If you love African and African-inspired fashion and design, then you don’t want to miss the upcoming Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL), Europe’s largest annual fashion event promoting Africa’s emerging design talent and apparel industry to the international scene.
This year’s event is taking place between 11-12 August 2017 at Freemasons’ Hall in London, and here we go behind the scenes to showcase the amazing team that puts on this wonderful event.
The annual event, founded in 2011, has showcased more than 800 designers and exhibitors from Africa and the global diaspora and welcomed over 70,000 visitors. Put together by a core team of experienced fashion industry experts and business professionals, we throw the spotlight on some of the team.
Founder and CEO: Ronke Ademiluyi
Led by her passion for African fashion, Ronke is the brains behind this much-needed platform. Having originally studied law, her real passion lay in fashion entrepreneurship.
“It hasn’t been easy, but at least now we are internationally known as a place where young, old, up and coming and established designers from Africa can come and show in London to a very appreciative audience.
We sell out every year. This tells us there is a huge market for African and African-inspired design and a fascination for what is new from the Continent.”
Head Stylist: Samson Soboye
Samson is an in-demand menswear designer and stylist with more than 20 years’ experience in the creative industries and is the British Nigerian creative behind the successful SOBOYE brand.
A graduate of Central St. Martin’s, he has worked at British Vogue, and had his work featured in The Guardian, The Times, ES magazine.
“Seeing the designs that are coming out of Africa is always inspiring. In the past 20 years, I’ve seen a steady increase in the quality and craftsmanship – and to be honest – the utter creativity these young Africans bring. I’m really looking forward to August to see what new trends Africans are bringing to the catwalk.”
Head Curator: Caroline Chi-Chi Chinakwe
A stylist, graphic artist, creative Consultant and Designer for her own bespoke label Chinakwe, Caroline is a London College of Fashion graduate. She first got her foot in the industry working as a garment technologist with high end brand Nicole Farhi, where she developed her love for garment construction and production. It’s her job to make sure the designers are showing their best work on the catwalk.
“Some designers have needed guidance with the direction of their collections, and others are just outstandingly talented. I can’t wait to meet them all and see who has taken my advice and brought their collections up to an international showcasing standard.”
Official Casting Director: Hassan Reese
Hassan is a veteran of the AFWL catwalks and now has his own male model agency (DAM Model Management).
“I can’t think of another catwalk show of this size and importance that specifically wants Black and Ethnic minority models to be the stars of the show. Africa Fashion Week London has been close to my heart since 2012, and I’m proud to be responsible for the stable of over 40 models; mentoring them and making sure they look their best, feel their best and walk their best.”
Head Make Up Artist (MUA): Abbie May Hopkins
Abbie May Hopkins is in charge of making sure the models are catwalk ready. Where some other MUAs fall short in matching skin tones, Abbie May understands this perfectly and always comes very well prepared.
“I can’t wait to work on the girls this year. I’ve heard we have a lot of very dark skin, this is going to look amazing against the Freemasons’ Hall backdrop. I’m thinking about gold, bronze and copper to use on the girls – and maybe a lot of colour.”
Head of Hair Design: Allan Henry
Allan is a master with hair and has worked all over the world for catwalk shows, film and editorial shoots. Former Creative Director at TONI & GUY, Allan is very much in demand as an innovative stylist and one who works with all hair types.
“This year we are going NATURAL darling, watch and see!”