More to African fashion than leopard print

Designers at this year’s Africa Fashion Week steered clear of using bold African prints and instead chose to focus their attention on intricate detail and craftsmanship.
Take the collection of Africa Fashion’s International Emerging Designer, Bunmi Koko, for example.

The label’s signature technique, termed the “longitudinal caisson”, was incorporated into its designs to produce hollow tube-like silhouettes.

Bunmi Koko: “Longitudinal caissons” are seen on the sleeves. (Photo: SDR Photography for African Fashion International)

The method used to create this was developed in-house during the design stages of its Matriarchy Collection and was seen on the sleeves of the finale garment — a long red Grim Reaper-like coat.

South African fashion house Fabiani maintained its long tradition of paying attention to fine detail and fit.

The collection, which was made up mainly of shorts, checked shirts and long colourful socks — worn with formal shoes — was completed with large man-bags toted by some of the male models.

Fabiani: Not afraid of colour. (Photo: SDR Photography for African Fashion International)

Suit jackets were given an edge by tucking colourful handkerchiefs neatly into the chest pockets.

The label, established in 1978, is known for its emphasis on accessories to complete a look.

Abigail Betz
Abigail Betz‘s inclination to make body-conscious garments is always a delight for any woman conscious of her curves and bumps.

Abigail Betz: Tamely elegant. (Photo: SDR Photography for African Fashion International)

Her collection of dresses, which included wedding dresses made of silks and satin fabric, exuded a delicate and feminine look.

These relied on subtle pallets of white, pastel pinks and blues.

For the first time, Betz experimented with beads for sequins and embellishments, jazzing up her otherwise tamely elegant collection.

Deola Sagoe
Nigeria-based label Deola Sagoe emphasised the female form with its figure-hugging and waist-accentuating garments, while plunging necklines exposed the breasts.

Deola Sagoe: Emphasises the female form. (Photo: SDR Photography for African Fashion International)

The haute couture label also incorporated boldly printed patterns and shiny fabric into its collection.

New York Fashion Week vs Africa Fashion Week
An American journalist who attended Africa Fashion Week said he could not tell the difference between Africa’s big fashion showing and New York Fashion Week.

Whether this should be taken as a compliment or an insult is up for discussion, but one thing is for certain: seeing New York-based designer Laquan Smith’s collection was a pleasure.

Laquan Smith: Gold studded-mermaid. (Photo: SDR Photography for African Fashion International)

The collection mainly consisted of very short skirts, short dresses and tight-fitting bodysuits, like the show-stopping gold-studded mermaid-like bodysuit worn by Rihanna in her Rude Boy video.

The 24 designers from all over the continent were showing at the Sandton Convention Centre from June 30 to July 3 and proved that there was more to African fashion than leopard print.

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