Drama – and empty seats – at Africa Fashion Week

2010-07-06 12:38

Africa’s premier fashion extravaganza Africa Fashion Week has dished up its fair share of drama, both off and on the ramp.

A blow came from Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week and audience member, who didn’t mince her words, saying the event could have been better organised.

“These are professional issues that need to be addressed, such as better organisation and timing.”

Nonetheless Mallis pointed out that AFW had been a “terrific experience”.

Then there was the debacle of Nkhensani Nkosi of fashion house Stoned Cherrie pulling her line out of AFW, saying she did not want to compete with the 2010 Fifa World Cup match between Ghana and Uruguay.

Victor Rakhale managing director of the organisers, African Fashion International (AFI) said: “She (Nkosi) had her own reasons that we cannot divulge right now. We agreed that it would make sense for her not to participate in the show.”

Poor attendance was also an issue. Most of the afternoon shows in the 800-seater venue in the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg were poorly attended, prompting AFI to move some of the shows to later slots.

Asked about the lower-than-expected turnout, Rakhale said: “Our biggest lesson was not to make any of the shows start so early in the day.”

On the ramp, David Tlale’s midnight show certainly lived up to the hype. The spectacle involved a symphony orchestra and opera singer.

Why was it held at midnight? The theme of the collection was “Midnight Butterfly” – based on the African Empress Butterfly.

Another designer based his entire collection on the characters from the movie The Little Mermaid.

“I wanted to portray water, sand and different elements of the ocean,” said 21-year-old Laquan Smith.

New York-based Smith has been such a hit that he has designed for Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys and others, and rates André Leon Talley, contributing editor of American Vogue magazine, as his mentor.

Among the other labels that showed off their designs were menswear house Fabiani and London-based Bunmi Koko.

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