ARISE Magazine presents African Icons @ MBFW

The start of NYFW kicked off with the ARISE Magazine Fashion Show which celebrated the designs of not only the motherland, but 5 unique designers who have decided to share their talent with the world.

Ozwald Boateng (UK/Ghana)

“An Elegance that Comes from Inside” – Giorgio Armani on Ozwald Boateng, 2009

Celebrating over 25 years in fashion, Ozwald Boateng conceived a new silhouette, function and palette for international menswear; creating a concept of style and luxury for men not previously envisaged but desired by men everywhere.

Born in London, Ozwald Boateng was inspired by the immaculate suits his father wore. Later, he would fall in love with an artist and helping her finish her collection for a fashion show, he had a foresight of his future. Following this vision, he sold his first collection to a menswear shop in Covent Garden. He was only 16. After spending time with Tommy Nutter, the iconic tailor for the Beatles and the Stones, Ozwald Boateng visualised his future: he would have a shop on Savile Row that would offer ‘bespoke couture’, suits an expressive cut that would enhance the wearer’s spirit and character. Ozwald Boateng began working earnestly towards his goal opening a studio on the Portobello Road in 1991. Recognizing the potential that English tailoring could have on the world’s fashion scene, Ozwald Boateng staged his first catwalk presentation during Paris Fashion Week in 1994 introducing “Classic with a Twist” to the world and becoming the first English Tailor to do so. The success was felt immediately and his boutique was opened on at the south end of Savile Row, in 1995.

In 2003 Ozwald was appointed the first Creative Director at Givenchy Homme, part of the LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate. This huge success relaunched the now hugely successful menswear brand. In 2007 Ozwald Boateng relocated its flagship store and HQ to a prominent location at 30 Savile Row. Designed with David Adjaye, the flagship store is the blueprint for the global expansion.
In parallel to his career in fashion, Ozwald Boateng has demonstrated his creativity through film. He is known for opening each fashion show with a short film depicting the essence of the collection. His skills in writing and directing short films have been critically acclaimed and awarded. Ozwald Boateng’s innovative approach to design has attracted a number of high profile collaborations, such as Coutts & Co, Johnnie Walker and Virgin. He is now completing a stunning conception for Aston Martin that will be on the roads from September 2012. Ozwald Boateng’s journey through life over the past 12 years has been documented by Robert Redford on House of Boateng a series for USA, Why Style Matters by the BBC and now a feature film ‘A Man’s Story’. The highly anticipated film will be premiered in London this year with its Premiere in New York with one of his iconic catwalk shows this Autumn.

Design Philosophy
Ozwald’s appreciation of tradition and intrinsic understanding of contemporary design define his distinctive approach to tailoring. He has fused expert cutting skills with a sublime use of colour and deep textures. Exquisite artistry meets innovative classicism. The result is luxury menswear of the finest quality. Ozwald Boateng’s design evokes the essence of a man’s spirituality and character through the enhancement of the physical being.

“I want to support the important work ARISE is doing for African fashion.” Ozwald says. “It’s good to help bring the stylistic messages of the AMFW experience of Lagos to New York. I have a good following in the States and have showed solo at NYFW three times…If you’re interested in the American consumer. NYFW is where it’s at.”

Tiffany Amber (Nigeria)
In 1998, Folake Folarin-Coker launched Tiffany Amber, revolutionizing the Nigerian fashion industry. Born in Lagos, Folake schooled in Switzerland, England and Scotland; then relocated to Nigeria in 1998 to become a lawyer. Despite holding a masters degree in Petroleum Law, her love for fashion reigned supreme over all. Having spent most of her childhood in Europe exploring different cultures, she successfully translated her passion to the foremost fashion brand in Africa with outstanding global recognition.

In 2008, in addition to her main line, Folake extended her creative borders by adding two more lines under Tiffany Amber Nigeria; TAN by Tiffany Amber (Diffusion Line) and Folake Folarin (Couture Line). Each line is distinctive but together represents the designer’s iconic style.

In 2008, Folake for the first time, showcased at the Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week in New York. The collection was heralded by such rave review that Folake was invited to showcase for the second time making her the first African-based designer to showcase for two consecutive seasons at the New York Fashion Week.

Folake Folarin-Coker won designer of the year at the African Fashion International (AFI) in 2009 in Johannesburg. The AW 2011 Fearless Luxury collection won “Fashion Brand of the year” at the Arise Magazine Fashion Week. The brand is, without a doubt, fast becoming the premier African lifestyle brand.

Thirteen years after launching her label, Folake has become a mainstay in the fashion industry as she continues to develop a strong design philosophy by staying true to her vision of a true woman.

