The Clothes Show, where the line up of brands, boutiques, celebrities and inspirational stage features are more glittering than ever before.
The Costume Institute Gala held at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the biggest nights in the fashion calendar.
Fashion is a love which never fails to leave me and it proved to remain high up in my life agenda again after I attended 'Renaissance'. And, if it wasn't good enough to be entertained by a number of emerging designers and their wonderful garments, it was even more a treat to hear a diverse range of fresh musicians perform new music.
Nottingham had more talent than an evening's worth of "Britain's got talent" auditions that night and I was so happy that I had to write you a blow by blow account of the whole night! So here comes the typing and the photos all over again. Retold, in these beautiful photographs taken by Mikey San.
First and foremost opening the show was the lovely and local Josh Kemp. Josh played us to two acoustic numbers, one "a love song in his own modest words" apparently, which I enjoyed as he sung it beautifully to me!
Josh is definitely one to watch and has been touring constantly, playing no less than two hundred and fifty venues last year so we heard. His soulful voice, lifting melodies, bone structure and that determination will serve him well and I do hope to hear more from him in the near future although I'm not sure he knows my phone number yet!
The fashion parade then commenced in a spectacular of colour and celebration thanks to talented new-comer Callecia J brown. Very much a fan of the Edwardian era, the forties, fifties and all fabrics wonderful and bright, Callecia combined all these influences to make, in my opinion a modern remake of 'My fair lady' and the result was stunning. I loved this collection with its ruffles, tailoring and bright African inspired geometric prints and so would the Edwardians if they'd have been so lucky to have worn her designs!
Continuing with the Edwardian theme, young designer Joey Storer made me very proud when I watched his elegant Edwardian inspired feminine clothes glide down the catwalk alongside recent creations made this year during his first year at Nottingham Trent University studying knitwear and design. I was drawn to Joey's bold use of colour, print and contoured design when I first saw his collection at West Nottinghamshire College fashion show last year. To see his progression into knitwear since was a real treat. Bold block colour and a real flair for shape and styling were evident for all to see on his first ever public catwalk and I predict that we will be seeing a lot more from Joey in the near future!
Giving the models a rest and arresting our ears with his fine blend of soulful lyrics, rhyme and his memorable 'let's get funky' dancehall style track then was the unforgettable P.Nology. Admitting soon into his act that he was the one who chatted up Kelly Rowland live on the 'X –factor' last year, we all found it hard to see why he didn't win over her heart fully with his cheeky humour and charisma. Recently touring with Dappy and with a European tour to many clubbing destinations ahead of him, I think we will be seeing a lot more of this man and I certainly couldn't get that tune out of my head that night or, the next day for that matter.
Returning to fashion from yesteryear, emerging designer Helena Ocansey then took us on an alternative history trip to the French revolution through the eyes of Marianne Antoinette. In Helena's words, her clothes portrayed "a celebration of life during the French revolution". Instead of portraying Marianne's fear of persecution when her popularity fell with the French public, bright prints designed by Helena adorning beautifully boned and corseted garments sang out a celebration of life in colour! Indeed, a very talented designer, re-writing history right before our eyes.
Taking inspiration from London night life and tailoring beautifully fitting clothing, newcomer, Dean Dufurn exhibited his 'Butterfly' entitled collection. Celebrating feminine curves and contours, Dean exhibited a wonderful collection of tailored with clever ruffled embellishment and detailing.
As if things couldn't get any better for me, I then got to see the acclaimed Zeeno Dee Designs, Winner of Fashions Finest Top designer of 2013. Showcasing, clever detailing such as pleats, geometric patterns and futuristic contours, Zeeno took my breath away with her attention to detail. I particularly liked the geometric fashioned, Grecian –come- modernistic galactic number. So trident and beautiful like model Lily Hannah Appleton-Goldstraw wearing it. And then there was the white dress. Oh how I wish I had that dress in my wardrobe and the Grecian escape to warrant its wear or maybe a red carpet award ceremony.
Finally, one lady who looked and sounded every inch red carpet worth was Ava Rose. A regular backstage volunteer at Fashions finest and clearly a very talented singer undiscovered until now, Ava took our breath away with her soulful tones, raw with emotion and experience of a performer twice her age. A real beauty, singing in a unique style which could stand equally against the likes of Nina Simone.
