High fashion in Africa is an ancient tradition. A colorful, vibrant, multifaceted custom where wealth is historically presented in fabric expression. Couture isn’t a special occasion either: for the average middle-class family is bound to have their tailor (aka couture designer) on speed dial, ready to collaborate on and create one-of-a-kind celebratory attire.
The same applies to royalty, whose loyalty toward local artisans and supporting their community’s craftsmanship is generally unsurpassed. My own regal tendencies deeply speak to this passion, defining my years of helping cultivate Africa’s fashion landscape.
Today, the continent’s millennial style surge is a very exciting one. Heritage stays fused with the future in texturized intersections never seen before. Suddenly, global eyes on the African prize are in rapid rise.
Most recently, Naomi Campbell and Imaan Hammam lent their modeling skills to one of the continent’s fashion showcases: Nigeria’s Arise. Their presence garnered wide (and deserved) attention, as did the works of Ozwald Boateng’s “@Africanism” inspired collection, Rich Mnisi’s raw extravagance, Churlap’s wave of new age Dogon, and Tinie Tempah’s motherland take on his What We Wear brand.
“The designers really stood out for me,” Hammam says about her experience of gracing the Arise catwalk. “The collections were so fresh, I’d love to see more of that in Europe.” Campbell described her first visit to Nigeria as “amazing” and she also took time to visit the virally popular Dream Catchers, a group of former street kids turned dancers whose children’s home is based in Lagos.
Words by Rozan Ahmed