This has certainly been a great year for African fashion. We’ve seen a rise in the number of African fashion weeks held across the globe, African designers have scored collaborations with top brands, are being stocked in major retailers, top magazine’s dedicate whole issues to the continent and have had their brands worn by first ladies. As we head in 2013, let’s recap on the 12 biggest African fashion moments of 2012.
1. Michelle Obama wears Mimi Plange.
Every time America’s first lady steps out in public, her fashion choices are critiqued. She’s paid African designers homage by wearing Nigerian-UK based designer Duro Olowu and ‘made in Kenya brand’ Asos Africa. This May, while making an appearance on the tv show, ‘The View,’ Michelle was spotted wearing a skirt from the S/S 2013 collection by Ghanian born, New York based luxury womenswear line Mimi Plange. In 2011, Plange wowed us with her collaboration with famed shoe brand Manolo Blahnik.
2. David Tlale at New York Fashion Week
The South African couture designer knows how to make headlines. The Cape Town Fashion week staple may best be remembered for using 92 models to walk down the Nelson Mandela Bridge in a show that started two hours late. In 2012, Tlale launched a diffusion line with, and had his own standalone presentation for New York Fashion Week.
3. Arise Magazine Fashion Week hosts 72 designers
In March 2012, two major fashion weeks occurred on the African continent in one week; Arise Magazine Fashion Week and Cape Town Fashion Week. AMFW made the news for starting two days late and for models striking. However, AMFW brought the fashion, featuring a staggering 72 designers from six continents.
4. Mercedes Benz sponsors CFW + Vogue Italia sponsors Ghana Fashion Week
This year, Cape Town Fashion Week and Joburg Fashion Week got new first names: Mercedes – Benz. The company which already sponsors New York Fashion Week added its name to one of South Africa’s biggest fashion events of the year. Ghana Fashion Week, which was held for the first time this year managed to woo Vogue Italia as a major media partner.
5. L’Uomo Vogue’s Africa Issue
This year, we’ve seen magazines like Kaleidoscope, Diplomat, Tribes and more doing Africa themed issues, but none of them were as talked about as L’Umo Vogue’s ‘Rebranding Africa’ Issue. In the latter part of 2011, Franca Sozzani travelled to Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya where she met designers like Jewel By Lisa and interviewed some interesting subjects like the Queen of the Buganda Kingdom. Celebrities like Drogba suited up in designer wear, but what caused the most chatter was the cover choice; The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. His appearance may not have been so random after all, considering Miss Sozzani is a UN goodwill ambassador. A site called yoox.com was also launched which allowed buyers to purchase designers collections handpicked by Miss Sozzani.
6. Ozwald Boateng’s A Man’s Story
Saville Row designer Ozwald Boateng was the star of Arise Magazine Fashion Week’s Lagos and New York editions, but he made bigger headlines at the box office, with the premiere of his feature length documentary ‘A Man’s World’. The documentary, which was filmed over the course of twelve years, provides an insight into the private life of the Ghanaian designer to the stars. It opened in London in March, while New Yorkers had to wait till November 2012. We also loved his Soweto shot Spring/Summer 2013 collection.
7. Duro Olowu for JCPenny
Although not due till March 2013, the news about the UK based designer’s collaboration with JC Penny was released in the last quarter of 2012. For between $10-$50, fans of his prints can own pieces of his new collection at a more wallet friendly price than the usual $1000 price range. New Yorkers received an extra treat earlier in the year when they were able to view an exhibition he curated at the Salon 94 Freemans.
8. The Promise of Africa Luxury Conference
In 2012, it seemed the business of fashion was being discussed everywhere from New York (Columbia’s Africa Fashion Panel, Design Africa), London (Africa Utopia) and more. However, the biggest African focused fashion conference was held in none other than the fashion country of the world: Italy. The IHT luxury conference featured 500 designers from 30+ countries.
9. The First Miss Black France
Given the fact that France has a high percentage of African immigrants, it was surprising that the first ever Miss Black France was held in 2012. The winner was the stunning twenty one year old Senegalese student Mbathio Beye.
10. JBL X L’ Oreal, Adrien Sauvage X Dr Martens, Schier for Opening Ceremony
Collaboration was the name of the game for African designers this year. Jewel By Lisa of Nigeria expanded its branding, by teaming up with one of the biggest cosmetic companies in the world L’Oreal to create a limited edition lipstick. 2012 has been a great year for JBL who added collaboration with Blackberry to its roster by creating JBL blackberry cases. The brand was also featured on site Mode Operandi. Doc Martens got an African-Inspired facelift via Adrien Sauvage. Fans of his kente suits could see them translated onto the iconic shoe brand. Namibian brand Schier collaborated with American store Opening Ceremony for a shoe collection that featured bright
spring colors and would make even the simplest outfit pop.
11. Solange covers Elle Magazine South Africa
When Solange tweeted that she was in South Africa, fans wondered what the fashionista was up to. Solange killed two birds with one stone by gracing the November 2012edition of Elle Magazine’s South Africa version where she rocked a variety of African designers in the issue including Loin Clothes and Ashes. She also made time to shoot a music video called ‘Losing You’, which featured a colorful group of South African Sapuers. The reaction to the video was divided, with some loving it, and some heavy analysis by Africa Is A Country and and ourselves.
12. Oroma Elewa shelves Pop Africana
Former model Oroma Elewa who is regularly featured as a style icon on fashion blogs and Vogue, recently announced that she would no longer be continuing her Pop Africana magazine, which was described as the African- version of Nylon magazine. She continues to blog via oramastherapy.com