Friday 24th of March 2023

Nairobi, Kenya

LVMH Prize Semifinalists Herald New Era of ‘Expansive Expression’

PARIS  Held online for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic, the LVMH Prize showroom provided a tantalizing glimpse of what’s in store once the world returns to normal, and when it comes to fashion, it seems that anything goes.

Working under the toughest economic conditions in recent industry memory, this year’s 20 semifinalists presented eclectic collections rooted in their personal culture and identity. The ban on international travel only served to highlight the geographic diversity of the participants, including the first Arab woman to make the shortlist.

“This year, there was a lot of color and knitwear. Two or three years ago, the big story was streetwear. That’s less the case now. There is a growing trend for gender-fluid fashion, and sustainability remains a core concern,” said Delphine Arnault, second-in-command at Louis Vuitton and a key talent scout at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the parent company of brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Fendi.

“It really reflects the state of fashion at any given time. It’s like a snapshot of society,” she added.

That image has never felt more fractured. American designer Christopher John Rogers, known for dressing celebrities like Cardi B, Rihanna, and Lizzo in his colorful creations on the red carpet as well as Vice President Kamala Harris at the Biden inauguration described the era of fashion as one of “expansive expression” in his presentation at the digital showroom, which ran from April 6 to 11.

“I want to be a part of this league of talent that is breaking down this traditional aesthetic hierarchy of what we expect luxury clothes to look like,” he told WWD in a Zoom interview from New York City.

“We’re in an era where someone who’s doing this really beautiful double-felted cashmere coat in gray that work can be just as chic as this rainbow intarsia knit fantasy, you know? It’s kind of the same thing. It just depends on what your preference is, and it doesn’t have to be on some scale. That’s something I really believe in, and I think that this year’s crop of semifinalists definitely are proof of that,” he added.

Like many emerging designers, he’s gearing up for an era of freedom once the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

“Everyone’s kind of anticipating another Roaring Twenties moment where everyone’s craving to get out, craving to just let loose and not really care too much about everyone else’s opinions about how they look,” he said. “Everyone’s going to want to present themselves differently, but I think the one universal vibe is just going to be, like, ‘insanity.’”

London-based designer Alicia Robinson, whose AGR label is known for rainbow-hued knitwear and patchwork cargo pants, echoed the sentiment.

“The new era of fashion has definitely changed, we no longer have to follow those traditional paths. You can create your own platform. You can talk to your consumers directly and that’s all due to technology,” she said in her filmed presentation.

In the meantime, designers are dealing with hurdles ranging from closed stores to presenting their collections to buyers online. While the physical LVMH Prize showroom, traditionally staged during Paris Fashion Week in early March, normally gives them instant access to a wide range of industry luminaries over a 24-hour period, there was no such rush of adrenaline this time around.

“It’s really strange, because this whole prize is centered around something that’s quite physical, which is clothes, and we’re doing it all digitally,” said Cynthia Merhej, the Lebanese designer behind the Renaissance Renaissance label. “I think they did a really great job with the platform. It looks amazing.”

Cerebral yet sensual, her designs are rooted in rebellion against Lebanon’s patriarchal society with not a sequin in sight. “The pieces are not meant to be Instagram pieces. That’s not the philosophy behind it at all, so they really need to be seen and touched,” she argued.

Arnault said the showroom event was pushed back by a month to give organizers time to create an enhanced site, with content including videos and 360-degree views of key outfits. For the first time, members of the public are being asked to select their favorite, with 10,000 votes registered by midday on Friday.

“It’s always interesting to touch the fabrics, see the quality of the products and the creativity of the cuts. That’s not as easy to do online,” the executive noted. “Our teams have done a tremendous job to try to render as faithfully as possible a meeting with the designer.”

It represents a digital leap for the event. “It gives them visibility, and for the next editions, it will allow us to combine, hopefully, a physical event with this existing digital platform that we can build on in the future. It’s also great for the public, so it will give us the best of both worlds,” Arnault said.

