Fashion • March 2014
Africa’s fashion scene is thriving. Home-grown talents and trends are creating a stir with internationally renowned designers, style icons and the online fash pack. Helen Jennings, author of New Fashion Africa, reports on the people and places that are turning the continent into fashion’s next frontier
Amaka Osakwe is one of Africa’s most hotly tipped designers. The Lagos-based talent launched Maki Oh in 2010 and has since shown at New York Fashion Week, gained worldwide stockists and been worn by Michelle Obama. The magic? Her sensual silhouettes celebrate female beauty and strength while reimagining traditional Nigerian textiles and rituals.
Meaning “well-dressed person” in Swahili, Kisua is a new online store and magazine based in Johannesburg. Headed up by creative director Danica Lepen (formerly of South African brand Black Coffee), Kisua collaborates with designers across Africa to create exclusive capsule collections that exude effortless, pared-back elegance.
Entrepreneur Hanneli Rupert opened Merchants On Long, Cape Town’s first ever concept store, in 2010. Its Art Nouveau terracotta facade, high ceilings and exposed brick walls house a lovingly curated selection of made-in-Africa products. Brands include Bantu swimwear, Sawa trainers, and Rupert’s own Okapi handbags. Over the road is Merchants Shebeen, a stylish cocktail bar serving drinks like Flaming Kalahari and Sowetan Old Fashioned.
Louis Philippe de Gagoue was born in Côte d’Ivoire, studied law in Tunisia and now works as a stylist and personal shopper in Casablanca. But when it comes to fashion, he’s in a world of his own. His blog has a cult following, thanks to the fantastical outfits Gagoue is photographed wearing in each post. He mixes up souk finds with vintage and designer items, and takes as much inspiration from ancient civilisations as he does from pop culture.
Ann McCreath of Afrocentric label KikoRomeo founded Festival for African Fashion And Arts (FAFA) in 2008 as a means of promoting peace in Kenya. Since then it has grown into the country’s premier fashion organisation, incorporating workshops, road shows, pop-ups and catwalk galas. This year’s main event in Nairobi on 29 March will feature local designers such as Kooroo, John Kaveke and Katungulu Mwendwa.
La Sape is a league of Congolese dandies called Sapeurs, who dedicate their lives to high fashion. The movement originated in the 1920s, and today Sapeurs are famous for their bourgeois attire. They’ve been the subject of a book, inspired a Paul Smith collection, and starred in a Solange Knowles video – and they are now the focus of a recent Guinness ad.
Tanya Mushayi aka Tanya Nefertari aka Nikko Frikko is a sassy surface designer from Harare, Zimbabwe. She was selected to join the cast of the Diesel+EDUN Studio Africa campaign last year, thanks to her ballsy blog and bright-print womenswear, worn by Zimbabwe’s fashion pack.
BA now operates A380 flights to Johannesburg three times a week, increasing to six times a week from 10 April
This article has been tagged Fashion + Style, Destination