Last week Friday and Saturday, African fashion took over Olympia West in London. I attended on the Saturday and what a day it was. With three shows featuring a multitude of designers plus an exhibition of retailers and ready to wear designers, I have plenty to share.
From the shows, the central theme was textures and lots of it. Designers were mixing traditional ankara with leather, crushed velvet and sheer fabrics. While prints still dominated the show, a lot of designers moved beyond prints to provide glamorous evening wear and minimalist looks.
Let's get straight to it with some tearaway fashion courtesy of Kutowa. Designed to be layered, you can transform your look by adding or removing a layer.
Victoria Grace impressed with her multi-print dresses that were a combination of chiffon and waxed cotton. My favourite pieces was the bold as brass yellow shirt dress.
Red carpet looks and occasion wear were on offer at Hyness. Feathers added drama to key pieces in the collection like the white mini with the feather hem and the coral showstopper.
I love a good bag and Sherene Melinda had plenty. The dyed springbok backpacks are definite crowdpleasers as are the crossbody bags.
Co-Identity Collection x Mama Bishara were one of my favourite shows on the day. The whole vibe was cool girl modesty and I am so here for it. The collection was rich with colour and those tassel trousers, yes please!
Lots of sheer fabric made for a very romantic collection from Lueji. It's not clear in the video but there were little painterly prints on the silk.
House of Okosun & Ngoni delivered a work friendly autumn ready collection that was rich with shades of brown.
Keeping the autumnal feels going were Detour Fashion with their collection of leather and suede pieces.
Lady Biba & Step Up bags closed the second show of the day and they did it in style. Lady Biba brings dramatic tailoring to corporate office wear. The bags on display are from Step Up which is an initiative set up in Nigeria to provide practical skills and training to women from disadvantaged backgrounds. You can find out more about the scheme here.
Soboye was a festival of textures with PVC, denim, crushed velvet and silk alongside your traditional ankara. My favourite piece was the printed robe as seen on the male model.
Tina Lobondi brought an ethereal collection that was both delicate and glamorous. The level of detailing on some of the dresses is impressive. I was also introduced to her latest initiative ESIMBI which is a non-profit organisation to promote arts, fashion and culture of Congolese origin. You can find out more about the initiative here and how you can get involved.
I always have time for Bestow Elan and I was really pleased to see her latest collection in the flesh. As always with BE, we had great architectural pieces in beautiful prints. My favourite piece has to be the silk green jumpsuit with a peplum hem. You can shop quite a few pieces from the show at Wolf & Badger.
If you have a traditional event to attend and you want to TURN UP, then Signature Secrets have you covered. I was totally won over by the oversized lapel look especially when teamed with form fitting dresses.
Mustafa Hassanali glitzy collection was a fitting end to the show. The level of detail on his sequinned masterpieces was mind blowing. These are dresses for women who aren't afraid of taking centre stage.
I have to commend the organisers as the event was well put together and it has come a long way since I went last when it was held at Spitalfields market. It was great to see so many fresh new designers from the continent as well as old favourites.
Did you attend the show? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please leave comments below.