LVMH hopes designers will be able to physically attend its prize-giving ceremony, tentatively scheduled for September. Last year, it divided the 300,000-euro prize money between the eight finalists, in addition to creating a solidarity fund for previous winners.

“We hope it will be a physical event, but if that’s not possible, we will rethink the format of the prize. We may do something similar to last year, or we might have a new idea. But right now, we are very much hoping to have a live final,” Arnault said.

Even experienced remotely, being short-listed for a prize is a lifeline for many of the smaller designers selected. Merhej, whose label is stocked exclusively at Net-a-porter, described it as “a huge ray of sunshine” after a year marked by a deep economic crisis, successive lockdowns, and a devastating explosion in Beirut in August.

“I know it’s really meaningful for everyone in Lebanon, because we really need a win, in a way. We need something positive to look forward to,” she said. “Since last year, we’ve been going through what I can only call a nightmare mixed with hell.”

As the first Arab woman to make the cut since the prize was launched in 2015, she hopes to open the way for other Middle Eastern designers and change preconceptions about her culture.

“We feel others are telling our stories in ways that don’t really feel familiar to us, or we keep being pigeon-holed into certain narratives,” she explained. “Lebanon means nice food, beach, Botox, embellished gowns, everything over-the-top and crazy, but that’s not the Lebanon I personally know. Yeah, I think that exists, but there’s also a huge chunk of us that aren’t like that.”

Adeju Thompson, the Nigeria-born founder of the Lagos Space Programme, similarly wants to challenge the image of African fashion. A nonbinary, queer, Yoruba, and Black designer, who goes by the pronouns they/them, their multilayered creations stand out in a city known for its status dressing.

“Even though a lot of what I do is informed by my identity as an African, I’m more than that. I’m a global designer,” said Thompson, who cites designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo as early influences. “In my work, that’s something that I’m always hyper-aware of, you know  just trying to break up misconceptions about what design coming from the continent looks like.”

There’s a strong political dimension to it, too. In 2019, Thompson was assaulted by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a notorious unit of the Nigerian police with a long record of abuses. “I was detained for five hours because of how I dressed,” they recalled.

“I think it was in that moment when I started to see Lagos Space Programme and the work I do as a form of protest,” Thompson said. “When I’m exploring my identity as a queer person, in the West, this is normal, and I guess so many designers could do this. Where I come from, I could get into trouble. For me, it’s so important that I speak up for myself.”

Sold exclusively at the Lagos concept store Alara, the label has caught the attention of overseas buyers following its recent presentation during Milan Fashion Week, but Thompson is taking it slow. “I’ve never been someone who is very comfortable with the limelight. I don’t want to be a celebrity designer. I am very happy to be not seen, and for my work to speak for itself,” they said.

Chinese designer Shuting Qiu, another cross-cultural creative, believes the LVMH Prize has the potential to break down barriers. Born in Hangzhou, she left at 19 to study at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium.

“If I win, for the cultural communication it really helps because I’m contemporary Chinese: I have my Asian culture, but I also understand European culture,” she said, noting that China has yet to launch a breakthrough designer on the international stage.

“Chinese design is getting better and better, so I really can help. I can do something in my generation,” Qiu mused. “I really feel like I have a responsibility to do this. It’s also my dream  it’s pushing me to really work hard to go forward.”

Used to traveling across the world to gather inspiration, she has refocused her attention on Chinese destinations and is also sourcing more fabrics domestically, like the silk jacquards that she likes to pair with clashing prints and colorful embroideries.

“I think people want to wear something more colorful, cheerful and easy more casual maybe, something light,” she said of the mood one year into the pandemic.

“I never want to see a pair of jeans again,” offered Merhej, noting that Lebanese women are experts at using fashion to beat the blues. ”Life there is quite difficult, so the only thing we have that cheers us up, and makes us feel good and better about our reality, in a way, is getting dressed up.”

The class of 2021 could well usher in a new era of individuality in fashion. “Christian Dior created his house in 1947 after World War II. After very challenging periods, you always see a surge in creativity. I’m curious to see what will come out of this pandemic,” Arnault said.

