co-honouree for best designer 2009 at the arise fashion award. this is the second time she is taking part in the arise africa collective.
it was a rather mature collection, with beautiful and light silks that floated and billowed in the wind as the models walked. there were some jewel and metallic tones, but it was mostly magenta, a sort of canary and also mustard yellow and a light blue colour palette. what i loved most about her collection was how the dresses seemed to glide so effortlessly across the runway, and how they caught the air.
the last look was the above blue dress, that looked like it was sea foam and waves. but my favourite dress, i couldn’t find pictures for and you’d have to look for it in the video (it is the first dress in my video). it was a bright yellow colour, and cut with extremely wide and square sleeves that almost looked like a cape, and filled itself with air like a hot-air balloon. the main bodice had a sort of blue print and was topped off with beading of some sort, but it wasn’t randomly placed; the position of the print on the dress was very calculated and it trickled very well down the model’s body. gorgeous!
the third collection we saw was by eric raisina, who was born in madagascar. anyone who has the word “raisin” in their name and is from madagascar is a friend of mine. (ps: eric needs to have a website asap.) eric has a masters in textile and fashion design at the institut francais de la mode in paris, and ahem, he’s worked with kenzo, jean paul gaultier, thierry mugler, yves saint laurent, christian lacroix and christian dior.
ek-ki-su-ki-yooooz me? that’s like my freaking dream resume! dammit! but don’t let those big names fool you. eric holds his own.
as a designer myself, i can truely appreciately eric’s collection. it was very fiery and sexy, and maybe not something that i can pull off or have the guts (or the body) to wear, but i know the amount of work that had to go into making each dress of his. he uses some really pretty silks and other fabrics and works his own wonders in them, creating amazing texture through pleating, gathers, ruffles and other appliques.
you know, it’s so easy to just slap on a print. but when a designer actually thinks not only about the shape of his garments, and how it looks from all angles, and is also concerned enough to design his own textiles, i am in awe and full of respect.
my favourite was probably the last dress in the pictures, but i preferred it from the back. it was a one-sleeve dress, with a sleeve that extended from the left waist toward the right shoulder. in a simple black double-silk jersey, it would have been so chic. but in this eye-popping orange and pink mix, it blew my brains. i think my only criticism was that the styling of his models looks were rather inconsistent, and i would have personally preferred some form of consistency. some models had contrasting shoes; some didn’t. some had bouncy waves, some had hair all over their faces, and some had hair that was slicked back. hmmm.
the designer to close the arise show, was david tlale. he was the winner of the arise fashion award for best designer in 2009. he’s also won the elle new talent award and the sunday times designer of the year award in 2003.
david is a talented designer, and i think what i loved most about his designs was how he concentrated on featuring a woman’s neck. to me, i felt my eyes being drawn constantly to her neck, which is probably one of the most beautiful parts of a woman’s body. (that is, if you aren’t overweight and don’t have leather skin like a certain rachel z*e. oops, did i just say that?) he also played it up with strong shoulders, but instead of how many designers have done it by just inserting huge shoulder pads and squaring the shoulders off, he built the shoulders up with fabric treatments, pleating, braiding and twisting the fabric around the shoulders to give it height or just to highlight it.
there were many incredibly wearable pieces that would fit right into my wardrobe, with a lot of separates that i would love to wear, day or night. i especially loved the look with a black vest and a sort-of twisted tube around the arm-holes, with ruffles around the neck in the high-collar. it was suuuuper!!
the downside, however, was that i felt his collection, wasn’t really a collection. it was a gathering of his amazing designs, but it did not feel like it had one consistent point of view. the show kicked off with this look:
i’m not sure what that is. i’m not quite a fan, especially with the ruffles at the sleeves. it had some interesting details which could have been expanded on, but this was one solo look that had no partner. it could have been an extremely modern and a little avant-garde collection but it really needed another look in his collection to go with it.
then david went into a lot of dressy and smart casual separates which were probably my favourite from him. then bang! this dress came out on the runway.
i felt like it was not only badly made (do i sound like a bitchy nina garcia on project runway?), but it was just wrong. the model had extremely obvious problems walking in it. the skirt was too tight for her and it would have been ok had the mermaid seam been above her knee instead of just below it. but it restricted her movements tremendously and everyone could see it happening. ouch. to add to that, it was extremely heavy with massive amounts of tulle in the front, and hardly any in the back. so the model had to not only take small steps, but she had to kick the crinoline with each step she took. everyone around me made a comment on it. it was a little painful to witness.
but everyone forgot about it the moment tyson walked out. the first time i saw tyson’s picture was when he was the face of the polo sport perfume many many years ago. i was probably like, 10? and i thought he was cute. hohoho. and let me tell you, the crowd cheered and clapped when tao and chanel iman walked. but when tyson came strutting out, man, the hoots and whistles were just on a different scale. this is what supermodels are made off.
and there you have it, the fabulous four designers for arise: promise of africa collective! i was honestly hoping to see more prints, but the designers did not disappoint with their use of colour and embellishments. it was great and i really enjoyed this show!
disclaimer: all nice and non-blurry photos are courtesy of the lovely folks at image.net.
extra! extra! read all about it!
mercedes-benz fashion week s/s 2010
- mercedes-benz fashion week s/s 2010: arise: promise of africa collective
- mercedes-benz fashion week s/s 2010: miguel antoinne
- mercedes-benz fashion week s/s 2010: today’s get-up 11sep09
- mercedes-benz fashion week s/s 2010: rollercoaster weekend
- independent fashion bloggers dress-up soirée
- mercedes-benz fashion week s/s 2010: looking back