We went backstage at the #AfricaSquad fashion show during the Africa Utopia festival which took place last weekend at the Southbank Centre in London. Designers from all over Africa and the diaspora collided in an explosive, colourful show.
Backstage, the energy was high. The best of London’s models mixed with voguers, practising their moves, while young designers picked their best pieces to showcase.
The inspiration? ‘The 70s, my childhood, and the ladies I grew up with,’ said creative director Agnes Cazin. Together with Cecile Issa, in charge of designer relations, she selected a series of up-and-coming designers and showcased their designs together on the models. The show was brilliantly styled by the amazing Caroline Chi Chi Chinakwe – spot her buffalo hat.
Who can resist a good mover?
The whole of the continent was represented: from the cut-out basques by the 19-year-old half-Malian Oumar Dicko, to the colourful fringed coats by the Zimbabwean designer Cassandra Gubudu and slick knitwear – that’s been blessed by Beyoncé – from the South African Laduma.
Cazin knew what she wanted from the show. She wanted it to be ‘very elegant, chic but fun and adventurous.’ And a little nostalgic… It was all about ‘the 80s and 90s in my teenage hood – where I still miss the energy – and people coming together rather than competing.’
High energy was the key for Cazin. ‘Beyond everything they had to know how to connect with an audience, have some attitude and be black. It was personality above beauty and who can resist a good mover?!’
Designs collided in a kaleidoscope of colour, energy and fun.
The voguer Diva D Magnifique was on hand to hone the dance moves, and couldn’t resist strutting the catwalk herself. Neither could the models; they spontaneously vogued their way down the catwalk to the sound of the legendary DJ (and rapper, actor and promoter) Solo Dicko.
There were handmade prints on luxe sportswear from WEAR’T, delicate patterns from Burkinan De La Sébure, smart cut outs from Gozel Green, and designs from Soboye, Yinka Alli, Merci Me, Aaugust, Tidjane Kenny, Nubian Skin, Connivence, Waxmax, Kanaiza, Goya and Bloom De Print. Nude underwear and tights were by Nubian Skin, shoes by Decaj, accessories by Jodi Barama and jewellery by Simone Brewster. Their designs collided in a kaleidoscope of colour, energy and fun.
Check out our Instagram and Facebook page for more photos from the show and interviews with the designers and models.
Creative direction by Agnes Cazin at Haïti73
Photography by Barima Owusu-Nyantekyi. More work at @barimaphotography