Mr Mahogany's Review Saying it as it is...
After a year of planning for AFWL, yesterday 6th August saw the culmination of two days of non stop fashion shows featuring the best from designers that felt that Africa was important to them. I say it like this because not all the designers that show cased at AFWL were from Africa or of African heritage. We had designers from Poland, Scotland, India, Dominica as well as designers that flew in from all over Africa. The show was open to any designer that felt that being involved in AFWL was important to them.
AFWL was produced by Mahogany Productions and Events and a lot of people may not realise it but history was made - for the first time ever 50 designers were shown in just two days, over 40 models were used, 2400 people got to watch the 8 shows and unfortunately over 2700 people did not get to see the shows due to each show being full to capacity each time and we had over 8500 people register for tickets for the show.
Photographers and film crews came from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Holland, France, Germany and other places from around the globe.
The list of A1 press that were in attendance was unbelievable and included the BBC, Reuters, Comic Relief (sent 20 bloggers down), Vogue, Sky, FAB Magazine, Ben TV and the Fashions Finest team was there in full force, way too many press to mention them all.
As I read the Tweets and Facebook messages I am starting to catch up with the celebrities that dropped by which included the CEO of Africa Fashion Week (South Africa), Senator Giwa, Alexander Amusu, Adebayo Jones, representatives from various African and European embassies and so many more. As far as I am concerned everyone that attended was a celebrity.
Now let's get down to the Kitty gritty the show itself. My honest opinion is that for the first show of its kind it was an outstanding and a fantastic success.
Overall all of the shows started dead on time which does not even happen consistently at the top fashion weeks around the world. Out of 8 shows only the finale gala night started half an hour late and this was due to capacity issues and too many people that did not have invitations trying to get in and a problem with AFWL being honest, not managing the press and the VIP invitations as well as they could have and finally with our people being rude to the venue staff who nearly put a stop to the gala because of these people.
When we finally resolved all issues, we informed that no more people couldcome in even though we were not at full capacity. So to a number of my personal friends that got turned away - yes by me, I am sorry but it really was not my fault. Even with all of that we still should only have been 15 minutes late but then the unbelievable happened a senseless lady decided that the best place for her to put her glass of red wine was on the stage which was covered in a pure white carpet - before I say it you already know what I am going to say - yes you are right she spilt it on the stage and turned my lovely white carpet into what looked like the aftermath of a murder scene, you know when a body has been removed but the blood is still there. It was a good thing that my staff refused to point her out to me, as this blog would have been coming to you from Brixton prison.
So the dilemma for me was could I go on with the show with this massive red stain in the middle of the stage, what could I do? I had no option but to call my production guys in and with 250 people in the hall we assessed the situation and made the decision that we would change the carpet and within 15 minutes the great Ricardo, the crew and I got down on our hands and knees and replaced the carpet.
We eventually started the gala show at 7.30, 30 minutes later than planned. Those of you who know me would know that I would have been very upset at being late but all the guests that were lucky enough to get in were patient and very understanding and throughout I made sure that I kept everyone informed of what was happening, as I dislike it when I attend a show and its running late and I am just sitting there and I have no idea as to why or what is happening.
As far as I am concerned everything about the shows worked, the designers were as a whole were on point, just a few of them need to work on their finishing and quality of the fabric they used but that is the beauty of being part of AFWL, everyone is given a chance and it is primarily aimed at graduate, new and aspiring designers. It is unfair to name any particular designers as standing out but based on some of the independent reviews some of the designers to watch were Sve, Mia by Mia Nisbet, Adookeh, Ozora and menswear was stolen by Zekarayas Solomon, and our very own Top Model of Colour winner featured with her Adopted Culture label, however as far as I am concerned all of the designers that featured at AFWL were outstanding.
Now, there were two distinct areas that I think AFWL fell short on and that was managing the overwhelming amount of press and in particular the issuance of press passes, by this I mean it's ok to invite the press but any particular media house should have been restricted to a specific number of passes (no more than two per media house) but the few times I had to help out at the door I found members of the press were bringing in friends who did not work for that media house. The second issue was that we had way to many people show up then we could get into the venue, I know a lot of people said that we should have restricted the ticket registration system but not sure that would have been fair. For example we had over 8000 people register for tickets but only 3500 came to the venue and based on that if we had restricted it a lot of people that did actually get in to the shows may not have.
