The event opened with three emerging designers under the AFI Fastrack Program - Kyra-Moon Halfpenny, Kim Gush (FastTrack Designer of the Year award winner who presented an impressive menswear collection), and Wetive Nkosi. Featuring an eclectic mix of styles, ranging from cutting-edge to understated elegance, designers did not hide from color r exorbitance: South African designer and UNICEF Ambassador Gavin Rajah showcased his Luminescent Luxury collection that featured laser-cut vinyl blossoms, gold bullion embroidered quilted cameos, pristine pencil skirts with back panel flourishes, bias cut multi-paneled dresses and sporty baseball jackets. One of the breakout stars of the show was Cameroonian designer was KibonenNY whose Milagro Collection exploits sustainable fabric and sustainable methods of

production. The prints used in the creation were derived KibonenNY's toghu inspiration and shaped through paintings by Cameroonian artist Shiri Achu that Kibonen later transformed into textiles. Materials used for the creation of this collection include organic cotton, silk crepe de Chine, cotton twill, and cotton voile. Her creative collection resulted in a standing ovation and applause that seemed never-ending. A challenging feat that led her to burst into tears as she walked down the runway. Explaining why she was emotional "My previous company broke up because we went bankrupt because the government of my country placed an order worth thousands of dollars for the 2009 world cup; but sadly we never got paid for it. We had to pay from our savings accounts and that put a strain on my business partner and I- leading to our separation." But believing in her dream to be one of Africa's finest fashion designers, she risked it again at the beginning of this year and went at it on her own.

"…the event opened with three emerging designers under the AFI Fastrack Program….and featuring an eclectic mix of styles, ranging from cutting-edge to understated elegance, designers did not hide from color or exorbitance…"

As nearly all the fifteen thousand miners who have long faced low salaries and poor living conditions in shantytowns often beset with ongoing struggles, return to work following news that AngloGold and other gold companies had agreed to wage increases, uncertainty still looms. The unrest has shaken South Africa, a nation now free from past-era laws, but not of its legacy of economic disparities. And though the first time in weeks, the grip of the strikes appear to have loosened, the mood calm rather than volatile as the workers release sighs of relief, the damage done to South Africa's anaemic economy and mining industry could last even longer. However, it is left to be seen the impact of the Marikana crisis; and how much South Africa can sustain it in years to come.

The Afrilaal Collection by Pan African and well-known designer Mustafa Hassanali was a classic hit. This Collection which fuses "Afri"-short for Africa and "Laal," a Hindi term for the color "red," summates how vast and varied Africa is while the blood flowing through our veins is of the same color. Swimwear designer Dax Martin never disappoints when it comes to innovative underwear and swimsuits. His collection infused lots of color and provided a lot of freedom of expression for both the male and female models on the ramp. The range was playful with a touch of elegance. Tlale showcased his Transcendence Spring Collection that he showed at New York Fashion Week to rave reviews. He also showcased his affordable, ready-to-wear, Van Der Tlale collection, along with the main collection that consisted of vivid yellow dresses and tribalesque beats, which filled the main stage as models posed with fierce eyes. The collection was inspired by local culture evident in the stunning floral tunics. Mozambique's Taibo Bacar showed a collection of navy, green color palette coupled with brown prints, cleverly married to The Lion King soundtrack. This fantastic collection earned him the Emerging Designer of the Year award at the event. KLUK CGDT took fashion slaves on an Asian flavor experience. The models posed in exquisite furniture pieces that left attendees all spinning wondering, what to purchase: the clothes, furniture or bit of both? UK-based Jacob Kimmie's design aesthetic was avant garde with a strong monochrome base. This evolutionary collection's use of sheer mesh, tulle and fringing was present. And, with a strong focus on the individual pieces, rather than a 'look', it got the attention of attendees.

MercedesFashionWeek2 French designer Fred Sathal showed an incredible scintillating collection of urban, embellished pieces in a French-South African partnership called the Constellation. The range was heavy on intricately detailed star-spangled dresses, jackets and tops, seasoned with sequins, beads, thread patterns and rhinestones. Modern safari-chic from Rwandan brand Mille Collines was one of the few to have an actual African representation of the international RTW S/S13 trends. The skirt silhouette seen all over the SS13 runways, was beautifully interpreted from an African standpoint. The separates were simple but skillfully made with classical interpretations of trends with an African handwriting. The mistress of modern African aesthetic, Marianne Fassler showcased print-trimmed coats, sequin skulls and recycled materials that speak to the craft trend and the

responsibility we must have to our environment. Nigerian designer Ituen Basi's, (winner of the coveted Designer Of the Year-Africa award), collection was defined by the use of prints; colorful lace and hemlines which started out above the knee at the beginning of the show and were reaching to the ankle towards the end. However, the absolute standout pieces within the collection were the pencil skirt in newspaper print featuring a built-out hip, and the handmade capes that were made up by small pieces of colorful, printed fabric. Winner of the Designer of the Year - International award was American-based Ghanaian designer Mimi Plange whose collection successfully fused Victorian Europe, pre-colonial Africa and modern American sportswear into extraordinary day and evening looks. It was a soft color palette made up of mint, off-white and pink with a floral theme on mainly sleeveless or puffy sleeves, pants and dresses.


African Fashion International serves as a platform for bringing in designers from the entire continent to the limelight; and having a sponsor like Mercedes-Benz is essential if African designers want to launch themselves outside of their home country. AFI chairperson Precious Moloi-Motsepe explained this concept: "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa is the authentic contemporary African Fashion gathering, bringing together and honoring designers from the four corners of the continent and the African Diaspora. This global platform for the African fashion aesthetic showcases the global relevance and commercial viability of our industry."

From the presentation, designers worked hard to put their best foot forward to impress the public especially the potential buyers who came in from around the globe to attend the coveted event. Mercedes Benz and Africa Fashion International underwrite the costs involved in another city so designers do not have to finance flying the models in and out or pay for airfare. According to Mimi Plange this type of support takes care of the whole showing process, which for a young designer, is priceless: "For us, it was the first time we won the International Designer of the Year award, and what we gain from that is that we get to show our collection during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in any country that we choose that Mercedes-Benz sponsors. It can be Berlin, Tokyo or Sydney, for instance. This allows our brand to grow more globally and be seen by more people." It is nice to have such coverage in publications such as the prestigious WWD, which is essential for the growth and global recognition of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in the fashion industry.

Looking forward to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa 2013!!

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