Designer Joy Ijeoma Meribe opened Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday with her debut runway collection, a concrete success for a movement to promote diversity in Italian fashion just a year after launching
MILAN — Nigeria-born designer Joy Ijeoma Meribe opened Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday with her debut runway collection, a concrete success for a movement to promote diversity in Italian fashion just a year after launching.
The Italian National Fashion Chamber tapped Meribe to open six days of womenswear previews for Spring-Summer 2022 after her inaugural collection for the “We Are Made in Italy” initiative last year found commercial success.
“Beyond whatever video, proclamation, or manifesto that we make, the real test is whether clients buy your products. Joy passed that exam,’’ said Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean, who helped launch the initiative in the summer of 2020, asking the question, “Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?” inspired by the U.S. movement and following racists gaffes by major Italian fashion houses.
“It wouldn’t have been so quick if there wasn’t an acceleration from the United States,’’ said Jean, who basked in the early success in the front row alongside Italy-based U.S.-born designer Edward Buchanan and Afro Fashion Week Milano founder Michelle Ngonmo.
Meribe broke down in tears after the show as she thanked the fashion chamber and the movement’s founders for getting her to the runway.
The collection featured tiered and ruffled skirts and jackets with built-in capes that were both regal, as seen in an off-shoulder dress sweeping the ground, and hip, including a mini day-dresses and shoulder-baring tunic. Textiles were an explosion of bright yellow against sky blue, with tropic prints featuring thatched cottages against flourishing banana trees, which Meribe said was meant to celebrate a return to more normality.
“We have passed from a dark moment, and I wanted to create something full of hope and light, the joy of restarting,’’ she said backstage.
The initiative that launched Meribe opened its second edition this fashion week, an all-female group of designers working in Italy with roots in Togo, Morocco, Haiti, Cuba, and India, following last year’s “Fab Five” inaugural class of all African-born designers.
“There is a movement happening,’’ said Buchanan, the American designer behind the Sansovino 6 label. “Of course everything takes time, but it takes somehow an industry to get used to the idea that these are talents like any other.”
To point, they have created a database of more than 3,000 fashion professionals with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds living in Italy, including designers, merchandisers, photographers, and stylists, with the aim of putting to rest the notion that diverse talents weren’t available in Italy.
But even while marking progress on diversity being made in the industry, organizers said that a racist incident at a four-star hotel in Milan aimed at this year’s “Fab Five” underlined the work still ahead.
Ngonmo said that she was checking into the hotel with the five women when the desk clerks rudely dismissed routine requests by paying guests, indicating that they didn’t belong there. She posted the incident on social media and later spoke with management, who apologized and fired the two workers responsible.
“We’re inverting the trend compared to the last couple of [mainly digital] editions, which is something that gives us a powerful injection of energy in this moment,” said Capasa.
The schedule features 42 IRL shows out of 65 in total. For instance, Roberto Cavalli, under the creative direction of Fausto Puglisi; Moncler, and Boss, the sister collection of Hugo Boss, are returning to the calendar and set to host physical events. For the first time, brands such as MM6 Maison Margiela, HUI, and Vitelli will stage runway shows in Milan.
Prada, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Missoni, Salvatore Ferragamo, Marni, Max Mara, Jil Sander, Alberta Ferretti, Etro, and MSGM are among the established names slated to present their collections in-person, while Emilio Pucci, Dsquared2, Antonio Marras, GCDS, and Philipp Plein are some of the brands sticking to the digital format this season.
As reported, Gucci will head to Los Angeles to present its next collection on Nov. 2, coinciding with the LACMA Art+Film Gala taking place on Nov. 6, for which the fashion house is the founding and presenting sponsor. Yet the brand will host a special event dubbed “Vault” during Milan Fashion Week, the details of which are still under wraps.
Moschino and Bottega Veneta are missing from the Italian schedule as the former will showcase its women’s spring 2022 collection as part of New York Fashion Week, while the latter, after decamping to London and Berlin, will stage a show in Detroit on Oct. 21.
In addition to Gucci, other events on the Milanese calendar will include the “The Way We Are” exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Emporio Armani brand and to be staged at the Armani Silos venue, as well as cocktail parties celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pomellato’s “Nudo” collection, the 50-year career of Chiara Boni and the 60th anniversary of the Marcolin eyewear company.
As for the annual “Green Carpets Fashion Awards,” this year Camera Della Moda will forgo the event that traditionally wrapped the city’s fashion week in September. Having ended the collaboration with Livia Firth and the Eco-Age agency, the Italian fashion chamber will reprise the event next year under the new name, “CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards.” More details will be unveiled on Sept. 22, when the organization will host an event, but Capasa said that the concept will remain the same and continue to acknowledge the work of those who stand out for their application of sustainability principles in fashion.
