Arise Africa Fashion Awards - African fashion celebrates talent

June 22, 2009 - South Africa

Last night more than 1000 fashion insiders and their guests descended on the Sandton International Convention Centre in Johannesburg to celebrate the fashion talent of Africa at the inaugural Arise Africa Fashion awards. Walking away with the joint top prize of Designer of the Year was South African David Tlale and Nigerian Tiffany Amber. They both win a place on the catwalks of Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week in September of this year, as part of the Arise African Fashion Collective show.

As hosts, Dr Precious Moloi Motsepe, from African Fashion International (AFI), and Nduka Obaigbena, Arise founder and THIS DAY GROUP chairman, said their welcome speech, “change in Africa will not come through politics, but through the people.” This was a theme of the evening that was echoed in the moving speech by former first lady of France, Cecilia Attias, who spoke of her belief that women will offer the real solutions to the issues of Africa and quoting Desmond Tutu and his definition of Ubuntu, saying that “a person is a person through other persons.”

And so it was with fashion in Africa last night, as designer, models, producers, media and buyers from the four regions of Africa and across the world, came together in an unprecedented demonstration of African unity to celebrate the diversity and cultural authenticity of this continent’s fashion in the context of a world-class, 21st century fashion aesthetic.

The awards were presented by Sudanese supermodel, Alek Wek, and South African MC Michael Moll and winners included the very talented young designer from Johannesburg, Heni, who won the Arise Most Promising Designer of the Year award jointly with Eyola from Nigeria. The Arise Award for Fashion Creative went to Suzaan Heyns and AngloGold Ashanti for their work on the impressive gold jewellery range for L’or d’Afrique by AuDITIONS. And the Arise Red Carpet Fashion Award went to master’s of the evening gown, Klûk CGDT, based out of Cape Town.

The Arise Emerging Designer of the Year was taken home to Nigeria by Christie Brown and the Arise Innovation in Fashion Award went to the very exciting Ituen Basi, also from Nigeria. A collection that changed the perceptions of African fashion for many at the first show on the first day of Arise Africa Fashion Week, this award was richly deserved. The Arise Fashion Business Award went to Maponya Mall, Soweto’s first major mall.

The many models who walked the runway at Arise Africa Fashion Week also got acknowledged for their work, both here in Africa, as well as how they represented Africa to the international community. Nigerian national, now residing in New York, Oluchi Onweagba won the Arise International Model of the Year and Kenyan Ajuma Nasanyana took home the award for Arise Africa fashion Model of the week. In her speech she spoke of her pride at being involved with the Arise Africa Fashion Week and Awards as a way to help grow the fashion community on the continent.

And so in a night dominated by South African and Nigerian fashionistas, it was an American R&B music star that really brought the house down. Acknowledged as an honouree African after a set of his most famous international hits, R. Kelly was a crowd pleasing entertainment act in his very first African performance ever.

“We may not have won the football tonight,” said Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, chairperson of African Fashion International, “but we won ground in the mission to take African fashion to the world.”