Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) is Europe’s largest catwalk event of African and African-inspired design. A collaborative catwalk and exhibition, AFWL highlights the industry’s established and emerging African designers. StyleAble caught up with three exhibitors to talk industry, design and more…
Sherene Melinda is a South African company that specialises in luxury leather bags – from clutch and crossbody to tote and multiway. (Voted the best exhibition stand at Africa Week London 2015). Sherene runs her designer handbag store from the UK, we asked her what she thought about the London fashion scene and which designers had influenced her taste. She said; “I have always had a good eye when looking for new designs, especially for unusual and unique pieces. Having spent many years living in London I have always felt that African inspired fashion has a place here. It certainly does for me. London based handbag designer Anya Hindmarch is a great inspiration to me. She has a very successful multinational business and produces beautifully crafted handbags.”
Good design can be a tricky balance between originality and quality. Sherene says she takes her que from her African roots; “My designs are a fusion of my roots in South Africa and my cosmopolitan lifestyle here in London”, she told us. “This makes my style unique and attractive to many different people for different reasons. I’d like to have a really successful multinational business offering desirable handbags that are unique, fun and very special”.
(Sherene Melinda designs come in a broad range of colours, including royal blue, baby blue, yellow, red, burgundy, purple, pink, rose, burnt orange, lime green, black, natural and sandalwood.)
Caroline Beyll combines classic 1950’s cuts with modern African prints. In short, Caroline Beyll dresses are not your typical high street fare. So, what inspires Caroline to create such beautiful fusion pieces? She says; “I have designed and created what I truly call beautiful dresses. I use UK fabrics and dress sizes, which range from a 10 to a 18. I have created the perfect fit using specialised pattern cutters who have over 50 years of experience, my dresses are produced from a true British Factory based in North London”.
Staying relevant can be a challenge for any designer – especially one who who uses traditional fabric and classic design – Caroline explains how she does it. “It is very important to keep designs unique, fresh and young at heart and spirit. I wanted fun but sophisticated dresses and still wanted to keep the body flattering allure of the 50’s. I accentuate the waist, the fit and flare dresses with a full circle skirt.”
LinDi Mucha is founder and creative director of fashion label House of Mucha. Now based in Hertfordshire, Zimbabwe born LinDi has always had a passion for Afrocentric wear. LinDi says; “I first got into art design whilst in law school. Now I’m planning to study Fashion design at the London College of Fashion. I create unique afro-vintage sophisticated styles which are aimed at both the young and mature generation with a contemporary lifestyle. I’m inspired by my mother’s fashion style from the 1970s. My understanding of vintage design and traditional African styles have led me to create new and elegant AfroVintage”.
So, how does one successfully fuse tradition and modern design?
“I love mixing different fabrics to create trendy styles using distinctive print colors and high quality fabric. This is how I create an intricate fusion of patterns with a rich African aesthetic”, she explained. “I travel frequently to source unique fabric and create employment in developing areas”. (Photo of model in a LinDi Mucha design).
Did you visit Africa Fashion Week London this year? What did you think?