African Designers At New York Fashion Week 2013

New York Fashion Week featured African designers and African fashion, including David Tlale, Edun, Max Azria, Hervé Léger and Korto Momolu.

New York Fashion Week just finished and as New York never stops, the city is bursting with excitement. Indeed, this season was intense and definitely unique as it always brings the new trends for the next season. Spring/Summer 14 is shaping up well and we can already give you one little snippet (or secret): next Spring will have a lot of bold white! While, of course, there's plenty more fashion trends coming up, we wanted to recap the African designers present at NYFW.

As we reported, South African David Tlale and Tunisian/French Max Azria kicked off on Day 1 with great collections. Following that, Harlem Fashion Row at Lincoln Center showcased four designers with four strong collections — our favorite was definitely Modahnik by Kahindo Mateene. You could tell that everyone moved forward on their chair to look closer and admire that stunning ultra-feminine collection, featuring bold white Western cuts and subtle African prints, inspired by an Saharan dessert. Espion by Deidre Jeffries, inspired by Shanghai, opened the show and brought us a sexy urban-amazon with high pony-tail and dark lipstick. The menswear label of the night, Sandro Romans delivered an interesting collection, showing a lot more skin than we expected. Stating that he was inspired by "Bushwick, Brooklyn," it was hard to picture Brooklyn with some of the "strongly feminine" silhouettes presented — crop tops and pajamas-shorts. Project Runway season 9 finalist Kimberly Goldson also presented a Brooklyn-inspired collection —her models sported big large black baseball caps with her bold initials in white, giving a sexy urban collection.

Next was Hervé Léger — three words came to our mind: structure, shape, and feminine. Léger's signature, which is based on artistry, originality and durability, is unmistakable throughout the collection. One senses his love for geometry and forms, and the audience could enjoy the way the pieces embraced the woman's body. His designs are definitely part of our top Spring/Summer 14 collections.

While Liberia's Korto Momolu will return to Project Runway's all-stars, she presented her new collection Enchanted Fantasy at Helen Mills and dazzled us with nice pieces paired with wonderful gold and silver crowns, beautiful jewelry and feathers.

Senegalese Sophie Zinga's spring collection highlighted an outstanding number of pieces inspired by ornate delicacy and the velvet texture of a rose. It included "Malian tie-dye techniques using dual coloring, carefully applied on delicate French Alencon lace. Including a broad array of textures, enhanced by pleating on crinkled silk chiffon, sateen cotton and silk faille fabrics. Zinga add[ed] a greater depth to the delicate pieces featuring: white guipure lace, recalling the brand's minimalist and romantic point of view." If the First Lady is looking for a new designer, Zinga's new collection might be the perfect fit.

Inspired by the (unfortunate) "uncertainty" of women’s place in society, Maki Oh, for her first solo New York Fashion Week show, delivered an exciting mixed collection. In our opinion, you like or you don't. We do, and appreciate the inspiration but also the creativity and risk she put in these new pieces. A lot was happening with her pieces — there were several different cuts, a print was never the same as the previous one and we loved the theatricality of it all.

Edun's thinking — which is in line with that presented by Hervé Léger — had a great geometric set-up. Those are bold pieces that will always draw attention because of their beauty and strong prints.

Lastly, we would like to acclaim the talent of Parisian designer Maud Villaret, founder and CEO of Toubab Paris, who showcased her beautiful pieces of jewelry in a pop-up shop. Her work are a perfect blend of African prints and other materials. Her major pieces are works of art and  can make a plain dress become a stunning outfit.

This New York Fashion Week was definitely great, as usual. We love how fashion has a great impact on a city and how it gets together all the fashionistas. Spring/Summer 14 will be a good season for fashion. We are transitioning to a beautiful result with a streamlined look.

If you want to talk about it, tweet #pretapoundo

Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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