When a stunning garment, the perfect model and beautiful lighting come together, it’s like magic. All the editors, stylists and celebrities live for that rare Fashion Week moment. The Arise Fall 2010 show was full of them.
The show that featured Grace Jones on the catwalk in its debut season (a moment I will never forget!) brought out the most powerful names in Fashion on Saturday evening. Featuring three up-and-coming African brands, Black Coffee, Deola Sagoe and Loin Cloth and Ashes, the event was hosted by Arise Magazine, the first global style and culture magazine to celebrate African achievement (Please do yourself a favor and subscribe. It’s one of my favorite books).
In the third row with my girlfriends (see pic below), I sat directly across from legendary supermodels, Liya Kebede, Coco Rocha and Veronica Webb. To the left of me sat the Holy Trinity of African-Americans in Fashion: June Ambrose, Harriet Cole and Bethann Hardison. You could feel the beauty and power in the room before the show even started.
When the show finally began, the energy in the air was palpable.The lights dimmed and a hush fell over the elite crowd. The models were preceded by a lighted display of leaves against the wall. With light African-themed music playing in the background, the models stepped on the runway one-by-one with only their silhouette peeking through the light.
A sole spotlight hit the catwalk and the models, including the beautiful Chanel Iman, began to walk, wearing South African brand, Black Coffee. Taking inspiration from Pablo Picasso’s reinterpretation of African masks, designers Jacques van der Watt and Danica Lepen presented a line of flesh tone cocoon-shaped coats, structured shoulders in architectural shapes and fluid dresses in soft, mint green colors.
The second collection was presented by Tanzanian designer, Anisa Mpungwe, of the brand, Loin Cloth and Ashes. Inspired by her father’s hometown of Ifakara, Mpungwe’s collection was a melange of body-skimming dresses, billowy pants and flowing skirts, energized with touches of metallic gold, electric blue and sharp stripes.
And last but not least, I discovered one of my two new ‘It’ designers of Fashion Week (the other is Laquan Smith, more on him later!): Deola Sagoe. Hailing from Nigeria, the beautiful designer showed her collection of bodycon dresses, slim pants and military-inspired jackets with metallic, embroidered and lace flourishes. Inspired by East African Maasai warriors and 18th century European military uniforms, the looks were sharp, valiant, sassy and strong.
And who better to model that look than my favorite, Sessilee Lopez? Leading the army of models, Lopez stormed the catwalk with the fiercest strut ever (Rae Holiday of Stuff Fly People Like remarked, “Sessilee walked off the runway and took the show with her!”). Each model followed her lead and enraptured the audience, who applauded after every look. At the close of the show, designer Deola Sagoe walked out to a standing ovation from the crowd.
While mingling in the Tents after the show, I ran into the one-and-only, fabulous stylist du jour, June Ambrose! She turned the hallway outside into a catwalk, serving up the most ferocious runway walk while a crowd of bloggers cheered her on. Midway through, she stopped and posed for my pic like a pro. See why The Glamazons love her? Such a fun night!
What do you think of the Arise Fall 2010 designers? Who is your new favorite designer?