Content courtesy of WWD & Nairobi fashion hub 

Jendaya, a New Luxury e-Commerce Platform Focused on Africa

Prada, Givenchy, and Marine Serre are just some of the labels that will be available on this new luxury platform aimed at African consumers, alongside local labels such as Rich Mnisi, AAKS, and Imad Eduso. The launch is scheduled for July 1, by invitation only.

Meet the needs of African consumers looking for luxury clothing and highlight designers from the continent: these are the main objectives of the e-commerce platform Jendaya, which will soon offer ready-to-wear pieces, accessories, and luxury beauty products for men and women. A launch that aims to alleviate various problems faced by African consumers, such as the long delivery times of online retailers who already have visibility on the continent, as highlighted by Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).

While he wants to focus on Africa, Ayotunde Rufai, CEO of the London-based platform, has chosen not to exclude buyers from the rest of the world. From its launch, Jendaya will therefore allow consumers from other continents to purchase clothing and accessories from leading African and Western fashion houses. “The next generation luxury fashion experience, for Africa and beyond,” the new e-commerce player indicates on its Instagram account.

Jendaya presents itself as a set of multi-brand e-shops dedicated to luxury, along the lines of Net-a-porter and Mytheresa. In addition to the e-commerce part, there will also be editorial content focused on African fashion. There are already several articles available on African models and the latest Fashion Weeks, as well as an interview with the CEO of Thrill Digital on technology and fashion.

According to WWD, Jendaya is set to launch in July, but in a pilot phase; in other words, only consumers who receive an invitation will have the opportunity to discover the dozens of Western and African brands present on the platform. In addition to the collections of each brand, Jendaya will also unveil over time exclusive collaborations and capsules and will offer its customers the opportunity to enjoy a personalized styling service.

Beyond the possibility for continental African consumers to have easier access to luxury labels, whether local or Western, this new platform will give greater visibility to the expertise and young talents of a continent that has, until now, been under-promoted in the fashion industry.

The Next Generation Luxury Fashion Experience for Africa and Beyond, From AAKS to Zegna, JENDAYA delivers luxury fashion to Africa and beyond. We are building the next generation experience where you can discover exciting brands, digest the latest, and shop the best. Currently, we are preparing for our pre-selected community of stylish and savvy shoppers to test our platform. We’re coming soon. Be the first to know.

Content courtesy of Jendaya, Premium Beauty News & Nairobi fashion hub 

With Traditional Fabrics, Nigerian Designers Fashion a New Aesthetic

Weaving contemporary designs into a traditional West African fabric, Nigerian Tsemaye Binitie is creating fashion he hopes can also bridge the gap between luxury and the everyday.

His material of choice is Aso-oke, a hand-woven cloth indigenous to the Yoruba people and historically used on special occasions.

Binitie, who cut his teeth as a design assistant with Stella McCartney in 2005, began using the fabric in 2017, and he infuses the yellow dresses that are his signature creations with cotton and silks to give them a post-modern feel.

“We started to use contemporary African art and culture within the threads of the collection so you see hints of it or very … obvious (signs),” said Binitie, who divides his time between Lagos and London.

“It’s sort of informed fabric, informed color, informed styling.”

Priced at between $300 and $4,000, his TB12 custom collection features Aso-oke – which means “top cloth” in Yoruba – in seven different shades.

“We are sort of preserving the culture, you know, that we’ve watched all our lives in front of us … and teaching the younger generation that it is something to be proud of, something to want to wear,” he told Reuters.

Fellow Lagos designer Lisa Folawiyo specializes in a different traditional cloth, the West African wax prints known as Ankara, and her hybrid collection, called Batkara, incorporates Batik designs embellished with needle-work beadings and sequin trimmings. “We have merged what is indigenous to us with what is familiar in the West and we’ve made it ours,” she said.

That same synthesis informs the aesthetic of Alara, a Lagos store dedicated to showcasing contemporary African fashion for the Nigerian and the diaspora markets. Its Head of Partnerships, Arinola Fagbemi, says more and more people are thinking about African luxury “in terms of how we live on a day-to-day basis … not just for celebratory moments.”