So my summation and how I feel about some of the issues raised by a variety of people. This was our first ever fashion week and comparing us to London Fashion Week that has been running for 26 years and has a budget that runs into millions somehow does not make sense. I go to LFW as press every February and September and for some of the shows I queue up forever and don't always get in and sadly that is life and this happens more so when it is free. Why should we at AFWL be held to a higher standard and compared to others that have far better resources than us, I am not saying give me and the AFWL team a knighthood etc but before saying things like because I did not get in I will not do business with African designers that does not make sense - well not to me anyway.
AFWL welcomes all of the comments and feedback that we have received good and bad and we will act upon it and try and improve where we can but if any of you think that at AFWL demand would not exceed supply, then sorry people you are not being realistic, unless of course we charge you £30 to get into each show.
I must say that I had a fantastic team that worked with me on the show and it is a must that I mention and thank them publicly for the fantastic job that they did:
Twisted Fashion - our event managers (superstars beyond superstars)
Sonia - our head of styling team
Mink Cosmetics - make up sponsors
Real Hair by Clara - hair sponsors
Linda Buckingham - who should have been relaxing watching her young daughter model but instead worked tirelessly backstage All of the fantastic models
Krystle - press
Ricardo - man above all men
The great team of volunteers that helped throughout the show
I must commend the founders of AFWL Ronke & Kamari Ademuliyi who had the vision and the courage to do such a big event and bring it to the UK and finally to all of you whether you attended or not for supporting us and recognising that if we are one, we will go places and achieve great things.
I bet you thought I forgot as to why I said I had to get the Royal Protection Squad, you know I would never do that to you. To try and ensure that the gala event went as smoothly as possible I had to take over the supervision of people gaining access to the gala and this was due to the fact that information had come to my attention that lots of people were eager to attend even though they did not have tickets to this invitation only event. In the process of being creative director I also became head of security and head bouncer and I had the unfortunate duty of turning away or refusing to grant entry to NUMEROUS people, which sadly included some friends and business associates that I have known for many, many years. In the process of doing this I was told about myself in no uncertain terms and I saw a few people the following day who said I looked directly at them and refused to let them in. Firstly I did not see them and secondly - I am really sorry but this is business for me and I believe it is important to be as fair as possible. It must be noted that I knew 100's of people that came to AFWL and would have been unfair if I just let in people that I knew or I had worked with.
To my friends, I know a few of you took it personally as I felt the cold shoulder when I spoke to you the following day, well how I feel about that is that you can't really be my friend as you would have understood and not have taken it to heart. As mentioned above there were issues I had to deal with and dealt with everything as fairly as I could. I am not being arrogantor pompous but as the saying goes "frankly my dear I don't give a dam".
Sometimes when people disappear for a while especially unexpectedly and you don't hear from them it might be because they have been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure (in jail), however in my case fortunately my absence has been solely due to being overwhelmed with work.
Its been a busy couple of months and currently when I look at my schedule it seems like things are not going to get any easier. I was thinking what would I talk about as there has been so much happening and t initially I was going to talk about some issues I had with Fashions Finest Awards and how some people who I thought were friends that disappointed me and let me down, but forget that as there have been so many things going on in the world that are far more important.
The demise of Amy Winehouse as sad as it is that a young woman of 27 years of age dies long before her time, does not really come as a real surprise or shock to anyone. To those that it is a shock seriously guys wake up and smell the coffee. A talented singer that has had a troubled life full of drugs and alcohol for a while now was clearly always on the path to destruction. Despite the help her record label and her family tried to give her nothing seemed to work and we all know the bad effects of drugs. It is easy for people to say that why did she not just stop, seek help or how did she get into them in the first place, but when you get hooked on drugs and alcohol its not easy to come off them – many a famous celebrity over the years have passed on due to the affects of drugs and alcohol, such as John Belushi (actor), Dorothy Daindrige (actress, singer), Phyliss Hyman (singer) and it also has to include Michael Jackson (yes it does, check it out he died of Cardiac arrest from his Personal physician administering a lethal dose of propofol along with lorazepam, diazepam and midazolam.
