Models on the runway; Malawi getting the international spotlight, dresses with bottle-tops, hats made of chicken feathers, purely an eclectic mix of colourful, imaginative prints, bursting with gorgeous tailored looks.
Clothes from locally sourced fabrics and timeless shapes to compliment any figure, overstated ruffles, exaggerated A-line dresses, high pencil skirts coupled with tailored jackets, splash dresses and skirts with edgy cuts and bright injections of colour, mix and match materials designs, bold and unique whilst also remaining easy to wear.
It was a taste of Victorian grandeur. But that was in 2013, a sweet story that attracted the attention of many—both local and international as Malawi hosted its first-ever fashion week.
However, the country’s couture trends stagnated if not taking one big downward curve as there has not been any big national event that took place in the year going by.
More than a dozen designers took part in the fashion week, showcasing chic but affordable clothing in Malawi. The event ended with a promise that the fashion week will return on the ramp in 2014.
Initially, organisers announced that another week of glamour and beauty in fashion design returns in July. Themed Fashion Grace, there has been no word as to what went wrong for the event to perhaps die a natural death.
But of course new designers in the name of Purity Kasambara of Adamz Needle, Sadia Mustafa of Mafrika and House of Miizu by Lillian Koreia have come with splendid designs in this year.
The Malawi fashion industry has gradually outgrown the borders of the country and is steadily competing with other international fashion industries.
Arguably Malawi’s top fashion designer Lilly Alfonso within the course of the year opened the country’s first ever fashion studio, where she is doing different clothes and accessories under her LA label.
This is on top of her continued exploits on the international scene where she participated in different events including Nigeria, US, Spain as well as being nominated as one of the top ten fashion designers in Africa among other feats.
Malawi again returned into fashion reviews, as its inspired designer Mia Nisbet showcased at the prestigious Africa Fashion Week London this year.
The collection of 10 outfits based on fusing up-cycled fabrics with Chitenje sourced in Malawi was a plus for the country. The recycled clothes are locally known as ‘kaunjika’ and Mia inspiration to design a mix of modern and traditional wear came from the beautiful visual as Malawians mix the two worlds together.
After winning this year’s $2 500 cash prize and fashion training in the Netherlands in the Vlisco Fashion Fund, a young fashion designers contest in Africa, Ghana based Malawian designer Alinafe Misomali got the opportunity to promote her brand ‘Alinafe’ at Glitz Africa Fashion Week. She became the first Malawian designer to showcase at this annual event held in Accra, tailored to provide a platform for Africa’s fashion industry and to showcase its talent and creativity.
She also showcased her designs at the Dutch Fashion and Design Week.
Malawi celebrated 50 years of self rule in 2014. For sure, there was so much that designers and creative heads in the fashion industry would have come up with. But there is little if not nothing to show.
The possibility of having two big national fashion events, Malawi Fashion Week and Fame was more than exciting news but none has seen the light of day. Even with repeated assurances from Fame, nothing is coming from the geniuses and perhaps should people forget about Fame after 2012?
The goal was to progress the fashion industry that is fast booming with the coming of more designers apart from Rose Kaleke, Lucy Nkhonjera, Lilly Alfonso which can be regarded as the pioneers of Malawi fashion.
For the first time since inception four years ago, Sand Festival this year incorporated fashion on this year’s event.
Dubbed the Sand festival red carpet fashion show, the fashion showcase was aimed at promoting budding designers and for sure it lived to its word as up and coming designers got the much needed recognition.
The pomp that Malawi left 2013 to this year with seemed more than enough motivation to designers and fashion event organisers to do more for the country to continue climbing the ladder.
However, that is all Malawi can show for 2014 in terms of fashion. Is this motivation for fashionistas, aficionados, socialites and all to look forward to 2015?