Zimbabwean designers at AFW South Africa
It has been proven. With perseverance, dedication and hard work producing a twenty- one piece collection, local creative individuals can find themselves at one of Africa’s biggest fashion platforms, dedicated to showcasing African talent. The proof is in the pudding, and it must taste pretty good for the four Zimbabwean fashion designers who took a huge bite out of the African fashion cake, served up at this years African Fashion Week at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa 20- 22nd October.
It was a chance for designers, Intisaar Mukadam, Colin Ratisai, Bisma Ahmed, and Maita Marimo to reveal their interpretation of ‘fashion’. Their collections were a combination of strong concepts rooted in culture, history and the modern day global woman. All the designers put their best foot forward, invading the South African fashion world with a globally conscious design perspective.
Intisaarm by Intisaar Mukadam. ‘African Kaleidoscope’ is an eclectic collection with a mix of African print, thigh high 50’s flare cotton and chiffon dresses, acid lime green leggings, bold colour blocking in chiffon and jersey and her signature fabric of choice, bright neon knits in the form of tank tops and tube fringed detail dresses. Overall it was a collection that had its’ strong and weak moments. The weak being, the cohesiveness of the collection seemed to trail off in a mix mash of separates. Editing is important to make room for a more definitive design point of view. The make-up and accessories could have been a bit more adventurous, to celebrate the decorative arts in various African cultures but in her defence all designers had to share the same models, restricting creative freedom. However the tailoring, colour and print combinations were right on point, giving an exciting energetic finish.
Intisaarm provides the funky, bold, and not afraid of colour kind of woman, with statement pieces that could easily find a place in your summer wardrobe. I am particularly eager to get my hands on the raspberry and orange striped knit top, which you could pair with some daring cut off denims.
CZeeRat by Colin Ratisai. A definite statement maker, his designs stand out with his love for drama, texture and celebrating the female form. Tiered ruffled maxi dresses, taken from his observation of the trend on the streets of Harare and body-con tube dresses in psychedelic cosmic prints. The show stopper was the rainbow tiered ruffle dress, combined with a kind of laser cut stretch mesh that definitely had the allure factor. I did feel that there were too many different prints and colour palette that did not sync the collection together, such details diverted away from the overall vibe of the collection and could have been simplified to create a bigger impact and clearer design point of view.
Bisma Ahmed and Maita Marimo were the two designers who managed to develop wearable, creative looks that reflect their acute awareness of the world around them and in this case the fashion world.
B'zma by Bisma Ahmed collection entitled ‘Peacock Palette’ draws from her fascination of the gemestic peacock bird. Her palette is therefore predictable demonstrating deep emerald greens, vibrant purples, muted browns cleverly combined with tie dye hems, and heavy hand beading which pays homage to her Pakistani heritage.
The collection itself consists of elegant dresses made from chiffon and silk fabrics, which created gracious billowing movements when the models strutted down the runway. I can imagine this effect added an element of dramatisation a similar display made by the male peacock when trying to attract attention from the female. Nonetheless, Bisma’s collection provides her customer with definite assurance that they will stand out from the crowd in a unique construction that combines her love for nature and her culture.
Maita Marimo self named label provided her audience with a well constructed impeccably tailored collection that apparently drew inspiration from Egypt. Evidence of hard and soft elements seen in the studded canary yellow, royal purple dresses, and waistline details added an edgy attempt to inject a sense of ancient antiquity. The collection consists of her signature netted fabric dresses; separates including drain pipe trousers combined with elegant blazers in neoclassical motif prints.
Maita’s collection is a prelude to a more commercially viable collection that would sit well with the African and even global fashion public. Demonstrating her ability to cater for a more fashion conscious and stylishly aware woman. Maita offers a sense of grace and regal-ness in her designs making sure her customer always presents her self as the queen of her universe.
Zimbabwe definitely holds a lot of creative talent, and with the right nurturing and exposure more and more will be inspired to develop and support a globally recognised fashion industry. Let’s hope one day we can find these designs in our local stores soon!