Drugs can kill regardless of if it is taken for recreational use or just administered wrongly, with do hope that there will not be many more deaths.
The only tiny saving grace in this tragedy is that unlike many others that have passed on due to drugs and alcohol Amy Winehouse has a legacy that will live on in terms of her music. Amy Winehouse RIP
A Norwegian Tragedy
Even though it is likely that Amy Winehouse will steal the headlines due to her being a celebrity and tragically dying even though it was self inflicted), the level of sympathy must be appropriate especially when a few hours before 92 people were murdered by a 32 year old Christian fundamentalist Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik. The first reports stated that suspected Islamic terrorists had committed these atrocities but they so got that wrong.
I am confused, religion whether it is Islam or Christianity is meant to preach and practice peace but some of the greatest atrocities in the world over the centuries have been committed in the name of religion. How someone's views on religion can justify taking the lives of innocent people, I just cannot understand. This was the act of a deprived, sadistic manic who should never see the light of day again.
If you have not heard about the hacking scandal that has engulfed the UK and has led to the closure of the News of The World newspaper then you have been in hibernation or living under a rock.
Everything was going well for Mr Murdock and co whilst it seemed that they were only hacking the phones of celebrities and politicians but the moment it was discovered that they were hacking the phones of ordinary citizens but more importantly people that had experienced tragedy such as the Molly Dowler family (a young girl that was murdered) or victims of the 7/7 bombings, then everything changed and rightly so.
I do agree that in a lot of cases that journalist must do what they have to do to get the story which they feel is in the public interest. Celebrities and politicians are unfortunately fair game purely on the basis that from time immemorial everyone knows that if you have any of these two careers this comes as part of the package. But what justification do these journalist have to illegally intrude on ordinary peoples lives at the time of deep tragedy. There are laws in this country that even the police have to abide by when it comes to hacking and wire tapping. Watch this space as many more heads are going to roll, similar to the police commissioners that have already gone and some people for sure will be going to jail. It does look like that the prime minister is going to get away with this – only just.
Africa Fashion Week London
I am the creative director producing this show and have been working with a fantastic team trying to put something memorial together, but even I must admit it is going to be one of the most challenging shows that I have ever done. Over 53 designers from across the world will be showcasing over 2 days, that's right I did say over 53 designers over 2 days.
Besides being challenging it is going to be very exciting as interest from mainstream media such as the BBC, CNN and so many more are geared up and very excited to be involved in the first ever AFWL.
So if you have not got your ticket yet I suggest you REGISTER ONLINE now as it is free to attend the shows, yes once again I repeat and say that it is FREE to attend, as much as possible Mahogany tries to bring events that are open to and for the people and where possible at no costs to you.
The two gala nights are going to be something special featuring the best designers from across the world and at the Saturday gala show Genevieve Nnaji Africa's biggest and most famous actress will be featuring her collection and it is also hoped that she will be in attendance along with the numerous other invitation only guests. For the Friday and Saturday night galas, we have a very limited amount of tickets available that members of the public can purchase – there are very few left so get yours now by clicking on the link above.
Top Model of Colour Regional Heats
With all of the events going on it looks like that Top Model of Colour is not going on but trust me it is and the regional heats will be taking place on the 14th & 21st August (the heat on the 21st August will feature both male & female models) and is taking place at Tiger Tiger London – get your TICKETS now.
Those of you that have been before know how much fun we have at these shows and you have your opportunity to be a part of finding the next super model of colour .
As much as I would love to keep talking to you, I have so much to do, so I have to run. I will try and make sure that I am back more often.
I am not sure why it is controversial, as all she has done is gone from a light skin woman to a dark skinned woman wearing African inspired outfits. To me it is only controversial because it is Beyonce and due to the fact that people are concerned that more and more she is trying to come across as a European woman as nowadays she seems to have blonde hair and her skin seems lighter.
For me in this shoot she looks beautiful and portrays black women in a strong positive way and is also promoting Africa, so on this one I am cool with it.
What are your views?
