New York Fashion Week kicked off this week and all the top buyers, models, stylists, designers and even the posers have descended upon the Big Apple for the world's biggest fashion party. Just this Thursday, I trekked from Brooklyn to Harlem to check out Zimbabwean designer Evelyn Lambert's debut at the Harlem's Fashion Row showcase. I absolutely loved her beautiful, sexy and Olivia Pope-inspired clothing. Evelyn is on the cusp of joining a growing and elite list of African designers doing the damn thing. With that in mind, I asked some of the most influential people on my radar in fashion, music and the world of celebrity to name just one top African designer to watch for in 2013. Prepare to be amazed folks. And in no particular order, let's dive right in...
Designer: Serwa Duaba
One of the hottest African designers on my radar at the moment is Ghanaian designer, Nelly Aboagye Hagan with her label, Serwa Duaba. She makes stylish and wearable clothes that brings out life and personality to her clients. As someone who covers celebrities in Africa, she first captured my attention with her signature beaded fabrics on Ghanaian socialites and celebrities such as Joselyn Dumas, Naa Ashorkor and others. Now I often find myself asking celebs on red carpets “is that a Serwa Duaba?”, instead of them rather telling me.
Submitted by: Ameyaw Debrah is a Ghana based celebrity reporter and publicist
Designer: Naked Ape
In South Africa it is often difficult to find world class clothing. The imports are low quality, last season hand me downs at exorbitant prices Before the arrival of Zara and Top Shop there was little you could look for in terms of Men's fashion. Yes there were a few local attempts at men's label, but none of the sort of 1st world quality with African inspiration that could hold my attention.
That is, until I met Shaldon Kopman.
He had been a free-lance stylist, then worked at GQ and Elle as their Fashion Editor. Shaldon is now the founder of Naked Ape. It Is Clever. It is Unique. It Is Bespoke. It is Effortlessly cool.
Submitted by: Suede is a corporate entrepreneur who utilizes entertainment to promote social responsibility in Africa.
Designer: Taibo Bacar
There are many great talents in Africa whose works have been a source of inspiration and pride for me. However, for some reason, one designer, Taibo Bacar from Mozambique got my heart this season. I have followed his work for quite sometime now but it wasn't until last October when I got to see his collection first hand on the runway at the African Fashion International in South Africa that I was truly blown away. I admired the workman ship that went into constructing the garments, loved the fabric choices,and awed at all the little details that made his collection special. Taibo Bacar always makes elegant and sexy clothes for women with a touch of glamour.
Submitted by: Rosemary Kokuhilwa is an Ex Model from Tanzania turned Fashion Stylist and Blogger
Designer: Mai Atafo and Kelech Odu
My favorite African designers are Mai Atafo Inspired and Kelechi Odu. They are very daring in approach, cut and use of color pallet. I like styles and looks that are very creative. In addition, they are both out of the mold, heard turners and have some quirkiness too. My style icons are Fela, Jimi Hendriz and Lenny Kravitz, to me these are all black men who represent with a cutting edge style in their different eras.
Submitted by: Bez is a critically acclaimed Nigerian artist who blends soul, rock, jazz and R&B to create a sound all his own setting him apart from the mainstream Afro hip movement.
Designer: Christie Brown
I love the work of Christie Brown. Her collections are elegant, fun, classy and relevant. I've sometimes felt that African designers don't push the boundaries enough and shy away from showing off their artistic and creative flair by creating items that are not thought provoking or unique. Instead, too often designers add to an existing style by adding a popular African print. Christie doesn't do this, she is brave and practical but also adventurous in her creations. Christie's designs are eye-catching, feminine and practical. The class in her designs is complimented by her bold innovative imagination and confidence to use a range of colors, prints and materials. Don't believe me... see for yourself....http://christiebrownonline.com/lookbook.html
She has designs that I feel would wow globally without looking like she has tried too hard.
Submitted by: Joanna Abeyie is a showbiz and Entertainment Journalist and Owner of Shine Media.
Now it's your turn to sound off, who are some of your favorite haute African designers?
Makho Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean born celebrity reporter and blogger based in New York City. You can follow her @MakhoNdlovu. To learn more about her, check out her personal blog Makho-Ndlovu.blogspot.com