Accolades, Commendations as Arise Fashion Week Ends

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ON THE RUNWAY... Designer Esteban Cortazar and British supermodel Naomi Campbell, during the closing ceremony of Arise Fashion Week in Lagos... yesterday Kunle Ogunfuyi
•   Sagoe, Cortazar extol event, say African narrative changing on the runway

By Joseph Ushigiale, Demola Ojo and Vanessa Obioha

It was a fitting end to a well choreographed fashion event superbly put together by the Arise Media as fashion makers, models and a cross section of fashion enthusiasts heaped encomiums on the organisers for another superlative show which ended in Lagos last night.
Now rated as the biggest fashion event on the continent, the show, which held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos, opened April 19 and closed last night, pooled global fashion brands and models to the Lagos runway. It featured over 30 local and international designers from Africa, America and Europe, as well as over 150 models.

Speaking with THISDAY last night, leading fashion brand, Deola Sagoe praised the show organizers for creating variety. “The African narrative is gradually being changed on the runway but a lot still needs to be done. We need to regulate the narrative we are pushing to ensure that it represents Africa well and gives it the right credibility; which is what Arise Fashion Week has done for us. It shows our variety.”
Also speaking, Nkwó, an Abuja based fashion designer, pointed out that Arise Fashion Week has grown in leaps and bounds since its first edition and has been consistent in placing Africa on the global spotlight.
Nkwó said: “The fashion industry in Nigeria is super amazing because we don’t have formal education, most people are self-taught, the amount of creativity, is so amazing. For long, we wanted to showcase our talents to the world, but I think Arise Fashion Week was the first show that brought the attention of the world to African fashion. It did it for Nigerian designers and has become the epicenter of fashion in Africa.”
For the Colombian international designer, Esteban Cortazar, who was invited to the stage by the event headliner, Naomi Campbell, he said he was very impressed by the designs he saw on the runway and opined that indeed Africa is the future.
According to him, “I’m super excited to be here, this is the real future market to tap into. It is exciting to discover places that are up and coming, developing, where there is exciting energy for the future. And I really believe that Africa is it. I come from Colombia, Latin America and I believe that Latin America and Africa are both having this moment of Arise that is happening naturally.
“I have always been one that celebrates diversity and cultures from all around the world. I come from multi-cultures myself so it’s natural to me. It makes sense to come here because there is a lot of that sultry and colourful prints and attitude, people here are so stylish.”
Cortazar said he found it hard to make a clear distinction between the Arise Fashion Week and other international shows.
He said from his experience as someone based in Paris, which is the epicenter of high fashion globally, that at a point, the show becomes so predictable.
He added that with the Arise Fashion Week, he finds an excitement and hunger for raw talents.
He asserted that with AFW, African fashion is on its way to becoming an international identity.
“I think sometimes it takes one person to make a difference, you see someone like Naomi so strong in what she believes in and you see her bring people like Andre Talley, and I think through that, things can really change.  So I believe next year, AFW will be better, it is the future,” he said.
“It’s been a realistic experience since we arrived,” added his stylist Jaime Rubiano, saying: “Coming from Colombia, a very Afro-Caribbean environment, it feels like you are back to the source, to motherland. Arise Fashion Week has been a pleasant surprise for all. We’ve seen a lot of craftsmanship, which is very indigenous of the Nigerian culture, celebration of movement and colour and beauty. I feel it is multicultural, it’s not like they are copying from another. What I see is that the talents are expressing themselves in truth.”
The narrative is not different with the models. For some of them, it is their first time on any runway.  Being on Arise Fashion Week gave them the assurance that their career is starting on a right path.
“It’s been awesome,” said 19-year-old Victoria of Pakistan and Nigerian heritage. “I am very excited. It’s indescribable, it’s my first time on any runway show and I really wish it won’t come to an end today.”
But getting selected for this year’s edition wasn’t a walk in the park confessed many hopefuls, particularly for Adedamola Fashola who was walking the runway for the third time.
“Last year seemed I got it on a platter of gold, but this time I had to fight for it. Almost 65% of models who participated last year didn’t make it through this year. So there are a lot of new faces. The competition was tough this year. We were expected to put on our best, right from casting.”
He disclosed that walking the AFW runway has opened doors for him, adding that after his feature last year, he landed some TV commercial deal in addition to recently featuring in an ad for Trophy beer and Google.
“They saw my picture on the runway and they called me up.”
Fashola is hoping that he will also be signed to international model agencies.
The show was also garnished with the screening of Seven Mothers, a film by Pyer Moss produced by Director X.
This year’s event featured the following designers: Turfah, Torlowei, Tzar Studios, Clan, Papa Oppong, Tokyo James, Nkwó, Paradis, Maisonnettes ARTC, Andrew Iyamah, Yutee Rone, Robert Cavalli, Selan Fessahaye, Mai Atafo, Deola Sagoe, Gozel-Green, Lanre da silva Ajayi, Kenneth Ize, Style Temple, Loza Maleombho, Lulu, Shem Paronelli, WUMAN, Tiffany Amber, Esteban, Mwinda, Mowalola, Asai, U.MI.1, Bridget Awosika, Bethany Williams, Okunoren, Rich Minsi, Ituen Basi, Odio Mimonet, Pyer Moss and Ahluwalia Studios.