Shows at Milan Fashion Week will officially kick off on Sept. 22 with the We Are Made in Italy (Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion Collective) digital presentation, offering five new talents who are people of color the chance to display their collections in a video filmed by Antonio Dikele DiStefano, the writer, and filmmaker behind the Netflix series “Zero.”
The Milan schedule will also mark the debut on the official calendar of labels including Colville, Andreadamo, Defiance by Nicola Bacchilega, Roberto Di Stefano, Iuri, Traffico, Radica Studio, and Airin Tribal, among others.
All physical events will be accessible upon the showing of the “Green Pass” as per the Italian government’s decision. The pass enables citizens to enter schools, bars, restaurants, cinemas, and other indoor venues by certifying they have been vaccinated, read negative to a test, or recovered from COVID-19 in the previous six months.
Capasa himself strongly appealed to everyone to get vaccinated as “this is the only weapon we have against the virus” and underscored the beneficial effects the vaccination campaign had on the economy since the Italian fashion industry’s sales significantly rebounded in the first half of 2021, registering a 24 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
Projections for sales generated by the fashion industry and categories such as jewelry, beauty, and eyewear combined show 20.9 percent growth to 83.1 billion euros in 2021 compared to the 68.8 billion euros in 2020. In 2019, sales generated by those industries were 90.2 billion euros, so the positive projection elaborated by Camera Della Moda would still not mark a return to the pre-COVID-19 level.
“If the Christmas holiday season and relative sales will go well and this projection is confirmed, we would recover 15 billion euros out of the over 22.5 billion euros we lost last year. We wouldn’t make up for all the losses but we aim to recover the rest in 2022, if not even grow next year. I think there’s great attention on Italian fashion right now, and data on our export performance confirm this,” said Capasa.
Exports are expected to increase 24.5 percent to almost 70 billion euros by the end of 2021 compared to the previous year.
In the first five months of the year, exports of Italian fashion goods grew 27.6 percent. Top destinations included Switzerland, France, Germany as well as the U.S., and China, where exports were up 31.9 percent and 93.9 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year.
As for Milan Fashion Week’s attendance, Capasa said that European and American buyers and members of the press are expected, while fashion operators from China won’t be present due to travel limitations.
The international appeal of the event will be boosted by many initiatives Camera Della Moda has included in the schedule.
These comprise the sixth edition of “Budapest Select,” spotlighting four Hungarian brands, and the first effort of the “Fashion Bridges” project it launched with South African institutions and South African Fashion Week earlier this year. Four former students of Polimoda were paired with young designers of the SAFW to develop capsule collections that will be unveiled during Milan Fashion Week, before traveling to Johannesburg Fashion Week at the end of October.
To further support young talents, the seventh edition of Milano Moda Graduate will showcase nine talents hailing from different Italian fashion schools, while emerging brands Amotea, Des Phemmes, Federico Cina, Froy, and Traffico will be promoted at Rinascente as part of the “Milano Fashionable Project” initiative developed by the retailer with Camera Della Moda.
MILAN – Five designers of African origin making their runway debuts opened Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday under the banner “We are Made in Italy,” having nurtured dreams deemed fanciful in their native countries and which faced considerable obstacles coming to fruition in their adopted Italy.
Joy Meribe, who is originally from Nigeria, started out working in Italy as a cultural mediator. Fabiola Manirakiza came to Italy as a child from Burundi and first trained as a doctor.
Morocco-born Karim Daoudi grew up in a shoe-making town in northern Italy and eventually took up the local craft. Pape Macodou Fall arrived from Senegal at age 22, applying his creative streak as an actor, film producer, figurative painter and now, as a designer of up-cycled garments.
Just one of the five, Cameroonian Gisele Claudia Ntsama, set her sights on Italy with the singular, already mature goal of a fashion career.
“When I told friends in Cameroon that I wanted to travel to Italy to become a fashion designer, they said, ‘Why are you going to study fashion. You know you are Black? What Italian fashion house is going to hire you?’” Ntsama said in a video chat with The Associated Press. “It is always in people’s minds that fashion is for white people. No and no and no!”
The designers, dubbed “the Fab Five,” are the first crop of creators nurtured through a collaboration between the National Chamber of Italian Fashion and the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion movement. Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean, Milan-based African American designer Edward Buchanan and Afro Fashion Week Milano founder Michelle Ngonmo launched the movement last summer..
The collaboration has expanded from September, when the Fab Five’s collections hung in a showroom, to a bona fide runway show of five looks each for Milan Fashion Week, which is taking place 99% online.
For their fall-winter 2020-21 collections, the designers worked alongside suppliers and received mentoring from experts, all organized by the Italian fashion council, in an enhanced partnership that allowed them to take their creations to the next level.