During my life I have been fortunate in that I have seen many firsts, segregation coming to an end in the United States, Nelson Mandela being released from prison in South Africa, the Berlin Wall coming down between West & East Germany, the
Let's get down to the nitty gritty cos this is not about who attended but about "the journey" of The Mirror Boy, besides Africa United there has never to my knowledge been an African film premiere in the West End and this one I am sure of, there has never been a Nollywood p
Forget Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Libya there were more people on the streets of the West End then people that have been protesting in all of those countries combined, ok a little bit of exaggeration, well quite a bit of exaggeration but my point is that at the premiere itself there were over 1000 in the cinema and another 500 people stuck outside that could not get in.
Once you managed to get in, you had to fight your way through the media scrum, numerous photographers and film crews from all over interviewing the celebrities and stars in attendance. Beautiful hostesses provided by Mahogany Models who were well managed by Chantelle Hall.
Up until now I thought ok a little bit hectic and then it happened, the room became electric and if were not in London we would have had a power outage due to the surge of energy that entered the room as soon as Genevieve Nnaji, Osita Iheme & Fatima Jabbe arrived, even I was overwhelmed by how manic it became for a minute I thought that Oprah Winfrey, Eddie Murphy and Will Smith had arrived.
Hey if you were at the event and I am telling you what you already know, tough – this is for those that were not there or did not get to see some of the inner workings or what was going on.
The story continues – we got into the hall and I sat with Genevieve, Osita, Fatima and the young child actor Edward Kagutuzi (well he is not that young, about 20 really), right at the front. By the way sitting at the front at a major cinema is not cool, it's like the screen is about to eat you up and everyone in the movie looks like giants. A question and answer session took place and the film started.
The Movie: I have decided not to do a critic of the film as for me The Mirror Boy was about the history it was making more than how good or bad the film was, but in short it is a good movie, great sound
The length of the movie was just right and as soon as it finished there was plenty of back slapping and hi fives and lots of quick networking – "call me let's talk" networking and those of us that had some energy left and went off to the after party to shake a leg or two, still aching now I am really too old for this shake a leg thing.
I am proud that I, Mahogany Models and Fashions Finest were actively involved in this historic occasion but the real Kudos must go to Obi Emelonye (Director), Patrick Campbell (Producer), Charles Thompson (Consulting Producer) & DJ Abass who worked their magic to not only make this movie but also to have the foresight, the vision and the balls to do a premiere in the West End and trust me it takes cahooneys to do such a thing.
It feels a bit like the ending of apartheid, the West End is no longer just for mainstream movie premieres.
For those of you that want to read about the more serious stuff of the premiere watch out for the reports on Fashions Finest by our reporter Olakumbi Akiwumi & red carpet pictures by Fashions Finest Photographers Kenneth Asia & Trevor Fogah-Griffiths.
America has always been accused of having its racial problems and that people from the African American community don’t do so well in the states, but I think that even though it may still have issues compared to many other western countries America has come a long way (Obama for instance), but this is not what this piece is about.
Being that I am a night bird, I am at my computer working watching Super Bowl 45 (not sure if I understand it, as I can never understand why when they have not even scored a touchdown, every time they move a few inches they celebrate like they have won the whole Super Bowl), anyway its half time and they bring on the entertainment and for a number of years now it has been top black artiste that have been headlining the half time entertainment.
It is estimated that over 95 million people watch Super Bowl.
This year it was Black Eyed Peas and Usher that took centre stage and this is bearing in mind that more white people watch Super Bowl than any other race, but America seems to be more integrated and accepting of the different cultures and genres of music that it has in its rich country.
Not sure if we would ever see JLS and Leona Lewis as the sole or main headline acts of a similar type of event held in the UK.
The book is entitled "ALMOST BRITISH" by Olivea M. Ebanks, it is a deep read and is over 420 pages long and has been endorsed by Doreen Lawrence OBE (The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust).
The book is about Olivea's rare story of victory. " This can't be happening! Not racism. Not in the 21st Century in England. and not in Her Majesty's Prison Service! But it was happening and Olivea had two options: she could either take the constant abuse , ignore the racial comments, and differential treatment in the hope that it would go away or she could stand up to her bullies. In 2008, Olivea chose bravely, and took the Prison Service and her colleagues to court for direct racial discrimination, harrassment and victimisation. She stood alone to represent herself in a 15 day hearing and won!"
