A Celebration of Africanness
What Went Down At The African Fashion And Arts Movement Fashion Week Vancouver (Afam Afwv)2020
African Fashion is said to be an experience- an experience beyond an exhibition that invites everyone in.
The vibrant colors pull you in and the designs leave you enthralled. The cultural diversity embedded in rich cultural heritage and African stories, solidifies the experience. AFAM sees that this happens.
While some events are better experienced than spoken about, we decided to paint a colorful memoir of that day. We hope that, with this in mind, you would live vivaciously through our own eyes and plan for AFWV 2022
The African Fashion and Arts Movement is the largest African Fashion and Trade exhibition in British Columbia.
It was founded in 2018 by Yao Zeus Mohammed. The show has provided a plethora of opportunities for emerging designers, models, entrepreneurs and various talents in the creative media. As a matter of fact, it hosts the African Fashion Week annually, during Black History Month, which is February. The AFWV plays host to diverse designers and exhibitors from Africa, Europe and other parts of the world. Talents come together to showcase the true collaboration of arts in its truest form LIVE. It is both a celebration and a movement. We seek to celebrate African heritage, its many unique talents and designs. We strive to intricately break barriers and take up space in the fashion world.
AFAM is a movement and in movements, all and sundry are carried along. We do not strut alone. So when these rich African prints and designs walk the runway, howbeit, in majestic style, you are invited to come along. You’re invited to be involved, take a dive and fully participate in the African experience.
Colors in rainy Vancouver
On the 15th day of February, 2020 all roads led the Pinnacle Hotel in North Vancouver for the AFAM Fashion Week Vancouver 2020. Though in the middle of the rains, the AFAM fashion week chased the blues away by ushering in the most colorful event of the evening. Event kicked off at about 4:00pm with the Red carpet session, followed by electric performances of music and dance, arts and the best of African tapestry.
The night promised two-action packed fashion shows; Experience African Fashion and African Fashion Extravaganza and delivered on every word. Nothing was left to chance at this exhibition. The designers and artists delivered their masterpieces so elegantly.
There were a total of thirteen brand collections and thirteen performances of the night with numerous statement pieces and even grander headlines.
African fashion is difficult to not look at. It is a sight worth seeing. If there were Eight Wonders of the World, the eighth would definitely be a fine African print. You haven’t truly lived if you have not rocked an African outfit. It is colorful, versatile, trendy, and bright, bolsters joyful emotions and leaves you looking your best.
First of the night was the welcome speech by Yao Mohammed, founder of AFAM Vancouver. After which, the runway was lit up by various designers, their collections; artists, their pieces; music and dance performances.
In attendance for display were designs from (in no particular order) V-love design, Hogan’s Alley by Fisayo Ogundare, Red Soil, Kafui designs, Lu Christ Modern Fashion, Exotique Couture, Kali Works, Sleepless Minds Fashion, Udamma Fashion by Emmanuel Okee, Kyn Apparel by Alethe Kabore, Esther Ruth designs, Yasaman Hoorfar and last but not the least, Mawogan Fashion by Yao Mohammed.
THE SUMMIT OF ‘AFRICANNESS’
Red Soil collection of ten looks showed how versatile African prints could be when it came to accessorizing. This collection modeled how these accessories could complement a western original like for example, suit jackets. Red soil showed us African prints as ties, pocket squares, cufflinks and more.
Kafui design infused plain fabrics and print fabrics together to achieve western styles in their thirteen-look collection.
Lu Christ Modern Fashion twenty looks collection took embroidery designs to another level. These designs looked like what a Nigerian, Yoruba man would have on his ‘Agbada’ but in this collection, plain and comfortable shirts were given an elevation with the embroidery designs. There were flared mini-skirts designs worn with sweetheart neckline, sleeveless tops which truly reflected the Modern in the name of the collection.
Sleepless Minds Fashion displayed seventeen looks that were truly a “dreaming with your eyes open” experience like the brand promised. Dreams do come through and just like this one, it was made real before our very own eyes.
Esther Ruth’s collection screamed top-notch elegance. Her collection revealed degree of possibilities most would not have thought possible with African fabrics and designs. Body size did not matter as Esther showed off her designs on models of various sizes. Fits in this collection could be worn to industry dinners, award shows, performances, concerts, parties… the list goes on.