A multi-ethnic team of stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists were on hand to prep for the runway show, and buyers can visit the collection on the National Chamber of Italian Fashion website.
Meribe worked with silk from the Como-based textile company Taroni, revisiting some of her earlier designs for her Modaf Designs brand that she has traditionally made from cotton renderings of traditional African wax textiles. Buchanan helped with fitting and encouraged Meribe to change ideas at the last minute without being too rigid,’ she said.’
“This collection is the most luxurious I have ever created. For this capsule collection, I went beyond every possibility,’’ Meribe said.
Daoudi worked with Veneto shoemaker Ballin, which produces footwear for Bottega Veneta, Chanel and Hermes, to create his collection of high heel sandals and boots. He said the association helped him produce more challenging designs.
“I hope that there are buyers,’’ he said, adding that the producer plans to help him fill any orders he receives.
Ntsama added knitwear to her distinctive swirling creations from hemp textiles. The artisanal looks are one-of-a-kind pieces fit for the celebrity red carpet and require hours of handcraftsmanship: She shapes the hemp with a kitchen utensil she prefers not to identify and irons it into place.
Fall, whose nom de artiste is Mokodu, took existing garments and upcycled them with hand-painted African-inspired images.
Manirakiza, whose Frida Kiza brand already has a following in the Marche region of Italy where she lives and in Rome, needed no outside financing for her collection inspired by Botticelli’s “Primavera,” which she intended as a sign of hope after the pandemic.
A babydoll dress with a gathered neckline and cape details is crafted from a black and white print of “Primavera” that emphasized the masterpiece’s floral elements. Manirakiza said staging a runway show was “a wonderful experience” that she hopes will help expand her brand.
Ngonmo established Afro Fashion Week Milano on her own after failing to get the attention of the industry before the Black Lives Matter movement inspired Black Italian creatives to draw attention to the limits they face. She said it was particularly important that the fashion world didn’t just stop with slotting the names of African-born designers into the fashion calendar, but gave them material support to grow.
“This has to have deeper roots. If we want to have true change, we need to offer the same opportunities that their colleagues have had, give them the same instruments and experiences,’’ Ngonmo said. “Let’s say this is a good first step.”
The fashion industry provides the world with a full calendar of fashion show events from across the world. From runway shows to trade shows, the fashion world knows how to keep busy. But which events are not to be missed? As most things in the world, not all fashion events are created equal. Some events just top the hot list year after year.
Here is a list of the top ten annual fashion events to attend, or at least dream of attending don’t forget to add them your bucket list.
1. Paris Fashion Week
The greatest of all fashion shows, it is one of the most celebrated fashion weeks held in bi-annually in Paris one of the four fashion capitals of the world. The event is held to showcase Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter collections at the respective times of each year. Many of the notables in the fashion industry, as well as the well-known connoisseurs of fashion attend the event to view the designs.
Some of the famous designers who place their latest creations on display include Dior, Paul Smith, Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci, Lanvin, Julien David, Barbara Bui, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Valentino, Miu Miu
2. New York Fashion Week
New York Fashion Week is a biannual event which occurs in February and September of each in New York, one of the primary fashion capitals around the globe. The New York Fashion Week event is considered to be among the four major fashion weeks in the world next to London, Milan, and Paris.
The event is attended by some of the biggest fashion names in the industry including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Dianne von Furstenberg, Tommy Hilfiger, Herve Leger, Brooks Brothers, Alexander Wang, and many more. It was established in the early 1940s and was the first fashion event across the world. The purpose of the event is showcase American fashions which ordinarily play a secondary role to French designs.
3. Milan Fashion Week
Milan Fashion Week (Italian: Settimana della moda) is a clothing trade show held semi-annually in Milan, Italy. The autumn/winter event is held in February/March of each year, and thespring/summer event is held in September/October of each year. An event of glitz and glamour in Milan, Italy among the big Four Fashion Capitals around the world, the Milan Fashion Week occurs bi-annually like its counterparts every year.
It is scheduled in the months of February-March for the Spring Summer Collection and September- October for the Autumn Winter Collection. It begun in the year 1958 and since has been counted as one of the most illustrious shows the world over. Prestigious fashion houses are part of this event which includes Dolce & Gabanna, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, and Prada among others.
4. London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week is one of the primary four fashion week events around the globe which takes place bi- annually during February and September. The event showcases the latest trends and designs in womenswear and is attended by top designers and fashion houses in the industry who flock to the event to exhibit their latest creations.
It was launched in the early 1980s and is organised by the British Fashion Council discussed earlier.
Some of the designer fashions on exhibit include Antonio Berardi, Alexander White, Burberry, Beth Gilmour, Christopher Kane, Claire Barrow, David Koma, Eudon Choi, Erdem, Finlay & Co., Giles, Holly Fulton, Jasper Conran, Kevin Geddes, Lucilla Gray, Margaret Howell, Noel Stewart, Osman, Simone Rocha, Vivienne Westwood, and many more.
