JOHANNESBURG — The five-day Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa was billed as a pan-African event, and indeed it was.
South Africa’s leading designers — such as David Tlale, Thula Sindi, Gavin Rajah, Marianne Fassler and Kluk CGDT — were joined, and in some instances even outshone, by some of the best designers from the continent as well as the African diaspora. Nigeria’s Ituen Basi, Ghanaian-American Mimi Plange, Mozambican Taibo Bacar and the Paris-based, Ivory Coast-born Laurence Chauvin Buthaud walked away with the top Africa Fashion International awards.
Basi, whose color-soaked textural prints were evocative of an African Missoni, was named Designer of the Year, while Mimi Plange, who has lived in New York for the last 15 years and has dressed Michelle Obama, won International Designer of the Year. Bacar, who has shown in Milan and uses traditional African prints and details in fresh and striking ways, was named Emerging Designer of the Year. Like Bacar, Laurence Chauvin Buthaud, the designer behind the label Laurence Airline, takes a novel approach to ethnic textiles, which she uses as the foundation for her sharply tailored men’s wear line. She was named International Emerging Designer of the Year.
Other award winners included Candice Swanepoel as Model of the Year, Liya Kebede as Female Style Icon of the Year, Khaya Dludla as Male Style Icon of the Year and GQ South Africa’s Arthur Malan-Murison as Stylist of the Year.
“For us, it was the first time we won the [International) Designer of the Year Award], and what we gain from that is that we get to show our collection during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in any country that we choose to that Mercedes-Benz is hosting,” said Mimi Plange, who showed the same collection she presented at her showroom in New York in September. “It can be Berlin, Tokyo or Sydney, for instance. That will also allow our brand to just grow more globally and to be able to be seen by more people.”
Having Mercedes-Benz and the Johannesburg-based organizer Africa Fashion International underwrite the costs involved in showing in another city is a huge help as well. “Typically, if you wanted to show, you would definitely have to pay for the whole production yourself, flying the models, pay for airfare,” Plange continued. “This will actually take care of my whole showing process, and for a young designer, that is just priceless.”
The partnership between AFI and Mercedes-Benz was launched in March via MBFW Joburg. In July, the first MBFW Cape Town took place.
Precious Moloi-Motsepe, chairwoman of AFI, does not downplay the significance of the partnership. “It brings us global relevance,” she said. “We believe that African fashion needs to be shown to the world in a globally relevant manner. Mercedes-Benz is a global icon, and they are known for their sponsorship of other international fashion weeks: New York, Berlin.…It brings us to the same stable. There is the association with iconic brands, the design aspect, the lifestyle aspect. It’s a partnership that really, really works.”
She added that MBFW Africa, which ended Oct. 28, was a good platform for designers throughout the continent and beyond. “Combining all elements of talent, the diversity of our cultures, the diversity of our understanding of design and African fashion, this event puts all these on a platform that is globally recognized, representing the best of what Africa has,” said Moloi-Motsepe. “It’s a way of showcasing and celebrating Africa, which has become so much in vogue.”
Christiaan Gabriel du Toit, the other half of the design duo Kluk CGDT, said that showing in African fashion weeks, such as MBFW Africa, Lagos Fashion Week and the Arise Magazine Africa group show in New York, is an eye-opening experience. He was impressed by the talent of his African colleagues. “In Lagos, it wasn’t just Nigerian designers, or designers from Africa, but ex-Africans living in New York and Europe who had come back. And Malcolm [Kluk] and I were honestly, like, ‘Are we good enough to stand next to these people?’ Because that was how impressed we were. I promise you, the quality, the fabrication…it makes us want to step up. We want to be at that level. We’ve been around for more than a decade, and we’re still learning the trade.”
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye