For those who haven't been to Africa before, the images of mud huts, free roaming lions and the dangers of hyenas getting into the food store at night are often notable fixations in your minds. For those of you who have been on safaris in South Africa or Kenya perhaps have only had those beliefs reinforced. As a young, mixed race female from both Nigeria and Scotland, the amount of times I've genuinely been asked how far I have to walk every day to just pump myself clean water is insane and the amount of people that looked horrified at the thought that the only animals roaming the streets are some stray dogs and a few chickens here and there - no lions, no wildebeests and no giraffes. If it's the wildlife you're looking for, a game reserve is best. You'll ride around in a topless jeep, maybe with a pair of battered binoculars and feel like something off of The Wild Thornberrys on Nickelodeon. However, if you've come here today for a daily dose of fashion (I'm sure there's a travel blog a couple of doors down the road), then look no further than the thriving cities of Africa.
Speaking from experience, I see pure gold in the style potential of growing cities like Lagos, Nigeria. Markets boast a wealth of colours and printed materials that most designers are only beginning to experiment with. An abundance of experienced tailors and machinists in most cities allows room for budding entrepreneurs to set their fashion houses in motion and there are hardly any boundaries as to what is conventionally fashionable.
But what is it that impresses me the most? Arise Magazine (brought to readers by This Day newspaper and many other sponsors). Like our very own Vogue, it features editorial spreads, moving biographies and fashion forecasts. Articles and interviews are based on anyone from up and coming designers to big names like Azzedine Alaia and Mary J Blige or rising African talents like D'banj, Dr Sid and Wande Coal. Don't forget your culture fix, the mag is always up to date with world news, art and social awareness. So, what isn't there to like about it? Well, if you negatively count the fact that, 10 years from now, the fashion buzz may have moved firmly off of Europe, then Arise Magazine Fashion Week will have you clawing at your pointy, pastel pumps. Just like in any other fashion week, a breathtaking catwalk display captured the hearts of fearless fashionistas in Lagos 2 weeks ago. Even Ozwald Boateng put on a show! I missed it, for which I am truly bitter, but here are some of my favourite pieces from the week:
Jewel by Lisa
House of Nwocha
It may not be Nigerian Independence Day or African Awareness Week but, after seeing the phenomenal talent that has come out of such an underrated continent, I think it's time to show pride in our culture and wave the flag for designers and couturiers that are no longer laying under the radar.
The magazine is sold nationwide, so, if you can't get your hands on a copy, don't be worried about missing out! Keep up with Arise on Twitter and Facebook.
Pictures courtesy of the Arise website.
P.s. make sure you use the links in my posts - it'll send you on to loads more information!