Fashion Weeks

Africa Shows Strong Presence at New York Fashion Week, Spring 2008

Naeem Khan
New York Fashion Week Spring 2008 was a refreshing take on the aid vs trade debate observed at the recently completed TED conference. Fall 2007, NY Fashion Week was all about aid to Africa–think Designers for Darfur among many similar shows. This season, however, it is as if America’s fashion industry persons were at the TED conference taking notes as we see a push on and off the runways for sustainable development in Africa. From Ports 1961 to Noir to Oscar De La Renta, Africa’s presence was felt on the runways! Even Project Runway’s contestant Zulema Griffin, from season 2, showed a collection off site from Bryant Park, titled “Slave to the Rhythm, Fela’s Wives.”

ECO-CHIC:Africa was not the only one with a strong presence on the runways. Eco-friendly fashions also had its spotlight, especially with the label Thakoon. Africa, of course, has always been about eco-friendly fashions even before it became fashionable–think natural fibers such as cotton, linen, bamboo, raffia and silk and the many organic dyeing methods used in Africa to transfer color onto fabrics.

As we predicted, the “in” colors are yellows, golds and neutrals such as white, brown and flesh. Voila! Check out Ladybrille designers that we thought kept it very cosmopolitan with a healthy sprinkle of A-F-R-I-K-A! The pictures are the trends we think you will see in your local retail stores pretty soon.

Ports 1961’s designer Tia Cibani was inspired by “East African women of the 20th century” for her Spring 2008 collection. Indeed. Although a non-African, Cibani really illustrated what it means to put Africa on the world’s fashion map. From the gold silk charmeuse dress that graced and moved with such fluidity on Supermodel Alek Wek’s body to the accessories that complemented each designs on the runway, Cibani put the “A” in Africa!

Noir-Scandinavians are notorious for being environmentally conscious and finding ways to practice Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR]—think IKEA and H&M. It is, therefore, no surprise that Danish native Peter Ingwersen, the brain behind the new line on the block “Noir” is doing a whole lot of CSR. What’s refreshingly unique, however, is that the designer put his money where his mouth is. 70% of his Spring 2008 collection was created from certified fabrics purchased mostly from Africa. The certified fabrics include silks, cottons and wools.

Ingwersen has also collaborated with Uganda’s government to help develop a high end organic cotton brand called Illuminati II which will launch next year!

Tracy Reese says she was inspired by Africa for her spring collection. Indeed! Reese chose vibrant colorful fabrics such as purple, red, yellow, sky blue and gold cutting these fabrics into classic dresses, shorts and pants that were clean, sexy, flirty, playful and fresh. One trend she put a twist on with her detailing was the high waist. We love her high waist sailor pants below-a definite hit!
Micheal Kors stayed very American with a sporty yet sophisticated sexy look for spring. We could not help but notice, however, the similar trends with the floppy hats and scarves we observed at South Africa’s Stoned Cherie and Gavin Rajah shows.

Proenza Schouler was impressive with the balance for the Ladybrille woman trying to maintain a mature yet playful disposition.

Derek Lam-From safari jackets to sweet feminine dresses and very sassy yet elegant shorts, Lam kept it crisp, clean and alluring.

Stephen Burrows is known for his great use of color and his periodic breaks from the fashion world. We add a new title to his list and that is one for staging brilliant comebacks!! We loved everything about his collection including this very sweet pink dress. Brilliant!

Naeem Khan is not interested in trying to fit in. Khan has an intimate relationship with Indian fabrics and he embraces this fact making room to accommodate and create modern silhouettes that resonate with Indian and non-Indian women alike—a philosophy most African designers should most likely strive to emulate. His collection was a display of beautiful Indian fabrics with excellent embroideries which he cut and shaped into classic, simple, fresh dresses with great fit and beautiful detailing.

When it comes to fashion, Diane Von Furstenberg [DVF]knows drama–yes, even better than a Nollywood movie! lol! Her Spring 2008 collection began with neutrals but later gave way to what can best be described as an explosion of colors with exquisite design prints on pants, shorts and dresses.

What do women really want? Oscar De La Renta answers this question with his spring collection that showed a wide range of global trends which included short dresses, futuristic and romantic looks and bold prints. The designer’s designer even made a stop in Africa to showcase 80’s body conscious glam looks with great embellishment, prints and details fitting for YOU, the very sexy, sophisticated Ladybrille woman.

Peter Som shows why he is all the rave with this very fresh clean look.

Photocredit: Marcio Madiera

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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  1. My 2 cents says:

    Even thought I was not able to catch the show I won tickets for (Still can't explain what happened, as I really wanted to be there) I followed fashion week religiously and I must say all the designers showcased stepped up their game. Very impressive!!

  2. Zahratique says:

    I love the Tia Cibani – Ports 1961 ones the most.

  3. Omodudu says:

    Thought tracy was really superb. the whole voyage thing was hot.


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