We are buzzing with excitement as Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) is just around the corner!! Find out what’s hot and trending in 2014 at this colourful cultural display of African fashion. Luckily, 17 year old business student and fashion enthusiast Naomi Michaels was able to provide us with a review of last years showcase (AFW2013)
This Friday, at Olympia London begins the three-day annual event of Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL). This event was created as a platform to celebrate all-round African-inspired fashion. Each day brings a new range of exciting catwalk shows, along with extravagant exhibition stalls where visitors are able to purchase some of the designs seen as well as other products (ranging from skincare to jewellery).
AFWL was founded in 2011 by Ronke Ademiuyi (CEO), and has made a name for itself throughword of mouth and has utilised social media and press as a way to inform people about the event.This time last year, I put myself forward to volunteer at AFWL. This experience allowed me to appreciate how much hard work is put in behind-the-scenes in order to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Here is a brief insight into my fabulous experience at the creative summer showcase…
I had been on study leave after completing my GCSEs and then had the whole summer to do as I please. As you can imagine I had a lot of free time. What better way to spend it by exploring my #1 interest – Fashion. Fashion has always been something that I have wanted to pursue a career in, so when I found that AFWL were looking for volunteers (via Twitter) – Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and signed up!
As a volunteer, my role required me to play a part in ensuring the AFWL was a success – anything from helping to set up the main event room (where fashion shows were held) to welcoming guests and ushering them to their seats around the runway.
Once everything was up and running, the whole venue oozed with African culture; from the music to the creativity of exhibitors, to the attendees dressing to impress. People of all races really styled themselves to the occasion, sporting bold prints and colours as well as beautiful embellishments and accessories – getting into the African spirit!
I tried to be as proactive as possible and landed the role of a personal runner for the event co-ordinators. I particularly enjoyed seeing the fast paced energy and determination of the backstage – the hustle and bustle of models getting ready and hastily going through outfit changes.
Networking is key. It is vital in order not to miss an opportunity to make connections. A key moment I used to network during the show was whilst I was serving African delicacies and beverages to guests in the VIP section. Volunteering at AFWL allowed me to meet some incredible and talented people who were also helping out with the event. I met the amazing blogger, Leila Iman!!! (http://leilaimanbkl.blogspot.co.uk) who was in-house blogging for the event and even had the chance to assist while she worked.
Volunteers were fortunate enough to be let in and see all the catwalk shows- #yaaaassss. The runway was filled with couture, talent and fun!
From each of the three days I had a designer that stood out to me:
Day One was the opening collection by Tumisola Ladega. Her collection was not only memorable for me because of the designs and the edginess of the monochrome theme, but the fact that Tumisola was ONLY fourteen years old. At a tender age, she has designed and released a whole collection. Fourteen… Fourteeen! Now that is true young talent. #NOEXCUSES
Day Two, there was a designer I could never forget – Vou Brown. Instead of the conventional one-two strut down the runway, she allowed her models to express themselves through dance whilst Afrobeats (music originated from Africa) played in the background. Instantly, the room livened up with such upbeat and positive energy and grasped the spectator’s attention.
Day Three featured a designer (that I have since followed on Instagram), by the name of Jessica Baah and her designs are so eye-catching with the way that it fits the body. She was definitely one to watch.
Overall, AFW13 proved to be a great learning experience. I got to further my interest in fashion whilst being proactive and meeting new people took me out of my comfort zone. I even made a brief appearance on BBC News which was funny! (around 14 seconds in the link below). Meeting so many talented up and coming designers, models, musicians and general business people was great fun. My advice to people going this year would be to have a good look around the stalls as well as the catwalk show. I would definitely recommend this event to anyone remotely interested in fashion and would love to go again myself.
Naomi M x
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