And if that wasn't good enough, I also won a prize on the raffle!! A NYX make up goody bag which I will eagerly await its delivery from Victoria Davies, makeup artist to the models in the show, our own blogger at Fashions finest and my face saviour!
Prizes a-side, the show did have a serious intent and the raffle was undertaken to raise money for YCR Young citizens of Rwanda, a charity set up Jemrose Walker from Nottingham to help the child and teen survivors of the genocide which happened twenty years ago. Orphaned and Left with no parents, finances, education or prospects, these young people had nothing until Jemrose left her life in Nottinghamshire and moved to Rwanda. There she rented a 'safe house' to accommodate young people and continues to raise money to provide education, guidance, food and housing for this group of vulnerable young people. Speaking to her sister Shearon that evening, I was truly moved to hear of her sister's determination to help the young people succeed in life and achieve things we all take for granted such as having an education and being able to eat every day. I couldn't think of a more worthy cause to donate money.
All in all, a highly entertaining evening for a worthy cause. Definitely worth leaving the sofa for, and the best way to see spring in.
Photos by Mikey San. Mikey San/twitter@whoismikey
See the full gallery of photos here
The comments he left underneath the picture were as follows (I have left the comments unedited);
"i thought this was african fashion week so where are the africans... take a leaf out of burberry, calvin klein etc So why dont we see more and its only the token one we see yet on ours we give even a bigger proportion. Im well in tuned with the fashion industry and had friends turned down for syupid reasons. Why call it African week then. Hello well if 95% of your models are African then lets see more of them as those u keep on publishing do tally with your response. I am not being misled by the colour of the skin and fully aware there are whites not only in South Africa but also in the eastern part of Africa. I am not alone who noticed this but friends of mine also but have decided to reserve their comments. In future think about what the African event stands for as if it was European or other parts of the globe this would of been considered and equality would not come into play. Its just an advice not a criticism pls note"
I love it when he says its just advice and not criticism - according to the English Oxford Dictionary Criticism is deifned as "the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes" ok I know I am Nigerian and my English is not very good, but to me it sounds like his comments fall under the definition of criticism but who the hell is he to give us advice; when he is spending the money AFWL spent on the show, or he becomes a sponsor or is one of the 100's of people that worked on the show or better still he actually attended the show, then I would very much welcome his advice but at the moment I take it as criticism.
My View on the above:
Yes I am so going to rant, infact I have already started, as it riles me up big time that after all the effort that was put into AFWL and the money spent, the only thing this man could pick up upon was the fact that in his view we had too many non-African models or AFWL was purposely only putting up pictures of the nonblack models on the website and Facebook page.
Before I go on let me break it down for all of you with some hard core facts about the models used.
We had 38 models in total
- 3 white models
- 2 Brazilian (I guest under his definition they are white as well)
- 1 male Asian model
- The rest of the models were either black African/Caribbean or models of dual heritage whom under normal standards are considered as black
I am sooooooooooo confused, so he is saying that we must be like the rest of the world and discriminate against a good model because of the colour of her skin. AFWL is about being inclusive and we welcome models, designers and visitors of any colour or nationality and no matter what people say we would continue to promote all types of models and designers. It just amazes me that people can be so short sighted. I believe that if you have nothing good or positive to say then just SHUT YOUR MOUTH, it's not by force that you must say something especially if it is rubbish.
If he thinks that we did not do a good job then he should go spend £100k and do his own show. He stated that his friends felt the same way, well to that one I say birds of a feather flock together. I think his comments are disrespectful to all of the models not just the non-black models and gives the impression that we don't value our black models.
I have been working in this industry for over 35 years and I have fought hard to the detriment of my business and financial benefit (and I also think that is why I have not yet received my MBE), to make sure that black models, designers and black businesses are given a fair chance to succeed and to have someone say that we are favouring white people over our own, seriously pisses me off (I guess you can tell from my blog).
However I may be wrong and maybe when I was selecting the models I did have far more non black models than models of colour and if that is the case I am man enough to take the criticism, so please feel free to leave your comments on the AFWL page with your honest thoughts (this is the link).
I am particularly keen to hear from the models, designers and those that actually attended the show and once I see the feedback – good or bad I will do a part two to this saga.
For now I need to take a cold shower to calm down and for my readers that really let their thoughts go wild please note that is the only reason I am taking a cold shower.
