In September 2022, five emerging designers from Africa will present their collections at a fashion show at the prestigious Salomon de Rothschild hotel in Paris. They are the finalists of the second edition of the Africa Fashion Up competition, initiated by the collective Share Africa.
To select these winners, a call for applications was launched from April 15 to June 10. “After the call for applications, the profiles were sent to the judges so that they could each select five finalists. Subsequently, a deliberation meeting was organized to collegially choose the “African Designer of the Year”, as well as the four other finalists who will have the opportunity to participate in the fashion show and attend the training program and visits in September in Paris. to FashionUnited, Fatima Simakan, project manager marketing and communication of Share Africa. “The jury will meet at the end of June to appoint the finalists, who will then be announced in July. In the summer they follow a preparation program for their arrival in Paris. The parade will take place on September 16.
To make its choice, the jury bases itself on the quality of the works presented, the career path and professional experience, the professionalism of the visuals provided, the style and the sources of inspiration. Being able to design and market the collections is also an important point in the final choice. Among the judges, international experts and professionals from companies such as L’Oréal Professionnel, Balenciaga, Galeries Lafayette, Sisley and the bureau Karla Otto. But for the time being, no name has been communicated yet: “The jury members have already been identified, but we don’t want to reveal them right away. They are presented when they have made their choice. However, we can say that they are great personalities in the world of fashion and cosmetics with extensive experience in the industry,” says Fatima Simakan.
Another look at African fashion
In 2021, the Africa Fashion Up competition was born. The first edition was won by Nigerian designer Emmanuel Okoro with his Emmy Kasbit brand. “We continue to work with him regularly and follow in his footsteps. Since then, his participation in last year’s fashion show and the mentorship he received through the Africa Fashion Up program have enabled him to gain visibility in Europe. He will attend are at the Africa Fashion Up 2022 show as a confirmed designer,” announces the project manager.
The creation of the competition started from an observation: “The African fashion industry is constantly evolving and a new culture is flourishing, driven by young designers who want to do things their own way. The latter, based for the most part in Africa, compete in the quality and beauty of their creations with designers from all over the world; they must still be able to identify themselves. African creation, still unknown to the general public, is becoming more and more dynamic. The growing influence is not only reflected in the adoption of the codes by Western brands and designers, but also in the emergence and positioning of various African brands on an international scale. Bringing African creation together in Paris, Africa Fashion Up aims to become the showcase for this new fashion, driven by a generation of uninhibited stylists who put boldness, color and originality first, with an approach that is resolutely contemporary.
Behind the project is Valérie Ka, a model of Ivorian descent, who started her career parading for Alphadia, at only 14 years old. “I went to Paris alone when I was 16 and signed a contract with Michel Levaton, the founder of the Metropolitan agency. This gave me the opportunity to parade for Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Lacroix and become the face of many brands (L’Oréal, Black Up, Diesel, Miss Sixty). I’ve been in touch with great western designers throughout my career and I’ve always wanted to help great African talents achieve the same fame. This project is not just mine, it is that of the African continent, of those who believe in change,” Valérie Ka told FashionUnited.
Africa Fashion Up is part of the Share Africa initiative. It is a platform that organizes events and launches projects aimed at highlighting Africa and bringing “a young, creative, innovative and responsible vision of the continent”.