AFWEU/Africa - Amsterdam (a post from MUVIEWS)
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An unknowing man will say ‘What is the use of such a load of makeup?’, staring at the MUA’s desk. My answer: A fashion show is the bundling of art, pure teamwork. Every element contributes to the final masterpiece presented by the mannequin. From the well-defined locks of hair, to the stunning pieces of clothing. AFWEU/Africa was the perfect example of such powerful teamwork.
After years of experience in a variety of fields all over the world including fashion, Aydin Acik, also known as The Fashion Man, set up AFWEU in no more than 4 weeks. With a vision broader than just business, he created a new concept. The keyword? Innovation.
Under the name AFWEU he organises one fashion week each season: AFWEU/Africa & AFWEU/Asia in Amsterdam and Istanbul. Out of respect for designers, instead of commercial companies, he decided to skip the usual high registration fees for designers. This creates a platform for Africa- and Asia-inspired designers to present their work and connect in Europe. He sees high potential in the collaboration of these diverse continents.
One thing that really caught my attention was the open-mindedness of the 9 designers. They are open to inspiration from anything and anywhere and their kindness and work ethic appeared clearly from the conversations backstage. You could feel the presence of Africa through the bright, cheerful atmosphere during the preperations. In two nights, 8 well-organised shows were given by: Miss Pearl & Lady Africa, Marjorie Fernandes, Rachid Assoui, GHIMELLS & BaroQco, Bjorn Kersten, Nathaly Pater, Kwame Koranteng and VanElse. I was lucky enough to have spoken with some of them.
A designer of Indonesian heritage. Why was her collection presented at the runway of AFWEU/Africa? When it’s about African fashion, most of us immediately think of those bright wax printed fabrics. What most people don’t know however, is that those wax prints are of Asian origin. Through colonialism in the 19th century, batik fabrics from the Dutch East Indies were imitated in the Netherlands and eventually ended up in West-Africa. In the 20th century, these ‘Dutch wax textiles’ gained popularity in West- and Central Africa and got a local twist. Delving into the history of batik and African wax prints, the connection between VanElse and AFWEU/Africa is crystal clear.
The philosophy behind Van Else is to inspire women to reach their highest potential. They want to create fashion that empowers women, making them embrace every aspect of who they are. Van Else believes strongly that women should inspire each other through passion and strength.
A Ghanese tailor located in London, making the most sophisticated suits for both men and women. His inspiration? “My father is a teacher and as a young boy I would iron the short sleeved suits he would wear to work everyday. That sparked him to study fashion and eventually became a suit tailor. His costumes came to life when his models appeared on the runway, combining the classic elements of a suit, with bright African wax prints.
Haute couture juweler Eduardo Liem stood at the beginning of his label when he got married to his beautiful wife Imelda Liem. Their search for a crown was unsuccessful, so he decided to simply design it himself. Now he designes crowns for Miss Universe and more. Eduardo finds inspiration in anything, “even in this conversation with you”, he told me. This fashion week he complemented the clothing presented by GHIMELLS.
A designer born and raised in Morocco, moved to Venezuela and is now located in the Netherlands. His roots are obvious in the designs carrying authentic Moroccan elements and prints. Yet other designs have a western tint, like the captivating dress in the picture.
Rachid told me that he normally isn’t a fan of prints, but he collaborated with an artist who designed a costum-made print for him. He used this in the design of several dresses, resulting in a fusion of art forms. By altering the size and placement of the same print, he created a variety of looks.
Marjorie follows the footprints of her late mother, who would dress herself in self-crafted clothing of African fabrics. Without a professional training in it, she inherited her mother’s skills, highlighting the true beauty of a woman. Now with the assistence of her sons, this craft is passed on through generations. Marjorie blends influences from any culture, giving her collections a multicultural character.
We look forward to the last weekend of November, when AFWEU/Asia will take place in Arnhem. Fashion shows with Asian allure will be set against the beautiful decor of the Eusebius church. The organisation of AFWEU has shown their high potential and it’ll be our pleasure to follow their journey in connecting intercontinental fashion.
For photos of all designers and backstage shots, keep your eye on our photo album: AFWEU/Africa - A m s t e r d a m.
Writing and images by: Vera Wilders