|White cloque cotton dress by Stefania Morland, |
a Cape Town high-end designer
who uses natural fabrics
We were promised 18 shows, 50 models and 30 designers in three days. I met the Somalian twins, Idyl and Ayaan Mohallim of the label Mataano (Mataano means 'twins'), who have appeared on Oprah, and two men from Mozambique dressed in polka-dot shirts, bow ties and horn-rim glasses, who might have been the African version of Viktor and Rolf but were instead a fashion designer and his PR. Their collection, they said, was inspired by the death in 1986 of their country's president, Samora Machel, in a plane crash.
I then greeted the veteran white South African designer Marianne Fassler, the winner of the 2010 Outstanding Contribution to Fashion in Africa award, who has vermillion dreadlocks and is, I am told, the Vivienne Westwood of the African fashion industry. 'I have generations of clients,' she said. 'I've been working since 1976 at the start of the Soweto riots.'
'We don't have a strong celebrity culture,' said Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the head of African Fashion International, which organised the event, and a woman equipped with Michelle Obama-esque poise and a coral-coloured Oscar de la Renta jacket, 'but we have energy, passion, desire and hunger for fashion. Now we have to educate the consumer and find ways of making our manufacturing costs more competitive because they are higher than in China.'
White cloque cotton dress by Stefania Morland, a Cape Town high-end designer who uses natural fabrics
Green silk dress by Tart, established in 2001 by the Cape Town-based designer Cari Stephenson ( tartclothing.co.za ). Gold-plated brass earrings and rings by Belinda Lee Ludek in association with Tart
Wax-print cotton dress by Kiki Clothing, a 'Made in Ghana' label designed and founded by Titi Ademola ( kikiclothing.com ); earrings and bracelets by Thula Sindi.