It is a great read and I think Doreen Lawrence OBE surmises the book eloquently "I believe this book will bring attention to the racism and suffering of individuals and it will help to bring about change for the institution as a whole"
Another great read is a book that has been donated to TMC 2010 winner Nana Afua by Alison Husbands entitled "THE AFRO HAIR & BEAUTY BIBLE". The must have beauty book for women of colour. Ever wondered how some women of colour can grow long thick healthy hair down to their waist; when your hair seems to stop growing at shoulder length? Yes...then this book is for you.
In this book you would discover the secrets of how to achieve and maintain beautiful healthy Afro hair and learn the proper techniques and methods to make you look and feel your best.
Learn what skin care and make-up brands work best with black skin as well as discovering natural alternatives for everyday beauty regimes. So natural or relaxed, grab a copy of this book and find out how to get the long hair you have always wanted.
It would be very bad manners of me if I did not start by saying Happy New Year to you and I pray that it is an Austerity Free year for you and all of your hearts desires may be fulfilled, whether it be seeking financial reward, love or marriage, a new job or the success of your business or career, you will achieve them – that is my prayer for you.
It is amazing that the besides people going to church for christenings, weddings and funerals the one other time that most people seem to attend church is on New Year's Eve, it is as if people feel that if they go to church on New Year's Eve good luck will follow them for the whole year (before you asked I was one of them that made it to church last night) and I must be honest that I have not attended church as much as I should have, so I may just be in the group of people I talk about above. I do however pray daily but as I have been told I should go to church more regularly.
At this time of the year I like to do a quick review of what has happened throughout the year and also briefly talk about what Mr Mahogany has been up to.
We still have the most powerful man in the world being a black man, but 2011 will be a tough year for him as he prepares to bid for a second term. Mr President we got your back because the world would be in serious trouble if Sarah Palin gets elected as president.
The war still goes on, enough already.
This website has changed the way spies work and how governments will communicate with each other. It would be interesting to see what the long term effects will be on freedom of information, but more importantly will the Americans get their man the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange. You know they will not rest until they get their man dead or alive – I wonder!
Is the World Coming to an end?
Haiti - One of the poorest countries in the world faced further devastation with an earthquake that killed at least 150,000 people. Sadly the international response was very slowly and may have been the cause for many people dying.
Pakistan – record flooding in northwest Pakistan led to tens of millions of people being made homeless or having to leave their homes.
Iceland – the volcano eruptions in Iceland led to worldwide disruption of air travel for many across the world.
UK and USA – unusual heavy snowfall led to the closure of two of the world's largest airports, JFK and Heathrow and a lot of angry people.
One of the happiest stories of the year was the rescue of 33 Chilean miners that were trapped underground for over two months. Well done to the Chileans that were able to complete a fete that many western countries would struggle to do. Can't wait for the film.
Africa is the New Fashion and Entertainment Capital of the World
If you have not been to Africa then you better get on the band wagon as Africa is the new fashion and entertainment capital of the world. Nollywood is officially rated as the second largest film industry in the world and with films like, Aje, The Figurine and Mirror Boy getting rave reviews across the world. The quality of films produced by Nollywood has improved and some of them are on par with Hollywood films. An aside, watch out as I am expecting the Ghanaian movie industry to do some great things having already produced great films like Sinking Sands featuring Ama K and the likes of Rachael Williams (Miss Black Britain) hoping to make her mark within the Ghanaian film industry, things are looking good.
Nigeria – this has been a good year for Nigeria, in February they hosted the Face of Africa Finale and in December they hosted the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA's) which was hosted by Eve.
South Africa – hosted the first ever World Cup in Africa which in my view was an outstanding success and Ghana was the only African team that did us proud, I am still an adopted Ghanaian. Well done to Spain for winning the World Cup for the first time in their history and shame on Holland for trying to kick their way to winning the World Cup.
Shows that got it Wrong:
Africa Music Awards – it has all been said in a previous blog but we look forward to them getting it right in 2011 and if they don't invite me cos they have black listed me I will still sneak my way in cos I have to support our own.
Beffta's – as above.
Australia's Next Top Model – get the result right in 2011.