Content courtesy of Malaya Business Insight & Nairobi fashion hub 

Last chance for South Africa local Designers to enter New Talent Search

Time is ticking, and if you haven’t entered the South African Fashion Week New Talent Search 2021 now is the time to do so.

With only two weeks until the applications close, South African designers are urged to join in the movement of changing how we look at fabric design within fashion design.

The New Talent Search is open to ladies’ wear designers whose businesses are based in South Africa. All designer applicants must supply a minimum of one store (this can include your store or online store) and must be under 10 years in business to qualify to enter.

To give their consumers something different, this is what the designers must look into:

  • Consider fabrics that have the least impact on the environment.
  • Natural linen, cotton, and sustainably sourced fabrics.
  • Fur and leather-free.
  • Their Designs must include print on at least 50% of the garments.
  • Zero-waste cutting such as draping, knitting, or using a zero-waste pattern.
  • Provide consumer care instructions to lengthen the garment’s longevity.
  • Create a timeless and trans-seasonal collection.

Designers must also research slow fashion to make sure they understand it in a way that they can live it and play a role in shaping the future of sustainable fashion.

They must also base their designs on 2021 world trends by combining contemporary shapes, styles, and construction with their inspirations and design talent.

The winner will walk away with prizes to the value of ± R455000

Click for more information about  SA Fashion Week Talent Search 

Content courtesy of SA Fashion Week  & Nairobi fashion hub 

Festival Africana To Highlight African Culture This Weekend

‘I’m Bringing Africa To Pittsburgh’ a multi-day virtual, global celebration of African style, beauty, design & culture

Happening this weekend is the first of a four-part series highlighting African design, style, beauty and culture.

Demeatria Boccella is the festival producer of Festival Africana.

“I’m bringing Africa to Pittsburgh,” Boccella told KDKA’s Lisa Washington.

Boccella says the idea was born after she connected with a Parisian curator.

“Once we got to know one another, we realized that our missions were aligned, as it relates to elevating Black creatives, elevating and supporting Black creatives. I said the only difference is we live on different continents,” Boccella added.

The two initially planned to create a project in Pittsburgh, celebrating the diversity of the African diaspora, but were forced to pivot to a virtual festival because of the pandemic.

“We’re hoping that during these difficult times this will be a moment of encouragement, a moment of inspiration,” said Boccella.

The festival includes a fashion editorial produced in Ghana, a showcase of African accessories, home décor and a concert an event Boccella describes as timely and necessary.

She added, “It’s so important on so many levels…because it is about equity. It is empowerment. It’s about celebrating who we are as people of African descent.”

There are plans for an in-person exhibition in Pittsburgh in the fall of 2021.

Content courtesy of KDKA & Nairobi fashion hub

Fabric Map of Africa By Mia Kora

Fabric map of Africa celebrating the richness of this beautiful continent through Mia Kora work and passion where art meets fashion.

Mia kora is a range of luxury scarves and shawls centered around the concept of bringing art into your everyday lives. Artwork and designs originally done by priya shah, mia kora now has a portfolio of artists joining the team to help create an art inspired fashion trend!
The team has expanded now to 25 graphic designers working in house, agents in Africa and Australia, collaborations with various design companies who share our passion for conservation and a great team on the factory floor who help bring Mia Kora designs to life.

I’m honoured and humbled at the impact this map has had, and how it has evoked a range of strong opinions. This map was born during lock down. It was created as a mood board to inspire my next collection based on my love of African textiles and patterns.

It took time to evolve, and I was constantly editing images until it was aesthetically pleasing and showed a range of fabrics. The map is a visual representation of the richness and beauty of African fabrics. It is an artistic reflection. Art sees no political boundaries, cast, religion or gender. Art in its truest form speaks across all barriers and lines. The map’s aim is to spread positivity and joy.
My dearest hope, as an African, is that this map raises worldwide appreciation and acknowledgment of African textiles and its high standing in influencing fashion and art.

