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Okayafrica's New York Fashion Week Guide

Okayafrica's New York Fashion Week Guide featuring William Okpo, Azede-Jean Pierre, and more.


Mercedes Benz Fashion Week kicks off the global calendar of fashion weeks around the world with New York Fashion Week.  Starting tomorrow (9/4), NYFW takes over Lincoln Center showcasing collections for Spring/Summer 2015. With over 80 shows, presentations and events, the New York collections showcase designers from all across the globe. Here is our New York Fashion guide to this year's designers, events,  shows and trends to look out for.

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Africa Fashion Week New York

Africa Fashion Week | New York 2013; Photographer: Sean Jackman

Joining the NYFW calendar, the fifth annual Africa Fashion Week New York (AFWNY) will be taking place September 4th through September 6th. Founded in 2009 by Adirée, a multidisciplinary communications and branding firm for African and global business leaders, AFWNY will kickstart its week with a "Master Class: Off the Runway" event. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation and Adiat Disu the event is "an opportunity for both emerging and established leaders within Africa's developing fashion industry to exchange thoughts and ideas." Guest speakers include South African designer David Tlale, UNICEF Ambassador and South African couture designer Gavin Rajah and The Apprentice Africa's Eunice OmoleThe following night features a 3-part event combining an evening of shopping, dinning and blogging at Vogt Gallery. The pop-up shop will present works from designers and luxury brands such as Weiz Dhurm Franklyn and Eki Orleans. Concluding AFWNY is a runway show  held Saturday at the Metropolitan Pavilion. A portion of ticket proceeds will be going to the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation.

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Azede-Jean Pierre

From Solange Knowles to her most recent fan, First Lady Michelle Obama, Azede Jean-Pierre made her official NYFW debut last September with a well-received spring 2014 presentation at Milk MADE. The 24-year-old designer, who originates from Haiti and grew up in Atlanta, has been labeled "the next big thing" just two seasons after launching her line. The Azede Jean-Pierre label walks the line between fashion, art, femininity and edge. The brand's dedicated to pushing the boundaries of innovation and functionality since the company’s inception in 2012. Pierre will be honored at a private dinner after Essence Magazine's first-ever Street Style Block Party & Awards in Brooklyn this Sunday.

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William Okpo

The Okpo sisters already teased us with their fall collection earlier last month. Darlene and Lizzy of design label William Okpo shared a sneak peek of their fall 2014 collection. The photo, shared via Instagram, features a model in a denim collared, long sleeve sheath dress, along with the caption “Who doesn’t like a good denim story. #williamokpo Fall 2014.” William Okpo, named after the sisters’ father, aims to “illustrate the unique aesthetic that results from the juxtaposition of the immigrants sense of style against American cultural sensibilities.” Their highly anticipated collection will debut in a runway presentation September 5th. For more from William Okpo, read Okayafrica's interview with Darlene and Lizzy Okpo from NYFW Fall/Winter 14.

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Deola Sagoe/CLAN

CLAN is owned by sisters Teni, Tiwa, and Aba Sagoe, the daughters of Nigerian fashion designer Deola Sagoe. Both lines previewed will be presented September 10th during fashion week. The collection features thigh-high slits, peplums, pant suits, asymmetrical cuts and plunging necklines that will be available all year round in multiple variations upon personal request. For more from the Sagoes, read Okayafrica's interview with Deola Sagoe from NYFW Fall/Winter 14.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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