In the heart of the Fashion District of Downtown LA was the epicenter of last week’s African Fashion Week LA (AFWLA). The streets buzzed with excitement as I approached the scene of the AFWLA Closing Night Runway Show, which took place on Saturday, October 12th. Although the production is still fairly new to the Los Angeles Fashion Week roster, African Fashion Week has solidified itself within the LA fashion community, and worldwide, with annual AFW events in New York and London. AFWLA celebrates African cultures through innovative and unique events that combine performance art with design and provides a platform for established and emerging African designers to showcase their work to US buyers.
Behind the red carpet, wardrobe, and performance, there is a greater goal in sight for the organizers of AFWLA. Co-Founders Nnenna Alexis Obioha and Onyinyechi Krystle Egeonuigwe share the belief that AFWLA is a network that has the power to raise awareness and impact social change in Africa. This year AFWLA partnered with non-profit organization The Giving Back Charity, a foundation that promotes education and culture through art and sport programs that incorporate socio-educational activities. Support for the cause was clear from red carpet interviews to honorable mentions on the runway. As AFWLA has grown, a bigger picture has come into focus-- one that resonates with its audience.
Saturday’s event was held at the 525 DTLA, part of downtown’s historic 1917 Collections Building. Inside, the gallery boasted bold colors and funky designs in the artwork and skillful graffiti that lined the walls for the event, mixing an edgy charm with a vintage allure.
The Guest list
Notable attendees included actress KD Aubert. Aubert is an avid supporter of African industry, recently winning an African Oscar for her role in the Nigerian film Turning Point at this year’s awards ceremony, held in DC last month. Aubert is known for her international modeling career with campaigns for Fredrick’s of Hollywood, Escada, and Fanta (as one of the original Fanta girls) as well as for her roles in cult films such as Friday After Next, Scorpion King, and Soul Plane.
As we took our seats for the show, the electricity from the crowd was palpable. As the first performers entered the runway, it became clear that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill fashion show. Women dressed in wild prints and body suits began to dance in unison down the runway, utilizing the space with their entire bodies. The crowd joined in applause and cheers for the dancers as they worked their way up and down the runway. The fashion show followed, featuring lines from 7 designers: Della, Tina Summers, David Giampiccolo, House of Versatile Styles, 2AfricanGirls, and Maryzo Designs. The venue hosted the after-party once the shows were finished.
The AFWLA was a unique and engaging experience that I was happy to be a part of. I am eager to see what next year AFW has in store for LA. The annual week long fashion event consists of runway shows, industry networking mixers, vendor exhibitions, and parties. Visit AFWLA online for more information.