Dakar Fashion Week
The Dakar Fashion Show was introduced in 2002 by a Senegalese designer named Adama Paris.
The show was created in an effort to highlight local designs and celebrate Senegalese fashion, art, and self-expression. Although its beginnings were humble, it has now become a major platform for not just the Senegalese but for other international designers to showcase their talents. Adama Paris had stated during an Interview 10 years ago, that she started Dakar Fashion Week because she wanted to give African designers a platform to showcase their works in Africa and to showcase their designs to African buyers and viewers.
I’m really happy with where we’re standing now because people know that we’re not only doing it for fashion. I’m a woman of color and I’m sensitive and I do want to fight. Not because I’m black, but for entrepreneurs in Africa, because we need to develop these countries. And we women are a big part of what’s going on in the continent, so this is my part. I love fashion, that’s what I do. That’s why I come back here to Senegal, to help and support, to put Dakar in the spotlight. I think people need to give credit to African women. They’re strong and they stand really tall to pull up their countries and this continent.
This year marked two decades since Adama Paris, the Senegalese designer with a global footprint, launched Dakar Fashion Week, and showcased the work of 20 designers, from Angola, Morocco, Mali, Mozambique, and South Africa to name only a few .The event was held at the weekend in Senegal’s capital with the theme of environmental responsibility. The 20 featured designers showcased their collections – both those on the runway and sold in boutiques. These designs have long been handmade on the continent rather than mass produced in factories.
Amongst the 20 designers that featured in this year’s edition, three prolific designers stood out. Let us meet them.
Karim Tassi from Morocco.
Designer Karim Tassi is from Casablanca, Morocco. His label, which has existed since 1999, reflects mixed contrasts, as well as a blending of world cultures and exotic designs which distinguish him from his contemporaries. Perfectly subtle and delicate, Karim’s all-white S/S 2013 collection showcases a woman assuming and embracing her body. He showcased his designs at the events alongside 10 beautiful talented models who did great justice to the designs by their magnificent catwalk on the runway.
The Moroccan designer had stated during his speech at the event that this year’s particularity is to be in Africa, to bring together all the African designers, each with their own cultural identity, and to be able to put everyone on the same catwalk, that’s what’s magnificent”. The main purpose of the event is to boost the fashion sector in Senegal. Because it already gives audacity to young fashion entrepreneurs to be able to open up much more in this field and to be much more in the thing.
Emmy Kasbit from Nigeria.
Emmanuel Okoro, the award-winning Nigerian designer who founded the brand Emmy Kasbit, is soft spoken. He’s the kind of person who requires you to lean in to make out what he’s saying—a sharp contrast to the vibrant colours in the Spring-Summer 2023 collection he showed at Dakar Fashion Week.
Emmy Kasbit’s work does indeed speak for itself. This year at the Dakar Fashion Show he showcased his Spring-Summer 2023 collection, an homage to the Biafra War, won the inaugural Africa Fashion Up prize, which included mentorship from Balenciaga. The sustainable, Lagos, Nigeria-based brand also recently launched the Emmy Kasbit Initiative that advocates for safe and equitable—including gender equity—working conditions for the artisans and textile workers pivotal to the brand.
The Nigerian fashion designer had mentioned in his speech that being a designer who’s making an impact is much more than designing clothes for money, it’s also about what you’re giving back to society, the causes you’re supporting.
Mimi Plange from Ghana.
Just like Kazim Tassi, Mimi plange showcased her newly created pieces, full flared peach coloured gowns. The beauty of those pieces were pleasant to behold, she had beautiful young black models who modelled the pieces filled with confidence, glory and splendor.
Dakar Fashion Week celebrates fashion, revealing the cultural riches of Africa. Beyond the catwalk to reveal stylists, it is associated with crafts and music at these festive events, with models showcasing beautiful pieces of industry experts in the continent. 15 designers from different parts of the continent, participated in the 10 years anniversary, and now 20 designers in the 20th year edition. This goes to show how broad and global the show has become.
Invitees boarded a ferry to the island and then traipsed throughout the shoreline at sunset for a presentation of 20 designers. Paris knew the outcome of this show would be worth all the extra work. Paris additionally made history this year, producing the first ever Chanel show on the continent.
“I’m completely happy, my baby [Dakar Fashion Week] has grown up and today is a very nice party with 20 exceptional designers. So I can only be happy that this baby has grown and that my dream has become ours”. She continued that “African fashion is inspiring a lot. You have seen Chanel in Dakar and this is not insignificant, and other brands have gone elsewhere in Africa. African fashion is creative, it is diversified, it is beautiful and it is daring.” said Adama Paris during her speech.
We look forward to next year’s edition and hopefully there will be a collaboration with industry experts from other continents, but of course we will leave that to time.