Mia Kora Conservation

As life itself has been the very source of inspiration for Mia Kora’s collections, they have joined the worldwide movement to protect Africa’s elephants. By wearing one of Mia Kora ‘iconic elephants’ scarves, come together with them towards this cause.

Their latest collection is a tribute to the conservation efforts of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Alongside the other Artists who support this cause, they have designed scarves and shawls that are not only starting a new trend, but have a purpose. Mia Kora is also proud to be associated with Ol Pejeta Conservancy, helping raise funds through our scarves and paintings.

Content courtesy of Mia Kora 

Sarah Diouf

Prior to launching Tongoro, Sarah Diouf had already stepped foot into the fashion industry with Ghubar, a fashion, arts and culture magazine promoting diversity and

creativity from the Arabic and African world she launched in 2009. Her work with the publication sparked the interest of multiple brands, which led her to launch her own visual production agency under her company Ifren Media Group, housing all her media activities.

Over the past years, Sarah has been observing the African fashion market and saw a gap that she thought she could fill while most African brands are positioning themselves as luxury, I wanted to come up with something more accessible for people to experience the Made in Africa, and change their mind about the quality issues often associated to it.

Her latest venture, Tongoro is a 100% Made In Africa online label providing clothing that offer style conscious consumers quality, variety and convenience, at affordable prices.


By sourcing materials on the continent and working with local tailors, the brand long-term goal is to contribute to the development of the retail production in Western Africa, opening a production facility in Dakar, Senegal.

Content courtesy of  State of Education in Africa & Tongoro

Kim Kardashian Slammed for Describing Black Face Mask on African-American Woman as ‘Nude

The reality star promoted her new line of face masks on Twitter, describing them as coming in “5 shades of Nudes,” but one of those five colors is solid black, described as “onyx” on the SKIMS website.

Kim Kardashian may have been trying to be fashion-forward with her new line of face masks, but many see the reality star as taking at least two steps backward in describing a solid black face mask on an African-American model as “nude.”

The masks do indeed come in five different shades, with four of them arguably coming close to various skin tones (described on her website as sand, clay, sienna and cocoa). But the last one, described as onyx on the website, certainly appears to be solid black.

This would be fine if she had described them as face masks in various shades or colors, as she did elsewhere, but it was her choice of the word “nude” in this particular tweet — and the fact that she chose a black model to highlight the “onyx” mask — that raised eyebrows and outrage online.

On her website, there is a white model wearing the “onyx” mask, and on Instagram she described the masks plainly as coming in “5 colors.” It was when she shifted to Twitter that she caught ire for a post that is still up after two days.

She followed that tweet with another promoting the masks, using more generic terms, and then another touting that they had sold out already and are being produced as quickly as possible to get them back in stock (they are still out of stock as of this writing).

She has since moved on to promoting her “summer mesh” line, which also comes in “onyx” shade. But this time, Kim is modeling the pieces herself and there is no mention of nude.

It’s certainly possible that the whole thing was a simple mistake on Kim’s part, who didn’t fully realize what she was saying with that word, but many online see it as an example of “casual racism,” and one that Kim should know better about considering her husband and children are black.

Is she even aware of the outcry? The “nude” term was used on her personal Twitter feed to promote the SKIMS line, and that tweet was retweeted by the official SKIMS account.

Both tweets are still active and both are filled with comments about how offensive they are. None of the comments have been responded to in any official capacity. TooFab has reached out to representatives for Kim Kardashian for comment.

This isn’t Kim’s first time courting controversy for perceived racism with her SKIMS line. The line’s very name was originally envisioned as Kimono, before calls of cultural insensitivity and appropriation saw the reality star shift to the SKIMS name.

Controversies aside, the new line of face masks reportedly sold out in less than 30 minutes. At the same time, Kim announced that her company was donating 10,000 of their masks to four different charities: Baby2Baby, Good+ Foundation, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and National Domestic Workers Alliance.

This article originally appeared on Toofab 

Moroccan designer Anwar Bougroug launched a mentorship program to support young African creatives

Moroccan-Norweigan designer Anwar Bougroug launched his eponymous unisex label a little over four years ago with a focus on traditional Moroccan handcraft. His creations went on to capture the attention of prestigious publications, securing him a spot on Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 class of 2020.

