Friday, July 30, 2010


Yesterday, I was sent a link to an online video by a friend and I have to say that it got me thinking. It didn’t show me anything I didn’t already know but it was thought provoking and it just made me a bit uneasy.

It depicted the journey of a young black Canadian model Renee Thompson who went around casting for jobs. She moved from Toronto to NYC to try to increase her chances of getting into the NY Fashion Week and of being booked for jobs but was still frustrated that her “white” counterparts with the same drive and motivation as herself were given more opportunities than she did.

In the industry, black models are seen to be too shapely because of our derrière and our curvy hips. Those who are “lucky” enough to look (straight noses, thinner lips, softer features, no butt, no hips) like white girls dipped in chocolate have a higher chance of making it in the industry than those with the more “African” features.

According to the industry, “black” does not sell and fashion is a business driven by money after all. Those who have the ready cash to spend are supposedly “white” people and the designers know who keep their business afloat; older white people with colonial mindset who spend absurd amount of money buying these designers items and who do not want their brand to be promoted by black or Asian models. Therefore, this is why they prefer using the white models!

But how can this be I keep asking myself. Don’t black people buy things? I use Garnier cleansing lotion, Bourjois makeup, perfumes, shoes, bags, clothes etc etc that are available in the market and why should I not see a face like mine being used to front their ad campaigns? Black people (black girls especially) are the vainest girls on this earth in my opinion! Do they not know how much black girls can spend just to look good? From their hair (let me not even go there), to their makeup, their nails, to their clothes, shoes, bags etc, they will spend even when they can’t afford it!! So why is this industry completely ignoring our spending power and sidelining us? Especially in these years with the growth in media and IT, black people are acquiring more and more wealth. There are a lot of successful black entrepreneurs now with the ready cash to spend so why do they think we are incapable?

Okay, so maybe we do not need to look into the “white” market to validate our spending power as they do not want to believe we are capable of buying, fine! I remember the commotion Tommy Hilfiger caused when he blatantly refused to acknowledge the fact that we were the ones keeping his label alive. When we boycotted, he felt it and he learnt.

Maybe we need to look into the “black” market and create our own industry that truly and unashamedly reflects us. I looked at Sean Coombes’ popular Sean John label which is doing fantastically well internationally. I decided to do a little research to see which colour models they have used in their campaigns and the majority was black. I looked at Nelly’s Apple Bottom Jeans campaigns and it features light skinned black models. The emerging fashion market in Africa seems filled with black models but I am unsure if given the choice the designers would prefer a white model? Fashion is a business after all driven by money as they say, so I am unsure yet again.

I decided to go back in time and looked at fashion back in the days, there existed a time where black models (very few of them then) where highly regarded by the big international fashion brokers. Katouche Niane the French Guinean model found dead in 2008 in Paris was once the muse of Yves Saint Laurent. Iman back in the 80’s was a YSL muse for a collection inspired by Africa and Naomi Campbell followed suit a few years ago. Yves Saint Laurent was the first major designer to use black models in his catwalk shows, not sure if his Algerian heritage had anything to do with it.

Back in the days, black models also fronted major ad campaigns for these big brands. Waris Dirie fronted the Allure by Chanel perfume campaign in the 80’s followed by Yasmin Warsame and then another black model in the 2000’s. Brandi Quinones fronted a Chanel campaign back in the 90’s while Liya Kebede was in D&G and Lanvin ads. Back in 1966 Donyale Luna an Andy Warhol muse apparently became the first ever black model on a Vogue cover for British Vogue.

Given the progress that seemed evident in this “look” industry, what happened in these last years I ask myself? We are far more diversified, more people are wealthy and have disposable cash and a lot of people travel around and they see other cultures and other people and many of the major designers cite inspiration from Africa but why is this not being reflected in the representation? Will there ever be a time where the black and Asian models are given the same opportunities as their white counterparts? According to one model agent, models are cast depending on the client’s target market. So for example if she gets a call from a client from Mexico, they will want Latina models rather than black or white. According to this agent it is not about the colour of their skin but their features.

Do all black models have to look like white girls dipped in chocolate then to succeed in the modelling industry?

Watch the video here

Stay Fashion-ABLE

Monday, July 19, 2010


The Africa Fashion Week in Jo’burg SA has come and gone but there was one lasting impression that has kept on reverberating in my head – it is none other than this hot glam look by Thula Sindi.

I am very much in love with this look especially because my skinny’s are my best friend at the moment. You can dress it up or dress it down and it still makes you look incredibly sexy.

