Arts & entertainment - International - Panafrica - Fashion
FIMA 2009: The new international fashion trend will be African
The seventh edition of the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) 2009, ended Sunday in Niger. This latest edition focused on the professionalism and talent of African designers, as it also marks the beginning of a much needed awareness about the urgency of promoting the economic role of the fashion industry.

The seventh edition of the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) 2009, ended Sunday in Niger. This latest edition focused on the professionalism and talent of African designers, as it also marks the beginning of a much needed awareness about the urgency of promoting the economic role of the fashion industry.

African fashion is doing well and is gearing up to hit the international scene. This leitmotiv has become the driving force for both established designers and young artists alike who took part in the "L’Afrique est à la mode — Africa is fashionable," competition, organized by Culturesfrance, at the 2009 International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA). A flood of creativity and know-how flooded "La Pilule", the chosen site for the seventh edition of FIMA, situated at the Gorou Kirey village, 15 km outside Niamey, the capital of Niger. The festival ended on Saturday night in an apotheosis of colour, style and elegance with over twenty African designers taking part. Ivorian designer, Gilles Toure chose "Pink Zebra" for his women while Franco-Cameroonian Imane Ayissi opted for "In The Voodoo Mood". Voodoo dolls adorned the designer’s flawless black and white robes. Sobriety defined Senegalese, Colle Ardo Sow’s presentation, which gave priority to women and men adorned in majestically woven long black pieces, illuminated by colourful geometric shapes in pan African colours of Red, Yellow and Green. Bazem’Se from Burkina Faso takes his turn as he sublimates women by wrapping them in the delicate softness of organic cotton. His compatriot Korotimi Decherf does the same using the magic the danfani Faso, another unique fabric from Burkina Faso.

Ghanaian designer, Benedict showcased an agitated and yet a colourful and vibrant urban collection. D. Anderson from the Ivory Coast, trasforms the women into voluptuous insects who eventually mutate into an unrestrained red and gold bling from his compatriot Patrick Asso. Ivorian-Lebanese Elie Kuami continued with the metamorphosis, while ensnaring women into hand embroidered bustiers within a sensual and curvaceous fairytale setting. Finally, with their waists deliciously wrapped in Kente, women find wisdom and a near virginal purity in lace designs by French-Martinique (Caribbean) designer Paul Herve Elizabeth. It is a harmonious showcase of Africa and its diaspora through its fabrics and ingenuity.

Changing times

The "new fashion trend will come from Africa," says M’Sa Sakina, designer of Comorian descent, and artistic director of the "Africa is fashionable" competition which handed awards to its young designers. "The idea behind this competition is to support an African fashion that can compete on the international level, economically, so that it is no longer relegated to exotic museum objects. I am sure I’ll be taken for a crazy person, considering the economic situation of Africa. But today, the eyes of the world have turned to Africa. The Humaneness, fantasy, creativity of the continent can only bring a breath of fresh air to the industry." Renewal embodies the 10 finalists of "Africa is fashionable/Afrique est à la mode" who worked around the chosen theme of "transition": the transition that African creativity must go through to earn its place in the world. Creating is without a doubt the buzz word, but it must be "useful, commercial and wearable”, Ivorian-Burkina designer Pathé’O and jury member of the competition advised the candidates. The three finalists perfectly incorporated the economic aspect of the industry into their art.

Charlotte Mbatsogo, 24, representative of Cameroon, came third. A fresh design school graduate, it was her second participation in the competition. For her, transition means, "on the one hand, breaking down and restructuring traditional clothing to reach new forms and volumes, and on the other hand to put Africa at the international level." The second finalist Salah Barka, 34, a Tunisian expresses an alternative vision. "I saw Africa through broad themes such as economics, art, health, science. Transition for me is a combination of all these details, an artistic point of view, economic, before planning, I start from the African reality. A dress adorned with a military beret represents both a Masai warrior and the numerous conflicts that have plagued parts of the continent. But the rest of the garment shows that Africa is not confined to that." For the South African Thokozani Maithya Mbatha, aka Black Pepper, 29, winner of the "Africa is fashionable” award, it was all about "reviving the ’Safari spirit’ through his creations. "I wanted the world to realize that the Safari spirit lives on, that it is renewed and modernized. It belongs to Africa but it should not be confined to Africa. I want to make it a lifestyle, an international label.

The 11th anniversary of Fima focused on fashion as an engine for development in Africa. "We can not continuously create things that we can not sell, especially in a difficult economic context" hammered Pathé’O. Considered as one of the gurus of African Fashion, Pathé’O believes that it is imperative for African designers to live from their art and help with the growth of their continent.


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