This Day/Arise African Fashion Collective FW09

Image: Tatiana Smith

Of all the shows this season, this is the only one that I had been craving. Fresh from Guinea, I was still reminiscing about the warm colors, thunderous rhythm, and vibrant textures that signified the Motherland. I was not let down. This show, featuring four rising African fashion stars– Xuly.Bet by Lamine Badian Kouyaté, Tiffany Amber by Folake Folarin-Coker, Stoned Cherrie by Nkhensani Nkosi, and Momo by Fati Asibelua– was Africa’s drum call to the fashion world. Pix, Commentary, and Exclusive Video.

The show got off to a pounding start, with Grace Jones summoning the audience with her audacious glare and voice on a digital screen that set the stage for the show, and reflected off of the slick, mirrored runway. Xuly Bet, a designer from Mali began the presentation. His pieces were a mixture of bondage-like pleather, sumptuous wools, and color-rich fabrics. Very rock and roll, but distinctly African.

Watch the Xuly Bet Presentation

With Grace. Jone’s strikes an ominous look at us as she storms the runway in a Xuly.Bet creation.
Image: NY Post

Following Bet’s collection was Nigeria’s Tiffany Amber, whose show emphasized the synthesis of the African living stylishly in the city- whether it be New York, Paris, London, or Milan. The crowd, already energized from Grace Jones’ surprise appearance was, by this time, visibly dancing in their seats. The pounding vibrations of the beat and it’s message were hard to ignore. Amber’s surprising take on rich embroidered textiles was refreshing, playful, and modern. I loved the explosion of color in her youthful shift dresses that occasionally gave a wink to tradition African textile.

Watch the Tiffany Amber Presentation

Stoned Cherrie‘s tribute to Miriam Makeba had viewers singing in their seats. Her pieces were pumped with color, and featured wonderfully crafted jacquard coats, cigarette pants and funky but functional pencil skirts. Very feminine, flowing, and exciting to watch from the first whispy blouson sleeved shirt, to the graceful ombré dress worn on Alex Wek.

Watch The Stoned Cherrie Presentation

Alek Wek wears a Stoned Cherrie chiffon dress
Image: NY Post

I was disappointed by Momo’s collection. Not because of any technical aspects of the clothing, but just because her pieces seemed rather dull. After being oversexed with all the color, embroidery, and boldness of the previous three presentations, Momo’s showing was a quieter, more subdued response. Thick mono-toned wools were a theme in her showing, with occasional splashes of animal print. But most shocking to the audience was her selection of models. Many were rail thin, and as they slinked, pale and half-dead-looking down the runway, many of us couldn’t understand the correlation between these stick-thin models and the robust, vibrant, living creatures that represent Africa.

Momo: Well designed, but a little boring.

An unexpected surprise at the end of the show: The Xuly Bet tshirt Obama dresses.
Image: NY Post

After the Show:

Whatever girl.

The afterparty was held at the Plaza hotel. I was honestly tired after viewing the shows that night (I had gone to some others as well), so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to venture out. Luckily my friend convinced me to come and we met some pretty interesting folk. Ryan Leslie was in good spirits and attempted to hit the turntables, just as Solange hit the mike. While everyone bum-rushed the stage, I happily sat at my table, sipping my cosmo. She did her rockstar thing–whatever that was–while my friend and I continued eating, drinking, and chatting. You guys know I’m a Solo hater. Overall, it was a good party, and I was glad I went.

Watch Solange perform.



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1 Comment

  1. I cut my teeth as a fashion journalist writing for ThisDay. For 3 years I had a double page column called Tiger Bites that inspired me to start my blog! Great to see them moving onwards and upwards.

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