Fashion weeks are always memorable, but nothing quite compared to the AFI Joburg Fashion Week 2018 that took place this past weekend at Melrose Arch, Gauteng. Platform23 were delighted to attend three days of remarkable African fashion walking the runway. The event exhibited some of the leading fashion designers across the continent and this year’s ranges introduced designs that were inspired by a touch of Asia. African Fashion International (AFI), founded by Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, hosted a world class event with the most delicious and aesthetic catering, flavoursome and floral decorated beverages by Mirari Gin, and phenomenal staff that all pulled of a fashion week that will long be remembered.
Each designer incorporated innovative and unique Asian features to their range, AFI Privé always translated their inspiration from Africa into ready-to-wear styles. Tayla Nguskos and Chesney Williams are the designers for the brand and their last collection was called ‘Under the Africa Sun’, thus they wanted to continue taking inspiration from what our land provides to us and looked at the top 10 exports our country is proud of, then decided that citrus caught their attention. “We use colours and incorporate prints that inspire us from citrus transparence,” said Tayla.
The Xhosa and cultural inspired prints from MaXhosa by Lauduma have caught the eye of many international celebrities and world fashion leading magazine, Vogue. Of course, we were once again blown away by his latest range that left everyone with goosebumps as the models walked the ramp with traditional prints that carried a golden thread from start to finish. The founder Laduma Ngxokolo mentioned to Platform23 in an interview: “I’m humbled by the response to my latest range. I love celebrating my Xhosa heritage and embracing culture, but I also embrace influences from other local cultures and cultures beyond the continent. Through this collection I’m trying to showcase that the brand is for everyone from all cultures.”
The brand started as a knitwear collection and over the last seven years gradually transformed into a lifestyle range. We asked him what sparked his love for fashion, he responded: “My late mother taught me how to knit when I was 14 years old and nine months later she passed away, I consider her the founder of this brand and I will continue on a dream and the fountain of passion.”
He mentioned that he wanted to create more awareness around his brand in the Eastern Cape, his homeland, the origin and heart of his brand. The range we were so lucky to encounter was only a preview of his new range, as he will showcase his entire new collection in Nigeria soon, as well as Ghana and Uganda, not to mention New York Fashion Week 2019.
The menswear collection that knocked the ball out the park was, by no surprise, Presidential. The designer Pietro Giannuzzi, originally from Italy, took the latest range to new heights through attention to fine detail, plenty of gold and prestige, luxurious fabrics and a showstopper dress for the majestic African queen. He mentioned that the brand was born many years ago, inspired by Madiba and that its development always reflected the love for the continent. We asked what fashion lovers can expect from the brand in the following year ahead, he responded: “More glamour. I like detail; everything is more and more beautiful.”
The best we left for last as Marianne Fassler, one of the greatest contributors to fashion in South Africa and world-renowned icon for bespoke innovation, as well as unique composition of colour and print, ruled the runway once again. Her collection best filled the brief for creating a range that let us experience African Fashion with a touch of Asia - #afroasia. Blown away you would have been at the kimonos with patchwork dragons, jumpsuits with the Japanese figurine cat Maneki-neko printed on the fabric, rich and bright, and flowing fabrics and not to mention the shoes - we love the platform sandals.
We also got to see the creations from many other talented designers from South Africa and the rest of Africa. Particularly the swimwear collection by Beach Cult that had inspiration drawn from a recent visit to the Karoo by designer Joanna Hedley - choosing shades of yellow and blue for the primary colour palette. The Botswana collection by Black Trash and Boitumelo Seboko displayed unique designs in print and elegance. Furthermore, we also loved the collections by local designers Rich Factory, Imprint, Matte Nolim and Tanzanian designer, Sheria Ngowi.
This was truly one of those opportunities where you had the chance to dress up, where nothing was unacceptable and it was all about being fashion forward and letting your personality and style shine through.
The success of AFI Joburg Fashion Week 2018 depended on a united team of talented and dedicated departments with hard working people behind the scenes. Everything was without any doubt, flawless. The team of make-up artists from MAC and hair stylists from Wella are to thank for the aesthetic detail they put together for each unique designer’s vision. The action and energy behind the scenes was magical and memorable. This will be the fashion week you do not want to miss next year, as innovation and talent like this rubs off hard.
Writer: Tania de Vos
Photographer: Zene Basson