I know a lot of you don't like to read nowadays, so I will attempt to keep it short and do it in chapters for you, so that you can take your time and read chapter at a time.
I was recently informed by someone that the publicity for Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) was not very good as lots of people had not heard about it, so just in case you are one of them I thought it best to let you know what AFWL is. However if you are of African descent, love fashion and live in the UK and have not heard of AFWL – you need to get out more and get some friends.
I have no intention of writing something from my head about what AFWL is about, so being honest I just went to the website and copied what AFWL is about – "Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) is the biggest African event of its kind in Africa. A collaborative fashion exhibition, highlighting the industry's established and emerging African designers, AFWL is at the forefront of capturing the surge of the African inspired trends in the fashion industry. Our annual event aims to celebrate the work of African and African inspired designers in the UK and worldwide". In short, it is a fashion week and exhibition that showcases African or African inspired designers/exhibitors – the last bit was written by me – not a bad summation, even if I say so myself.
Now let's get to the juicy bits.
Chapter One - Fittings
I arrived in the UK about a week before the show, "hold on wait a minute" (not sure if you know that phrase in a famous song – you need to say it like that if you know the song – I am not telling you what it is, go figure it out), I am sure you do not think that I just started work on the show a week before the event, trust me I have been working on the event for the past 9 months.
Normally I would be in town much earlier but there is just so much going on in Nigeria that I could not leave any earlier, so I get straight into town and start the fittings. We had two very intensive days of fittings. Let me break it down for you 40 plus models, 20 plus styling team, and over 65 designers to fit in two days that is a lot of work. Now I am not really talking about the actual fittings I am talking about it is a lot of work to deal with sooooooo many women. Thank you Lord for patience, by his grace I got through it - JUST!
Before I go on, to all the men that are reading this and are envious of me that I am around all these women and you have the wrong kind of thoughts going through your one track mind – behave - but more importantly you need to bear two things in mind –
One, for me it's like being a doctor – no big deal (stop calling me a liar) and two, most of you men as bad as you think you are, you know you can't handle two women at the same time, so imagine me having to deal with over 100 different women and every single one of them thinks she is something special (before I get into any trouble, ladies you were all very special – hopefully by saying this I have escaped with my life).
We had a few drama's but we got it done. Before I go onto chapter two I must talk about my fantastic Nigerian designers, i am referring to those that came from Nigeria not Nigerian designers that live in the UK. We are in season 3 of AFWL, so I now know the score, so when I was scheduling the fittings I moved most of the Nigerian designers that were coming from Nigeria all to the same day and I warned the team of what to expect and they did not disappoint me.
Despite them being sent the model board and them picking their models in advance, they arrived on the day and completely changed all of their models, I should ask for money back for my ink and all the wasted paper from printing off their model lists. it does not stop there, I had some designer that were given a fitting slot for Tuesday afternoon and they arrived on Wednesday evening – I am not joking I had a few like that. I had one designer who called me at 10am and said she would be there in the hour and she arrived at 7.30pm – for those of you that know me well – you already know what happened, before I even say it. I said sorry I can't do your fitting you need to come back the following morning at 8am and if you are late I won't fit you and you won't do the show.
Thats right, yes she was on time the next morning. Some of the designers were extremely rude, but I do understand why they were so and that cos they were trained by Alexander McQueen and are making millions of pounds every month. I say no more. As expected the second day of fittings was extremely more stressful. as i say this i must also be fair and say not all the designers took 2 hours to fit when they were only alloted 30 minutes and a number of them were on time, extremely professional and very well prepared.
It would not be fair to only say the designers were divas, as some of the models were no better and I had to ask a few to leave and the number one reason is this - you are booked to do a job and you take it voluntarily, no one held a gun to your head and then you arrive at the fitting and tell me that you want to leave by 3pm (we were to finish by 6pm), so that you can go to another casting – it's a bit like you being at work and telling your boss that instead of leaving work at 6pm you want to leave at 3pm so that you can start your other job early but you still expect your boss to pay you for the 3 hours that you are working somewhere else – I don't think so. The good thing is after sending a couple of models home we were left with the best and the two days of fittings went smoothly.
