An image from a past edition of Afro Fashion Week Milan.

AFRICAN FASHION: Marking its fifth anniversary, Afro Fashion Week Milan is expanding its reach — a sign of the multicultural bent the city has embraced.

Organized by Afro Fashion, an Italy-based nonprofit organization that has been actively promoting the African continent’s designers and creative talents over the past five years, the showcase will encompass a range of fashion shows, entirely digital or livestreamed, talks and even a couple of high-scale partnerships with Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and White Milano.

“It’s been a complicated year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and also in the wake of the Black Lives Matter [movement] which has resonated and drawn attention not only in the U.S., but internationally,” said Michelle Francine Ngonmo, president of Afro Fashion during a virtual press conference Tuesday.

Running Sept. 24 to 27, at the same time as Milan Fashion Week, Afro Fashion Week Milan will host on the association’s online platform a range of fashion showcases from Emeka Suits, a Kenyan green label founded by Sydney Nwakanma; Frida-Kiza, helmed by Burundi-born, Italy-based Fabiola Manirakiza; swimwear label Other Couture, launched by Mozambique-born Helena de Jesus; Otinguema, run by Gabonese designer Jessica Nguema-Metoule, and the collective display of works from students at Cameroon’s LABA Douala, or Libre Académie des Beaux-arts.

The virtual shows will be flanked by panel discussions and talks spanning different topics, such as D&I in fashion, hosted by Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan; Fashion for Empowerment, analyzing how fashion can serve as a lever for economic and social development for the African continent, as well as a spotlight on leading fashion schools where African students are stretching their muscles.

In addition, the Afro Fashion organization has helped Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan, as well as the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion Collective, select the “The Fab Five Bridge Builders,” such as the five designers that will present the “We Are Made in Italy” project as part of Italy’s Camera della Moda official Milan Fashion Week calendar.

As reported, the digital event spotlighting the five Black-owned Made in Italy businesses will take place on Sept. 27.

Centered on the “Exquisite Beauty” theme, which Ngonmo describes as a celebration of beauty in all its forms, Afro Fashion Week Milan has also forged ties with White Milano, which will host a special exhibition dedicated to Afro-Italian fashion throughout the four-day event.

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