5. Berlin Fashion Week
Berlin Fashion Week is a relatively new event which takes place at Brandbenburg Gate each year during the months of January and July. The event was initiated in 2007 with the purpose of showcasing up and coming designer’s creations. Berlin Fashion Week is a collaborative effort of the Berlin Senate and the Berlin Partner GmbH, the central contact agency for overseeing new operations and foreign trade to promote Berlin as a business hub. The event is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz which also sponsors a series of other fashion industry events.
Since the establishment of the Berlin Fashion Week event almost a decade ago, the event has gained international status for many new and upcoming designers. The designers are bringing their fashions to the Berlin capital in an effort to get started on their way in the highly competitive fashion industry. Attendees can view fashions from designers such as Dorothee Schumacher, Ewa Herzog, Fyodor Golan, Emre Ernemoglu, and more.
6. Australian Fashion Week
The Australian Fashion Week is an annual event held in the country which aims to feature the works of fashion houses and designers from the Australian and Asia Pacific regions. It was first held in the year 1995. This event brings the designers and the retail buyers under one roof and helps the latter to purchase the latest in fashion from them.
Some of the noted Fashion names associated with this event include Lisa Ho, Alex Perry, Zimmermann, Toni Maticevski, Leona Edmiston, J’Aton Couture, Ericaamerica and more.
7. Dubai Shopping Festival
Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) started on 16 February 1996 as a retail event intended to benefit retail trade in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has since been promoted as a tourist attraction.It is an annual month-long event, usually scheduled during the first quarter of the year, and attracts about 3 million people to Dubai.
Over the 30 day period, visitors have access to the best fashion brands from around the world with special deals and promotions, in addition to attending a variety of arts and cultural events. The events take place in the Mall of the Emirates and include The International Festival of Fashion Photography from Cannes which is an extraordinary showcase of the latest beauty and fashion photography in large format by notable fashion photographers.
You can also experience events such as The Diamond Fashion Show by Dhamani which features notable jewellery designers who showcase their exquisite designs against a sparkling Burj Khalifa backdrop. The Dubai Shopping Festival website is a great place to discover more interesting fashion events during this annual extravaganza.
8. Tokyo Fashion Week
The Japanese are known for excelling in whatever they do. Fashion is not an area where they are lagging in any respect. The Tokyo Fashion Week is an event which has steadily climbed up the charts of popularity over the years.
The styles and trends showcased are bold and often very experimental. Some of the most unusual fashion trends have come out into the world through the Tokyo Fashion Week and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this event slowly becomes one of the best in the industry.
9. Africa Fashion Week London
Founded in 2011 by Ronke Ademiluyi, Africa Fashion Week London ( AFWL ) is Europe’s largest fashion event promoting and nurturing African and African-inspired design talent ,with a collaborative catwalk, exhibition and business development program, AFWL has led the way in highlighting Africa’s emerging designers and apparel industry and has been at the forefront of bringing awareness of Africa’s burgeoning fashion industry to the international market.
Since 2011, AFWL has hosted 8 catwalk events and contributed expertise to at least 10 more events produced by 3rd parties such as The Mayor of London’s Black History Month celebrations, they have also showcased over 800 emerging designers & exhibitors, from Africa, Europe and America, to almost 70,000 visitors including buyers, retailers, influential industry professionals, and the media and is now a highlight on the annual fashion calendar.
AFWL brings value to designers through, contacts, experience and knowledge within the fashion community, with a core team made up of experienced fashion industry experts and business professionals, AFWL is committed to creating a platform for African and African inspired designers that not only showcases them to an international market, but also supports them in building a sustainable business that is globally recognized and promotes social change in Africa.
10. Los Angeles Fashion week
Los Angeles Fashion Week takes place twice, annually in numerous locations throughout the Los Angeles area. Currently, three event producers hold multiple day runway shows concurrent with Market Week (also known as LA Fashion Market).
While there are several productions that take place throughout the county of Los Angeles, a number of city officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and District 14 council member Jose Huizar, have awarded event organizers LAFW the official event status
CFDA Fashion Awards
The CFDA Fashion Awards, also known as the Fashion industry Oscars, this annual event recognizes individuals in the American Fashion Industry with awards for design excellence and extraordinary accomplishments in journalism and creative vision, according to the CFDA.
There is also a lifetime achievement given each year. But the highlight of this award show is of course the red carpet. Stars and industry people dress to impress in the best of high fashion. It is not only an event; it is a star studded runway show.
Fashion shows debut every season, particularly the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons,this is where the latest fashion trends are made.
Content courtesy of Nairobi fashion hub Digital Team