International Fashion Showcase 2013: Swahili Flavour

Running through the month of February, the International Fashion Showcase which launched last year has given us a rare and wonderful opportunity to take a glimpse into fashion industries around the world. 27 countries took part this year, hosting exhibitions in embassies and galleries around London. I took the opportunity to visit the exhibitions of the two African countries that took part this year, Tanzania and Nigeria.

The Tanzanian High Commision hosted the Swahili Flavour exhibition in the stunning ballroom of the Tanzanian embassy. The designers on show were clothing and accessory designer Anna Luks, jewellery designer Heart 365 and old favourites Chichia London. Black mannequins donned in the latest fashions from Chichia and Anna Luks dotted the room, beautiful dresses hung from windows and jewellery was displayed on tables and draped around light fixtures. On my visit I was fortunate enough to meet the designers, Anna Lukindo of Anna Luks and Christine Mhando of Chichia London. Both ladies were lovely and friendly and I must admit I did have a complete fangirl moment when I found out Christine Mhando actually knew about this little old blog!

Chichia London used the exhibition to showcase samples from the label's AW13 Guani - The Dress Concept collection. It explores the notion of communication through dress and offers up the 13 key dresses every Chichia girl should have. Patchwork khanga prints in vibrant colours and Swahili khanga sayings are put to great use through out the collection. I was drawn to the monochrome Swahili khanga sayings print dress and it's pink counterpart. Both have an early 90s DKNY slogan vibe that I can see myself really getting in to.  Beyond the prints, some pieces had been adorned with beautifully intricate beadwork like the pale peach and pink cut out shoulder dress. This is probably one of my favourite pieces as it has such an easy to wear shape and could easily take you from day to night.

The Anna Luks label wowed with pieces from her Just Anna SS13 and Just Add Binzari AW13 collections as well as her range of accessories. Traditional Tanzanian fabrics and styles were updated with western silhouettes for her AW13 collection. Exposed golden zips lent a touch of modernity to flowing maxi and mini dresses, and my favourite piece in the collection, a flower print jumpsuit. A small selection of unique hand crafted jewellery were also on display. It was a welcome surprise to see winter hats form part of her collection. They were beautiful black felt form-fitted numbers that had a wonderful architectural quality to them.

Luxury jewellery label Heart 365 founded by Jacqueline Kibacha also showcased pieces from their Freedom To Fly and Desert Interlude collections. Beautifully handcrafted collars took centre stage, adorned with crystals and hand dyed feathers. There were also beaded bangles and earrings with hand sewn crystals and vintage metal accents. The level of craftsmanship behind each piece is astounding and you can really see the African influence in each piece.

It was a great exhibition and I was more than impressed with what Tanzanian designers had to offer. I shall be keeping you up to date with all the latest on the designers featured so keep your eyes peeled. If you also attended the exhibition, let me know your thoughts via Facebook, Twitter or just in the comments below.