Thursday, November 12, 2009

I still have sand in my shoes...

Coco Chanel famously said: 
"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. "

May I add in the sand?
Arriving at the 2009 Swahili Fashion Week I was amazed to find beautifully dressed women in 8inch heels tottering around in desert like sand. I mean this was definitely not New York Fashion Week. But why should it be, Africa should be proud of being African and not try to be a poor imitation of the Western World.

With the current economic recession fashion has turned inward to find its identity and this was very apparent at the Swahili Fashion Week. The humble Khanga was reborn on the catwalks. 

Originally inspired by Portuguese traders' "lenço" (handkerchief), the khanga is worn in various different ways and used as tablecloths and in wedding ceremonies. 

{images from Swahili Fashion Week}

I was very fortunate to be seated next to the extremely talented Doreen Mashika who has truly taken the humble khanga from the streets and made it into high fashion. Her accessory line of bags and shoes are highly regarded and exported to Europe and South Africa. A girl can but dream as they are quite pricey...but maybe for a treat?

{images from Doreen Mashika}

Another Designer I was very impressed with was Robi Morro of MAPOZI DESIGNS. Her collection combined Khanga, Kitenge and Denim in the latest trends. The amount of raw, undiscovered talent on this continent is staggering, and even without formal training people are making it happen. This is a sign of the pure determination of the Tanzanian people to improve their lives and the lives of others.

DAVID TLALE of South Africa ended off the show. He was awarded Fashion Designer of the Year at the recent Arise Africa Fashion Awards, and then went on to show his collection at the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week in September 2009. 

So, the African continent is getting there, and it all starts at these small local fashion shows where you sit under beautiful trees with the stars peaking through, feel the balmy ocean breeze on your skin and feel the sand in your shoes.

That night Tanzanian fashion was in the sky, in the street and in the way we live.


{Further reading} 

1 comment:

  1. Insightful, colourful, well written.

    You have a future in fashion;-)