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 • Fashion  • Arise Fashion Week 2019: Runway Guide for the Basic Observer

Arise Fashion Week 2019: Runway Guide for the Basic Observer

… Because let’s be honest, this is the article we all want to read. We had some time to recover, but we are still so far away from recovery. You can’t blame us, Arise Fashion Week is arguably the biggest fashion event to hit the African continent, and I am here for all of it. The premise of Arise Fashion Week is to provide an international platform to promote and showcase the work of African designers, while also securing the continent’s place and solidifying its influence on fashion. It was an opportunity for emerging designers and household names to share a space and display their artistry and originality, and boy, did they bring it? From the bold looks, to the fabrics and textures, to the colours and the production, the time and effort and planning put into the presentations and designs was tangible, and honestly, I was totally blown away.

Handclap FOR THE CULTURE because initiatives like this are particularly relevant and needed in the climate where pillar fashion houses like Dior, have perfected the art of tokenism, especially as a way to ward off the ever-evolving cultural appropriation conversation.

Arise Fashion Week was particularly exciting this year because fashion powerhouses, supermodel, Naomi Campbell and British Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Edward Enninful attended the shows. Naomi did her damn thing on the runway for LVMH prize nominee and standout talent in the Nigerian fashion scene, Kenneth Ize and king of tailoring suits to the fashion gods, Mai Atafo. The newer kids on the block, Mowalola, Maison Artc, led by standout talent, Kenneth Ize were intentional in their creative decisions to break molds and dismantle cultural stereotypes.

And yes, I know exactly what you are thinking… yes, yes, this is all super exciting and trés cool, but again, but what does this mean for little old me? Well… it means everything and nothing at the same time. I mean, technically, if you are not a buyer, editor, trend forecaster or influencer, it means nothing. However, if you are a fashion explorer or enthusiast like me, which I hope you are, then it could mean everything, an endless source of inspiration, and the promise of a budding fashion scene on the African continent, something the part of me that secretly hopes she ends up in Nigeria finds weirdly comforting.

Fashion shows used to be an element of high culture, reserved exclusively for the incredibly wealthy and then it involved and began to include prominent voices in fashion. However,  with the recent rise of influencers and the need for accountability, designers’ use them as a way to give the illusion of more accessibility, to gain points with average Joes like me, even though they make pieces clearly geared towards a very specific crowd. In my mind, this is what makes Arise Fashion Week different from any of the other more critically acclaimed and accepted Fashion weeks. Arise Fashion Week is different because it is more of a celebration and a conscious decision to applaud local talent. It is a decision to put community over competition, but not in a patronizing way, in a way that is conscious of the fact that African designers do not get the recognition they deserve, not because of a lack of talent or substance but because of a lack of infrastructure and a solid platform.