Thursday, September 29, 2022

Burkina Faso fashion designers: more for the nation than for the struggle

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso ( Associated Press) — Vibrant African clothing, both traditional and contemporary, enlivened the catwalks at Burkina Faso’s Fashion Week.

The designers say they are attempting to make the West African country known as a booming fashion hub, to offset its reputation for its recent coup and ongoing conflict with Islamic extremists. Some shows were held on a central street in the capital, Ouagadougou, where residents lined up to see model strut designs for women and men.

The tiny West African nation hosted its third Augah Fashion Week – the first time since the pandemic forced its delay. A colorful four-day show concluded on Sunday amid jihadist violence linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group that has killed thousands.

When there were frequent power cuts in the capital, models and designers used the lights of their cell phones to apply makeup and fix their hair.

Some 35 designers, selected from around 200 applicants from West Africa and Europe, displayed their clothes in the capital, Ouagadougou. Most of the first-time designers, about 75%, were from Burkina Faso, said event director Alex Zbasnare.

“Burkina is one of the African countries that has great potential to offer fashion… that is why I set up this project to expose Burkina designers and get them recognized internationally.” They said.

Among many of the designs were traditional, hand-woven Faso Dan Fani dresses made from Burkina Faso cotton, which Zabsnare says has been worn by celebrities including singer Beyonce and fashion designer, Stella McCartney. According to the United Nations, the country is one of the top 10 cotton exporters in the world, accounting for an average of 3% of global exports since 2000.

Korotimi Dao, a fashion designer and founder of Koro DK Style, said that fashion has evolved in the country in recent years, making people more clothing conscious.

“Fashion Week is not a challenge, it is an opportunity to hope that everything can be perfect again,” she said.

Since 2017 the EU has given $10 million to the Ethical Fashion Project, which has created hundreds of jobs for marginalized women and linked Burkina Faso producers and designers with eminent fashion and interior designers, Wolfram Vetter, in textile and creative Helps professionalize the industry. The EU ambassador to Burkina Faso told the Associated Press.

Mallika Choudhary, Founder and Director, UK-based womenswear brand INDOI said, “It is time for these unrecognized artisans to play a role in the global fashion sector so that these crafts, traditions and cultures survive.” “We need to celebrate, revive and sustain local crafts where designers and makers work together so that we can move towards a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry.”

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