Today, the designer is launching a new initiative called Bougroug Youth Mentorship Program, which will help move the African fashion industry further into the future by nurturing emerging labels from the continent amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was hearing from a lot of young creatives that they were really struggling to keep their motivation up and make ends meet,” shared Bougroug with Arab News of his decision to launch the program.

“Since I launched my own fashion brand, many young people in Morocco reached out to me and told me they wanted to do the same,” explained Bougroug.  “So I saw an opportunity to help these people reach their dreams,” he added.

Initially, the program was exclusive to Morocco’s creative community, however, within hours, the designer began receiving applications from designers, photographers, stylists and models from countries scattered across Africa, including Sudan, South-Africa, Ghana and Botswana.

“I decided to open the program for everyone that could really benefit from it, no matter where they are located in the world,” he explained.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social-distancing measures in place, the mentorship scheme will kick off with gatherings on social chatting application Zoom where Bougroug will offer guidance on opportunities, help them refine their ideas and projects and provide uplifting career advice.

Afterwards, the designer aims to meet with young designers based in Morocco face-to-face and travel to any of the countries where the participants live if and whenever travel restrictions are lifted.

With the new program, Bougroug aims to introduce 25 young African creatives to careers in the fashion industry and give them the tools to succeed in the industry.

“Africa has so much potential to further develop its fashion industry,” notes Bougroug. “People in Africa are extremely skilled and creative.

What is missing is the voice that tells people to go after their dreams. By giving young people a chance, they will develop their skill sets and the industry will start to take shape and we will eventually have a healthy industry and ecosystem similar to the ones we see for instance in Europe,” he says.

Those who wish to apply can send an email to mentor@bougroug.com.

This article originally appeared on Arab News 

Rihanna Releases New Fenty Eyewear 2020 Campaign

Fashion house FENTY presented new Release 5-20 Eyewear collection for the Summer 2020. The collection features 3 new styles in 5 different colors the Off Record, the Classified and the Coded Sunglasses.

Fashion photographer Arnaud Lajeunie captured FENTY Release 5-20‘s campaign starring the stunning Mame Anta Wade. In charge of styling was Jahleel Weaver, with beauty from makeup artist Anthony Preel.

“I mean… sheesh!!!” is how Rihanna described her new Fenty sunglasses. Sheesh is one word for the three new eyewear styles, which the brand founder has created “to suit every high, low and incognito mood of summer”. Other suitable adjectives include, but are certainly not limited to: retro, technicolour, and one hundred per cent bad gal.

In @badgalriri’s world, a #WFHFit consists of a hoodie and some seriously cool shades. Thank goodness the eyewear is part of Fenty’s latest drop, available from today, which features a modern update on the cat’s eye in eye-popping colours like candy pink, acid lime and blue tortoise.

Rihanna debuted her Jet Black Coded shades during a lockdown shoot that brought high-fashion drama to her Instagram feed. Inspired by vintage silhouettes, the rectangular frames with subtle cat-eye shape are also available in Milky Way with matching coloured lenses.

This week, RiRi posted a selfie of her Acid Green Off Record sunnies  Fenty’s most vibrant eyewear yet, designed to “deliver ultimate summer vibes”.

The ’80s frames with animal print temples also come in Candy Pink and Cosmic Blue for “a summer of camera-ready digital fun”. Like the Coded pair, they retail for £280 at Fenty.com

If you can’t see yourself papping Insta pics in these classic-with-a-Rih-twist styles, Fenty is releasing a third futuristic pair in June. The Classified model has a “dramatic silhouette” with similar accents to the previous Blockt and Antisocial frames, and comes in Black Gold and Rose Havana for “an air of old school glamour and mid-summer romance”, according to the brand.

Rihanna – Designer
Arnaud Lajeunie – Photographer
Jahleel Weaver – Fashion Editor/Stylist
Anthony Preel – Makeup Artist

Content courtesy of Models 

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