On August 8th-11th, 2007, Capetown Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2007-08 debuted in a very unique way. The event was, for the first time, produced in conjunction with Cape Town Fashion Council and had the support of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and the City of Cape Town. This is a BIG deal on South Africa’s part if you understand and appreciate the immense challenge, in most African countries, of getting their federal/state/local government to support their Textiles and Trade industry. The producers, Africa Fashion International [AFI], also negotiated a reciprocal relationship with Russia Fashion Week–SA designers can show in Russia and vice versa–see the Julia Dalakian video-one of Russian’s reputable designer who showed in this year’s Capetown Fashion Week.
Some questions I have from viewing the collections and would appreciate your comments or input.
- Lack of African/Black Models on Runway: It feels like I am watching yet another fashion event in New York, LA or Milan. Am I the only one that notices the scarcity of African models on the recently completed Capetown Fashion Week’s Runway? Is this reflective of the industry? I do see some few African faces like those featured on the AngloGold Ashanti event. However, they are the same few faces I have seen in previous South Africa runway events. The Russian designer seems to be one of the few that reflects a balance of African models on her runway. I am informed and do know there are MANY black/African models in South Africa. Where are they on the runways at this event?
- Lack of Use of African Fabrics: I understand African fabrics are not always the colorful print fabrics we see such as Kente, Ankara or Shwe shwe. Nevertheless, it appears there is not much attempt at this fashion event to show African infused fabrics. Is it me or have they just taken African fabrics and made it so modern, the way Nigeria’s Deola Sagoe does, so that you do not know it is your typical African fabric?
- Lack of Use of African Music: Justin Timberlake and other forms of American pop music works well on the runway. However, just like African designers are trying to push themselves on an international scale, so are African musicians. I believe South Africa has probably the best music I have ever heard. How come such South African pop/R&B/hip-hop, among the many genres of music are not integrated/used as runway music for the collections the African Fashion Designers are showing? I would like to know the answers to these questions. Meanwhile check out some videos showing the various designer collections.
~Photocredits: Simon Deiner
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Labelle, I tend to agree with you. I think while it is important to retain the West's modern silhouettes, there has to be some design element that makes a dress/collection uniquely African. From a business standpoint, it is so hard to compete in the very fierce fashion market when you look like just the many gazillion designers out there. From a social standpoint, we increase demand for African fabrics inter-continental and internationally, which to me, means more young African women hired in textile mills or working on handlooms to create fabrics for these designers thereby stimulating growth within Africa's Fashion Industry. @Set, I too am glad there is advancement in producing fashion weeks in Capetown. My hope is that such platforms are used to reclaim and destigmatize the fashion image of Africans [no clothes and hunger/AIDs stricken] via designs that fuse Africa and the West making it appealing to Africans and non-Africans. Thanks ladies for your input!
To comment on the lack of african fabrics at the fashion show; there are actually many rich and vibrant african fabrics in the market today. Example is the Ghanian Akosombo, Java …e.t.c. So if african fabrics were not prominent at the show, its either the lack of knowledge that they actually exist or the infusion with western fabrics was way over-board. But then again, even though there might have been a lot of fabric infusion going on, I believe there should still be room to recognize it as an african fabric…afterall, what was the point of the show?
I am so glad Cape Town is one of the fashion cities in the world. There aren't many.
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