X Factor – Gamu, Wagner, Cheryl Cole – enough said. However I am looking forward to X Factor America and wondering if I would like American Idol now that Simon Cowell has left.
Mr EnglandMr England – congratulations to Vaughan Bailey for being the first black man to win the coveted MR England pageant lets hope he will not go down the line of Ms Rachael Christie the first ever black winer of Miss England.
Sour Grapes – one of the most disappointing events of 2010 was the attitude of the English football establishment at not being awarded the 2018 World Cup finals. Guys you lost, live with it and get on with life, you have no God given right to host it and like how you put South Africa down when they won, you did the same with Russia. Russia will host a good World Cup, not sure I want to go there though as it is far.
It has been a good year for Mahogany with our events growing from strength to strength and Mr Mahogany himself (by the way that is me) producing and event managing more shows abroad and in the UK, doing more presenting and judging work. I am eagerly looking forward to 2011 as I seek to become an actor (excuse me stop laughing, I am sure I could be a good actor) and we will be doing a lot more shows that aim to assist people get started or promote themselves within the fashion and entertainment industry. I have included some brief details below.
TMC Holland – the first ever winner of TMC Holland Adut Mawien was crowned in March 2010 and TMC Holland 2011 is expected to be even bigger.
TMC UK – celebrated its fifth year and Nana Afua Antwi and Jason Daniel Best won and to commemorate our 5th year all of our previous winners were presented with a special award.
Fashions Finest Magazine – is one of our biggest projects to date. We have been working on it for the past 6 months and it will go live in the middle of January 2011 and is an online fashion magazine that aims to promote people that either mainstream or the big players in the fashion and entertainment are not eager to promote or anyone locally or international that has something interesting to say or promote. The magazine is for EVERYONE of all nationalities, fashion and entertainment genres.
Fashions Finest Renaissance – fashions shows will be taking place every month throughout the year with the primary aim to promote new, aspiring and established designers, creatives, photographers etc to achieve maximum exposure within their communities as well as within mainstream fashion. The shows confirmed so far are on the 16th and 30th January and the 19th and 20th February (taking place during London Fashion Week).
Fashions Finest Awards – this is the event that everyone has been asking for and looking forward too. Fashions Finest Awards aims to redress the imbalance of small or medium size individuals or companies not being recognised by mainstream fashion either because they are different or not considered big enough or prestigious enough to be considered for a British Fashion Award. Through Fashions Finest Awards, designers, creatives and models that work within the culturally diverse fashion industry will be acknowledged and recognised for their talent. These awards are open to EVERYONE, of all nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, all genres of fashion, small and large. July 2011 will host the first ever annual Fashions Finest Awards, which will be a prestigious awards ceremony that would be truly appreciated by its invited guests, nominees, recipients and would be recognised generally within the British fashion industry and internationally as a sign of true talent and professionalism.
People I feel should be recognised (I am not giving a reason as if you know them I think what they do or have done speaks for themselves – if you don't then go and find out about them)...
Charles Thompson, Sherry Dixon, Alexander Amosu, JLS, Rachael Williams, Yemi Oshunkoya, Eryca Freemantle, Deborah St Louis, Natalie Barrett, Naomi Campbell and the Sleek Sisters (based in Nigeria – ok on this one I will explain – they run the biggest Sleek franchise in the world and are such nice as people), My TMC Team (Tope, Amina, Claudia, Redz, Eva and Gregory).
Finally I must end by paying tribute to all of those that have left us in 2010 including family and friends of people I know, but whom as much as I would want to mention them by name I am unable to, but our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has lost someone dear to them. Here are a few of the celebrities that left us in 2010.
Alexander McQueen – British Fashion Designer
Dennis Hooper – Actor
Gary Coleman - Actor
James MacArthur – Actor (Dan O in Hawaii five O)
Lena Horne – Legendary Singer
Teddy Pendergrass – Singer
Tony Curtis - Actor
Teena Marie - Singer
It's now time that I stopped as I know some of you are recovering from a hangover, lack of sleep from hard core partying or just want to spend some time with the family, so reading a long blog is far from being on your mind.
MAY 2011 BE YOUR BEST YEAR EVER!