A Moody Fall for Africa : Arise African Collective F/W 2010

Over the weekend, Steely and I braved the cold and stepped into the frenzy known as the tents at Bryant Park to attend our favorite show, The Arise Magazine African Collective for F/W 2010. It’s what the Marc Jacobs show is to downtown hipsters to us global mavens…and since the designers change every season, you never know what to expect. This season featured  three designers representing Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania—but looking back at the show, everyone came prepared to remix it for New York with collections filled with muted tones, dark metals and mood.

First up, Black Coffee. No stranger to NYFW, the duo also known as Jacques Van der Watt and Danica Lepen may have European roots but have consistently turned out modern collections that reflect their South African heritage since 1998. For Fall, they presented Counterpoint, which in their words “re-engineers the aesthetic convention and function of the coat.” With a muted color-palette and draped over their signature “Everyone Can Be A Designer” dress (Africa’s answer to the Butter by Nadia design) the coats gave a very natural, cocoon-like feel, enhanced by music that signaled to something very entomological and arid. Expert construction and composition aside, the was quiet and didn’t need to shout much—just like the woman who could pull off one of these coats.


Second was Loin Cloth & Ashes, created by Anisa Mpungwe in August of 2008. Inspired by her father’s village in Tanzania, she took a turn from the expected bright and pattern heavy expectations and decided to play with blacks, greys and beige with splashes of blue. The end result was a slightly disjointed collection, with the blue accents seemingly “thrown in” but came across as playful and easy. Check out her site for more of her view and peep out faves above.


Closing the show was Nigerian maven and crowd favorite, Deola Sagoe who has been building an international following, including Oprah Winfrey and a bevy of Nigerian celebrities, since 1998. Her collection, Above The Fray, may have taken inspiration from Maasai warriors and 18th century military uniforms, but when it hit the runway it was all glam. Woven fabrics, intricate detailing and structured forms mixed with a dark and metallic filled palette made for a presentation that was globally tuned and sharp. Having a power trio like Arlenis, Oluchi and Sesilee walk in your show doesn’t hurt either.


Overall, like the after-party at The Plaza, Arise did not disappoint on it’s third appearance at Bryant Park, and the departure from the signature bright colours and patterns that have become the “African Designer” staple was refreshing to see and put the designers on a stage ready to stand next to the heavyweights. My one wish would be to decrease the amount of glitterati in attendance and increase the amount of buyers to make the designers more accessible to US consumers—my guess is that we will have to take a fabulous trip to West & South Africa soon. Ready ladies?

PS. Where you there? Tell us your thoughts?

PSS. Cocktail dress + French Martinis + Highlife music = Afterparty WIN. Also, where we the only ones who wanted to grab Chanel Iman and shake some humility into her. It’s just us? Ok.

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington