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Names you need to know in African fashion

While Europe dominates the fashion world, African designers and models are continuing to prove themselves worthy of a spot on the world stage. Heidi Quill takes a look at the annual GTBank ‘FSHN WKND’, an event that showcases emerging African talent.

GTBank ‘FSHN WKND’ took place in Lagos this year 

The second weekend of November this year saw the third edition of the annual GTBank ‘FSHN WKND’ event, celebrating African fashion, models and emerging designers. Held in Lagos this year, the event is a crowning moment in any young designer’s career, giving them the opportunity of a runway watched all over the world – along with the added hope of grasping the attention of fashion-dominant-Europe.

Among the creators whose designs hit the runway, is Adama Amanda Ndiaye, creator of ADAMA PARIS. Influenced by urban and cosmopolitan fashions, Adama is inspired by the cities she has been surrounded by, living between Paris and Dakar. The work she creates is both hyper-feminine but strong and dominant, often featuring a classically effeminate silhouette. She offers what might be perceived as a twist on the expectation of femininity within female fashion.

Single-toned colour palettes are slowly becoming synonymous with the designer, as seen in a multitude of her collections such as her ‘Collection X Daniel Hechter Wax 2018’ and ‘Collection Signare’, amongst others. Likewise, Adama’s collection for the GTBank FSHNWKND featured an almost exclusively blush pink colour palette, demonstrating the almost archetypal image of womanhood that she then toys with and subverts, with the use of sheer panelling, transparent layering, cut-outs, and plastic corsets.

While her use of ruffling and leg-slits remains true to continuous themes seen on the catwalk both this year and the previous year, it becomes somehow unique in this collection, seemingly indicating a wider message. Using soft materials and even softer silhouettes, it seems that Adama Amanda Ndiaye represents perceptions of women, only to then metaphorically reveal their power, robustness, and stability by using transparent fabrics that literally reveal them as individuals and as women, while also blurring gender boundaries and images.

Adama at Lagos Fashion Week 2018

Another notable African designer is the largely known Laquan Smith. He has had shows at New York Fashion Week, articles written about him in Vogue and has also designed for Beyonce, Rihanna, Cardi B. Most recently working with supermodel Winnie Harlow, he’s achieved just about everything a designer can dream for. However, at the beginning of this month, he launched his first collaboration with ASOS, declaring that “The Laquan Smith philosophy is to make every shopper feel like a celebrity: it’s all about confidence and attitude”. Inspired by ‘nightlife’, Smith also claims that ‘celebrating’ the body is of great importance to him, that he ‘love(s) transparency’, a theme that rings true throughout all of his collections.

Smith’s presentation for GTBank FSHN WKND was no exception. Following on from his GTBankcollection the previous year, entitled ‘For the Young, Black & Sexy’, Laquan’s 2018 collection presented his usual combination of hyper-revealing mesh fabrics with tight, short or plunging silhouettes, remaining perfectly on-brand.

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However, this year saw more use of accessories than in previous years, with huge fur and faux fur jackets and sparkling coats, as well as an increase in his sense of finding sexiness in something unconventional, such as bodysuits for male models, a look consisting of a huge black overcoat with nothing but a bodysuit underneath with high-cut legs and obscuring the face, as well as some more androgynous looks. The collection as a whole – with its sparkling colour palette consisting of greens, maroons and black – puts a high-fashion twist on seasonal and festive partywear in a way that flawlessly encapsulates the attitude and nightlife-inspired luxury couture, that the designer himself has become infamous for.

As the producers and organisers of the event say, ‘the runway shows celebrate the convergence of global fashion design, by featuring prominent designers from across Africa and beyond’. Not only does this event indicate the biggest names in African fashion, but it is an event that deserves more recognition.

Laquan Smith’s collection ‘Laquan Smith x ASOS’ was launched November 1st and is now online, and you can shop from ADAMA PARIS on Adama’s official website here. 

Featured image credit: GTBank ‘Africa’s Finest’ publication – https://fashionweekend.gtbank.com/africas-finest/

Laquan Smith at the GTBank FSHN WKND Runway Show in 2017
Adama Paris at the GTBank FSHN WKND 2016 show


Heidi Quill

Heidi is a freelance non-fiction writer, specialising in fashion-related journalism and gender theory. Heidi originally started writing as a form of self-help and escapism from a series of mental health issues, and that angle of self-love flows throughout her writing.

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