BY ELi CHEP & EVE CHEGE
It is very clear that October/November is forming to be a great fashion season for Africa. After an interesting Autumn/Winter 2015 season at SA Fashion Week, we swiftly shifted focus on to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa (MBFWA), paving the way for established & upcoming designers to taking the pan-African stage.
This week right through the weekend witnesses Johannesburg (South Africa) become Africa’s fashion capital with fashion gala, MBFWA brought by Africa Fashion International (AFI). The most renowned African names landed in South Africa for the annual fashion showcase featuring names such as Taibo Bacar, Kiko Romeo, Sheria Ngowi, David Tlale and Mille Collines who showcase the luxury and precision of their trans-seasonal collections under the theme ‘Our Heritage Re-imagined’. The theme aims to propel African design further, growing its international relevance.
And with the Kenyan fashion and textile industry experiencing rapid growth and transformation lately, the inclusion of Kenyan oriented labels such as Kiko Romeo, Mille Collines and John Kaveke in the runway line-up at AFI Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa is evidence of Kenya’s growing presence on the scene.
The fashion event which started on Wednesday 29th October culminates tonight with a fashion awards gala, the Africa Fashion International Awards. The 4-day event has featured designers from Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and more showcasing their pieces to fashion lovers, media and professionals.
The opening day of the fashion fiesta saw Joburg’s Melrose Arch buzz with excitement in anticipation of the start of what transpired to be a proud moment for African design; featuring an eclectic mix of styles, ranging from cutting-edge to understated elegance. Kenyan-Rwandese label, Mille Collines debut the runway at 2015hrs SA time (7.15pm Kenyan time) with colorful definition of their brand’s distinctive collection.
Mille Collines show brought life to the runway with absolutely amazing pieces from their S/S15 collection. The label infused street and formal wear with strong street elements in their hand-painted slogan sweaters. Following that was an array of simply structured, figure-hugging patchwork pieces with splashes of suede and metallic, finishing off with a line of fluid maxi dresses. This was all brought together with oversized accessories and a cool attitude to match.
The Mille Collines S/S15 collection features simple and relaxed shapes where they are showing the African street neighborhood through a close and detailed view: a walk through the quirky and fun stores which line African streets with our interpretation of street art. As they move into the formal ‘night line’, they zoom out into the neighborhood and place their design attention on the textures of different elements that fill in that creative space. They incorporate cuts that create lines reminding us of the criss-crossing pattern that tin roofs create on the horizon. All of these elements are blended into a collection described to be bold, fresh and alive – we loved their overall dynamic energy!
Speaking to replay254’s blogger, Eve Chege at the event, one of the founder partners and director at Mille Collines, Ines Cuatrecasas said, “Mille Collines designs for the woman who is not afraid of a world that is ever-changing, and who is brave and boldly expresses who she is – Africa lives in her. This is our third year participating in MBFW Africa and it’s quite a humbling experience having showcased the new collection in one of the biggest fashion platforms on the continent with the event positioning designer brands both locally and internationally. It’s been one of the most exciting moments of the year because it’s so special to get to share your work with other great talents on the continent. Secondly, it’s special because we feel at home working with the entire team at AFI. From producers, to make up, to models, crew, music and show producers. There is so much human talent here.”
Then Africa Trade Expo, said to be the largest in the continent, runs concurrently with fashion week. This year, the expo’s four zones have Brands for established designers; Designer Showcase, for emerging designers; Accessories which includes bags and jewellery; and Lifestyle, where home ware and beauty products will be laid-out for visitors and buyers to experience. Tsotetsi KL, SCALO, Jenevieve Lyons and Prue are some of the brands available at the expo.
Over 30 of Africa’s foremost established and emerging designers have converged at Melrose Arch, Johannesburg to present their latest collections & define their sartorial talent in the continent’s premier trans-seasonal fashion showcase, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2014, in 16 shows that have been taking place for the fourth day today.
Keep it locked on replay254 for more on the event.
Follow @mille_collines #MBFWAFRICA on Twitter for updates.
Visit Mille Collines here for more information: http://www.millecollines.es
All Images: Courtesy of Eve Chege for African Fashion International (AFI)