I decided to scour the net and see how I can put this look together. I opted to use skinny jeans instead of the fitted trousers but feel free to choose what you think suits you best!

See below for my way of how to “steal” this catwalk look.
Feel free to leave other options!

I opted for this black skinny jeans rather than a fitted pair of trousers.
£45.00 from Oasis

I scoured the net for a nice peplum top and I stumbled upon this Stella McCartney frilled peplum. Oh I wish it had short sleeves!
£575.00 from Brown stores.

This floral cut out stretch belt is ideal.
£6.00 from New Look stores

This Mango peep toe platform to give your look the final boost!
£27.00 from ASOS online.

And that's it!
Total cost £653.00. Not cheap but worth it!

Stay Fashion-ABLE!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The Africa Fashion Week came to an end on Saturday but the African fashion industry in South Africa was still buzzing excitedly over the first ever Africa Fashion Awards which took place last Monday, 5th July at the Sandton Convention Centre in Jo'burg.

The event was booming and in it were the movers and shakers creating a wave in the African fashion industry, doing their best to promote the beauty and creativity of the black continent. Some were honoured and some were just pleased to be able to be there to rub shoulders and witness the forward thinking Dr Precios Moloi-Motsepe's grand ideas come to light.

According to the Bella Naija website, the winners on the night were as follows:-

Designer of the Year (Africa): Black Coffee
Designer of the Year (International): Duro Olowu
Emerging Designer of the Year (Africa) - Ituen Basi
Emerging Designer of the Year (International) – Bunmi Koko
Retailer of the Year:
Top Makeup Artist: Pat McGrath
Stylist of the Year: Edward Enniful (Ghana)
Accessories Designer of the Year: Albertus Swanepoel
Menswear Designer of the Year (Africa): Stiaan Louw
Menswear Designer of the Year (International): Ozwald Boateng
Male Style Influencer: Michael Jackson
Miriam Makeba Female Style Influencer: Grace Jones
Outstanding Contribution in Photography: Koto Bofolo
Outstanding Contribution for Hair Direction: Saadique Ryklief
Model of the Year: Sessilee Lopez
Most Outstanding Fashion Contribution: Marianne Fassler
Lifetime Achievement Award: Yves Saint Laurant, Azzedine Alaïa and Joseph Joseph Ettedgui
Outstanding Contribution to Fashion Communication:

Enjoy the pictures below!




It truly seems like a fun filled night of fashion!
It is always good to see such events in Africa by Africans. My only wish is that it will someday include more participants from countries all around Africa than Nigeria & Ghana!
All photos by Simon Deiner.

Stay Fashion-ABLE!

Monday, July 5, 2010


The Africa Fashion Week came to a close on Saturday after bringing together on the African platform a diverse and multi coloured display of talents and creativity from around the continent.

It was a celebration of inspiration, of flair and obviously of fashion trends.

Today, I'll bring you some designers who caught my eye. In South Africa, 2 male designers who in my opinion keep pushing the boundaries are David Tlale and Thula Sindi. I very much look up to these designers and see that African fashion is truly evolving rapidly. Thula’s pieces were fluid and feminine with cuts to enhance shapes and sizes and some key pieces were also very red carpet glamour. The colours were uplifting and bold and easy to play with in terms of accessorising or clashing.

Aisha Obuobi, the designer behind the Christie Brown label has demonstrated time after time how outstanding and innovative she is. For a young designer she has quickly placed herself on a different platform from the rest of the newcomers and her pieces are definitely unforgettable and can be worn straight from the catwalk! For this collection, she has played with fusing Ankara prints with standard fabrics to create pieces that are wearable day or night.

Koketso Chiepe was another designer who caught my eye. I loved her playful take on female sensuality.

Designers to watch: Mataano & Gloria Wavamunno.

Catch the pictures below.


Thula Sindi designs for elegant and mature women. All his garments commemorate femininity and transports womanhood to its origins of tenderness, softness and grace.

He is passionate about his loyal clientele, Thula Sindi is committed to designing garments which both enable and encourage women to express their personal style.

Though his label is relatively new, it has in a short time it managed to secure a distinctive and timeless identity in the fashion trade.


The Wardrobe11, 4th avenue, Parkhurst, JHB+ 27 (0)11 880 9008
Fizz ClothingShop 43, Vincent Park Centre, Vincent, East London+ 27 (0)43 726 1113


Christie Brown is a Ghanaian based luxury women’s clothing/fashion brand whose aim is to satisfy the urge “of that modern woman who seeks a true taste of Africa”.

