A celebration of African design vision on the runway, courtesy of Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL), is set to kick off on 7 August. The two-day event is a creative feast, and here are 1o incredible designers that need to be on your radar.
Nigerian designer Aloye Adede’s inspirations are so vast that it’s hard to keep track of them. Her designs are feminine and feminist, Victorian and woman warrior, and her latest campaign images feature fierce, heavy chainmail and high, conservative necks. If the multiple aesthetics present in her fashion appear confusing, Adede’s previous work experience at Alexander McQueen explains it all.
Designed by Grazee Ibironke Ojo, from Nigeria, Grazee Stitches pairs edgy cutouts with abstract, African-inspired prints and shapes. Not shying away from a splash of colour, Ojo designs for confident women and men who believe in the Africa’s intense creative potential, and she has a children’s line too.
Congolese designer Innocente Messy merges rebellious London aesthetic with her homegrown shapes and hues effortlessly. Making her debut this month, Messy’s youth and background give her an ultra-new take on fashion, and she works hard to incorporate sustainable materials in her brand.
Hailing from Angola, Kilumba founder Luciana Peres’ feminine designs have a global appeal. With touches of leather and the more-than-occasional suspender strap, the Kilumba woman is strong, artistic, and fashion-forward.
M&C (MARTIAL & CHRISTINE)
While the designer behind Martial and Christine, Grace Loes, designed doll clothing as a child, using leftover fabric from a local Congolese workshop, she launched her brand in South Africa. Her philosophy is simple: clothing should be beautiful, classy, and fun, but never, ever serious.
MARY MARTIN LONDON
A former Headliner of Mercedes-Benz International Fashion Week in Accra, designer Mary Martin is all about fearless, feminine shapes. Her recent collections rely on tulle and intricate layering, and her ideal woman longs to channel a modern-day ballerina.
Mariam Diop, the Senegalese creative behind Nomade, isn’t afraid to merge Africa with the West in her designs. In fact, her of-the-moment silhouettes wouldn’t look out of place in Williamsburg, the heart of New York hipster culture. Diop’s careful addition of African (and global) innovation, visible in the prints, is spot on.
South African-born Sherene Melinda’s collection of handbags represents the ingenuity of her native country with a distinctly London vibe. Her springbok hair-on-hide purses come in a wide range of sizes, styles, and colours.
SORAYA DA PIEDADE
Known for her elegant and feminine details that bridge the aesthetic divide between Africa and Brazil, Angolan innovator Soraya da Piedade is definitely one to watch this fashion season.
Using gemstones, varied fabrics, and metals, Thora Jewels’ bespoke pieces are one of a kind. The handcrafted jewellery and accessories brand is bold and statement-making.
Find out more information about Africa Fashion Week London here.
Which African designers are on your radar? Tweet us @ELLEmagazineSA or comment below.