Chapter Two – Backstage
On the Thursday the day started very early for everyone as we had to be at the Old Truman Brewery (the venue) by 8.30am. The day started with some fittings for the designers that missed their fitting slot earlier in the week, then onto hair and makeup. As for me I was putting the final touches to the set design, sound and lighting working with the technical team and making sure everything was on point. I also did a walk through with the models and ensured they knew their routines and would walk like top models, we also did some filming for Arise TV which went out live. Hair was done by Mizani (L'Oreal – I know some of you would know that name better) and makeup was by Fashion Fair which was led by my main man Mr Gorgeous. So I had a great team behind me.
Throughout the entire 3 days of shows we had numerous film crews doing interviews and it seemed like 100's of photographers were always backstage taking pictures. Backstage this year was great as we had plenty of space so it was far easier to work and Malaika Mwaniki our head stylist was super well organised and ran it like a military camp.
Chapter Three – The Show
Our first show was at 4pm on the Thursday and the last show was at 8.30pm on the Saturday, throughout the 3 days we had 10 different shows and showcased over 60 plus designers. The range of designers was vast and the catwalk was an array of colours and styles ranged from street, to swimwear, to couture and was a mixture of student, new, aspiring and established designers. the youngest designer being 14 year old Tumisola Ladega, designers came from across the world including Switzerland, Zambia, Ghana, USA, Nigeria, the UK and South Africa. South Africa sent over a fantastic delegation of 9 of their best designers and in addition AFWL was privileged to have the phenomenal Thula Sindi showcase and it was nice working with one of Nigeria's hottest designers Zizi Cardow. I try not to mention designers individually but I loved working with Didi Creations, Moofa and Steve Mandy Designs who actually created a hand painted dress live on the catwalk whilst his collection was being showcased.
However in terms of producing a show, for me the one that I had most fun with and the designer that took it to another level in terms of the production of her designs, the thought behind her original music and me putting the finishing touches to her show was Elegante by tiannahstyling. It was one of the best shows I produced throughout AFWL and based on feedback, those that saw the show were blown away.
AFWL received press from across the world and was featured on the BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, Arise TV, the Flyer Newspaper, Naija Swagger and so many more media outlets, way too many to mention.
I must briefly talk about the music which was produced by AFWL music director Dj Homeboy of Homdiggy Muzik one of the top music production companies in the country, he had people on their feet throughout the whole show and people did not want the after party to end.
Chapter Four – What Else?
There was just so much going on, in terms of the exhibition – I managed to go round the exhibition area on the Saturday and I was amazed at the array of clothes, bags, shoes, food and services that were on display. The exhibition area was lively and vibrant, with music being played by DJ Abass. The women (and men) were dressed to kill and made sure that they would be noticed and they were. I saw men suffering from double vision as they did not know where to look when it came to the women that were at AFWL and those attending with their wives were being slapped around the head for comitting lookery.
This was generally a stress free show (not that any show can really be stress free) but I did not shout much and I think we had it locked down in terms of producing the show.
Chapter Five - The Dorchester
I bet some of you thought that it ended at the Old Turman Brewery on the Saturday, it did not as on the Sunday we had the African Arts & Fashion Exhibition which was a prestigious gala event hosted by AFWL life patron Princess Fifi Ejindu. The stars were out in force with the likes of Alexandra Burke, Bianca Jagger, June Sarpong, Nadia Buari, super model Noella Musunka, Singer Shingai Shoniwa, Misha B and was hosted by Sky TV presenter Lukwesa Burak and a great performance by the CEO Dancers, everyone seems to love them.
The event could not be complete without a fashion show which featured 8 of Africa's hottest designers – Zizi Cardow, Thula Sindi, Adebayo Jones, Sally Itiego, Moofa, Ella & Gabby, Gisella Boutique and Kitiko.
It was a very glamorous affair with a sumptuous three course dinner, I can only say that it looked sumptuous as I didn't get to eat any of it, but it looked good and it definitely made me hungry. I cant believe I did an event at the Dorchester and did not get to eat – Ronke I am upset oh.
Overall AFWL was amongst the best events I have produced in recent times and I must commend Ronke Ademiluyi the founder of AFWL and her team for a fantastic job that they did. More importantly she must be given credit for assisting designers that would not normally be given the chance to showcase at an international standard fashion week and she was able to bring the eyes of the world to the event.
Check out the album below as well as the different pictures and comments on my FACEBOOK PAGE – feel free to leave your comments.
It's enough now, go and do something else I am tired.