Christie Brown clothing is made from carefully selected African print, from all over the continent combined with silks, chiffon, denim or jersey. Our aim is to infuse a modern and distinct twist into the use of traditional African print, making it acceptable the world over; to allow women the world over to experience the culturally rich and opulent side of Africa without having to compromise their personal style, way of life or culture.

Christie Brown was founded in March 2008 and has since gone on to win the several global awards; The Emerging Designer of the Year Award for the year 2009 at the inaugural Arise Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg, South Africa. Christie Brown was also the only Ghanaian designer chosen to showcase in the Arise L’Afrique- a- Porter, in Paris as part of Paris Fashion Week in March this year. At the just ended Africa Economic Forum hosted by Columbia University, Christie Brown was invited to sit on the panel for “African Fashion Going Global”; a discourse on making African Fashion a recognisable global industry.

Their product line consists of women’s dresses, skirts, blouses, shorts, pants and jackets. The company is still growing and we are looking to add to the product line.With many magazine features to boast of(Arise(UK), Canoe 53 Sails, Black Hair(UK), Destiny(SA), Sawubona (In flight magazine for SAA) , Aisha Obuobi, founder of the label was listed as one of the women set to make headlines in 2010 in a feature published in the international edition of Glamour magazine.

The founder of the brand; Aisha Obuobi, graduated from the University of Ghana, Legon, majoring in Psychology. With no formal fashion training, her inspiration to create the label came from her paternal grandmother, Christie Brown. After only a couple of years in the industry, the label is creating a strong presence for itself. It reflects the personality of the founder’s inspiration; it’s chic, stylish and full of that newly emerging sentiment of the new African who plays on the global center-stage.

+233 244 418 477
+278 255 311 60


Since its inception in 2001 Koketso has stayed true to her celebration of a colourful and fun-loving fashion aesthetic. The emphasis is comfort while creatively accentuating the positives and disguising the negatives. "We just want to make clothes that women want to wear and covet."

This is evident in her line of clothing and accessories that retail in the USA, the UK, Spain and Japan. Koketso's clothing has graced the third cycle of America’s Next top Model, and numerous editorials from Italian Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan to name but a few. This is in addition to having dressed many celebrities. "

+27 (0) 71 703 0595

Anthropologie (Soho), NYC, USA
TopShop (consignment store), London, UK
LoveBabyJoy (Koketso flagship boutique)
LaForet Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
Edge, Sapporo, Japan
JQ designer collections, Cape Town, South Africa


Gloria Wavamunno is a privately owned company that was established January 2009 in Uganda, Kampala by Gloria Wavamunno. She has been in love with fashion since she can remember and draws inspiration from all that inspires her globally in fashion and culturally, also from her country’s culture as well as from Africa. GW had its continental debut at Africa Fashion Week 2009 in South Africa, which led to a GW dress, worn by top model Oluchi, being on the cover of Arise Magazine, July Issue 2009.

Based in Kampala, Uganda, the company is in the process of expanding within Africa as well as internationally. The company's style focus is on the use of African fabrics that are transformed into unique individual modern pieces of clothing; one could say stylish African wear. Experimenting with the versatile use that African fabrics have to offer, from embellishment, to mixing it with other textured, types of fabrics, and in future also experimenting with putting African patterns on a vast range of different types of materials e.g. silks, chiffons, velvets etc

Tel: +256 (0) 70 14888 44

Twin sisters Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim share a story that is anything but ordinary. Born in the U.S. and raised in Somalia, they fled the country at the age of nine to escape civil war. Ayaan and Idyl spent their school years in Washington, DC, and went on to graduate from Boston University and the University of Michigan, respectively. Their next step was to reconvene in New York City, where they embarked on a mission to stand out from the rest in the crowd in fashion and design.

Experiencing the industry from the ground up, through careful study and practice, they gradually crafted their talent, weaving their varied cultural influences into each meticulously designed piece in their studio. In 2008, the Mohallim sisters took a bold step together, launching their brand, Mataano (translated as “twins” in Somali), and developing a platform from which to express their vision and bring forth their creations to the marketplace.

+ 1 718.399.2079

MICHELLE NEW YORK376 Atlantic Avenue, BROOKLYN, NY 11217
TRUE BOUTIQUE278 Mott StreetNew York, NY 10012-3479

And that's it folks!
Photos by Simon Deiner
Don't forget to catch the African Fashion Awards today at Sandton Convention Centre. If you are in SA, try and get a ticket!!

Stay Fashion-ABLE!