Yasaman Hoorfar’s eight looks collection reflected a bit of monochrome designs. For a fashion lover who wants to try African designs but isn’t a fan of many colors, Yasaman’s collection gives you a glimpse into what it would look like. Another highlight from this collection was the multi-tiered dress that had the colors of Christmas tree. Then,of course, the dresses with low-back cut designs.
Udamma fashion is a collection of fifteen looks by young Nigerian, Emmanuel Okee that started in 2017. His brand was inspired by his mum and the Nigerian prints he saw when he visited his country of origin. Emmanuel Okee sought fabrics that would translate to western fashion in style, in hopes that African fashion would become high fashion and transcend the runway into the streets for everyone to access.
Owner of Kyn Apparel and award recipient of the night for the Fashion designer of the Year Award – Alethe Kabore displayed her collection. Alethe is a self-taught designer and seamstress from Burkina Faso in West Africa. Her collection ranged from beautiful Kimonos to gowns and even collared shirts for men. She expresses that through her work, she hopes to incorporate African designs into Canadian and international fashion. A stunning piece in her collection was the belted top in bold print layered on top of a simple black dress. This piece truly embodied her mandate to galvanize African and western fashion.
Hogan’s Alley by Fisayo Ogundare
Fisayo’s collection of seventeen looks had a main theme of ‘unity’ about it. He, through his collection, sought to break the barrier of cultural appropriation. Fisayo roots his brand deep in his culture by attaching culturally significant names to fabrics he uses. If it has regal overtones, or exudes authority, he calls it ‘ALAAFIN’ which is the name given to A king in old Oyo town in Nigeria. Beyond clothes, Fisayo seeks to share stories. His collection of colorful, bold jackets for men came with a different vibeoir that our identity as Africans, need not cower in other geographies.
V-love design collection of nineteen looks was the definition of ‘go big or go home”. The entire ensemble was met by a huge applause on the runway as the audience thought it was wonderful. The jubilant prints were cut in lovely silhouettes, the joyous embellishments to sporty shapes was an impeccable sight to see. The red and yellows hues dipped in sunshine designs were absolutely lovely.
Yao’s collection, Mawogan fashion, brought an unending supply of western vibes to African prints. The halter- neck dresses, high slits, cold shoulders, crop tops and capes showed versatility, high street fashion yet ‘out the runway and into the street’ type.
His collection was made up of designs sewn in the Western nation on the Gulf of Guinea, Togo and he named it “Roselyn” after his own mother.
Yao enthused that his designs are inspired by the joy and brightness in the fabrics his ancestors chose to make their own.
ALL WE DO IS WIN
In addition to the runway showcase, another attraction of the night was the AFAM Awards show. A total of fourteen awards were given to various award nominee Winners from designers, models, entrepreneurs, to performers, makeup artists who have made notable impact within the year.
Outstanding Volunteer award of the Year went to Jan Chadburn for his notable service to AFAM; Dami Aremu bagged the Make-up artist of the Year Award. Special recognition was given to Vanessa Egharevba, who expertly coordinated and mentored the runway models to improve the show’s experience and quality. Yasin M Kiraga clutched the Cultural Ambassador Award.
Next, DJ Vinnie Bugatti musically obtained the African DJ of the Year award while Sarah Eke gracefully bagged the Fashion Blogger/Influencer of the Year Award. Community Impact Award went to TK Ajayi and the Sinbirds won the best dancer/group award of the year. For Fashion Photographer of the Year, Micheal Oyaro captured the award with beaming smiles.
Indeed, no one brings a design to life than the models that strut in them. So when Precious Iyalla won the Male Model of the Year Award and Elma Kemunto won the Female Model of the Year Award, it was a winning catwalk. Not to mention that, for the art categories, the best female artist of the year went to Sade Awale while in the male category, Rkayy won. A huge congratulation to all awardees on their well deserved win.
Find out how you can nominate and vote for your favorite creatives for AFWS 2022 Awards, visit ( afwv.ca/awards)
ALL IS WELL THAT ENDS WELL
To crown the evening, there was more music by DJ Fady, dance performances by Mawu dance, more art exhibitions, laughter, networking and a ton of good vibes. Yao Mohammed closed the evening with a vote of thanks. It was truly a wholesome celebration of African heritage.