“I have a special place in my heart for AMFW shows.” says Tiffany. “It felt surreal to walk down the runway at the first show in February 2009…like we were at a party thrown by the world. I loved it and can’t wait to do it again…”

Tsemaye Binitie (UK/Nigeria)
Tsemaye Binitie (Shey-ma-yeh Bee-nee-tee-ay) launched his namesake label in 2010. It is a contemporary fashion label, characterized by exquisite clothing encapsulating a love of luxury and innovative design. Meticulous cut, indulgent fabrics and sartorial construction permeates the delivery sharp, refined, and timeless pieces. Each collection features dynamic, draped and body conscious silhouettes with a deep desire to communicate a new sense glamour and a modern elegance.
Tsemaye graduated from Kingston University London in 2004, by which time he had completed an internship with John Richmond. A signature style of un-abashed glamour and attention to detail techniques developed from creating his final collection. Spending time on the selling floor at Burberry as a personal shopping specialist allowed Tsemaye the opportunity to handle final product ranges and build a sound background and understanding within the luxury goods market. After attaining a position on the design team at Stella McCartney in 2004, Tsemaye went on to develop his design skills focusing on construction and tailoring to creating fully marketable collections. He joined the business at a crucial moment and was in a position to observe the beginnings of a global luxury brand.

The Tsemaye Binitie woman is a modern icon of strength, beauty, and glamour. The collections appeal to her as she has a strong understanding of self, appreciating the complex and hidden details behind the simplicity of the pieces.
The SS13 collection is called ‘American Beauty’. In starting my research I stumbled across a book of the same name by Clairborne Swanson Frank and fell in love with her motivation in putting her portraits of ‘Accomplished’ American women into one coffee table book. It triggered a chain of thought that led me to look at the ‘Accomplished American Woman’s’ relationship to fashion and clothing over the years. I picked five women that were featured in the book and studied their style, which then formed the various themes within the collection. Jenna Lyons creative director at J Crew is practical and pragmatic, she mixes feminine with masculine, and she is quite casual in her approach to fashion but always very stylish. Joan Smalls a very successful model is a natural beauty who travels the globe but still always manages to look strong, sexy and rock and roll. Serena Nikkah is fashion publicist originally from London. She has quite a classic approach to fashion, a transplanted Chelsea girl living in New York. Lauren Santo Domingo founder of Moda Operandi and a Vogue contributing editor has a somewhat outrageous approach to fashion and channels a modern elegance. New kid on the block Lily Kwong is a philanthropist and Colombia graduate that has an effortless air and quick wit. She is a California girl at heart with a very refined aesthetic who loves to mix high and low.

For Spring Summer 13, the silhouettes have been streamlined and focused. Dresses are the key product from Tsemaye Binitie London so this season we are giving our clients more to choose from. We are also still focused on our separates and for the first time we are introducing shorts into the collection. Fabrics will range from our signature washed silk crepe to leather, silk organza, and georgette lame, silk taffeta and high tech viscose twills. Laser cutting and appliqué embroidery will add that special touch.

Tsemaye Binitie was in February 2012 named by industry website fashion etc as one of five designers to watch for New York Fashion week A/W 12 and In March 2012 was awarded Womens-wear designer of the year by Arise magazine.

“From the backstage production and calibre of models, to working with world-class stylists and make-up artists – and being at the Lincoln Center… It’s all wow!”

Maki-Oh (Nigeria)

Maki Osakwe studied at the Arts University College at Bournemouth where she obtained a BA (Hons) in Fashion Studies. Her passion for couture and culture inspires her artisanal collections, as she believes cultural heritage must be kept alive. Sustainability and ethical practices are also principles she strongly embraces

The Maki Oh design ethos is to challenge prevailing notions of beauty. It aspires to initiate a continuous recognition and appreciation for self and individuality through fashion. Aroused by a strong sense of identity and culture, the brand creates alluring conversational pieces that fuse traditional techniques with detailed construction.

The essence of the label stretches beyond physical beauty to a textured, layered and three dimensional aesthetic, embodying the philosophies of preservation, strength, movement and complex simplicity. The seduction of Maki Oh is in its unison of emotion, intuition, sex and fashion.

“I have put my ‘AMFW Designer of the Year’ Award on my dining table, beside an amethyst candle holder and other awards I’ve won,”  says Maki. “I’m excited about the whole line-up ARISE has chosen. Great times ahead…”

Gavin Rajah (South Africa)

Gavin Rajah is an entrepreneur in the world of fashion and marketing. Gavin Rajah as a brand is synonymous with discerning style, and is a household name in SA. Collaboration with micro-economic projects specialising in traditional skills and crafts are his passion and he is constantly seeking ways in which to promote this to the rest of the world. His work has featured in international publications such as L’Officiel, Milano Finanza, icon, Luna, Avant Garde, Harper’s & Queen, Uomo Collezioni, London Sunday Times, London Financial Times, The Face, Donna, Citizen K, BBC, CNN and the Los Angeles Times. His interests range from socio-political theory to esoteric psychology. He has dressed Naomi Campbell, Beyonce, Jodie Kidd, Tina Turner, Paris Hilton, Celine Dion, Tom Cruise, Nelson Mandela, Cameron Diaz amongst other celebrities. He has designed jewellery collections for The Tanzanite Foundation, De Beers and AngloGold Ashanti.

He has been the only African to speak at the Global Luxury Goods Conference in Milan and his paper on “Creating an Identity in Design: South Africa the future of fashion?” made headlines in the Wall St Journal and Milano Finanza. He was invited by the Federation Française de la Couture to show in Paris in July 2006, which was a first for South Africa.

Gavin started and funded Cape Town Fashion Week. Gavin also fought a landmark case in preventing the trademark and registration of the words ‘fashion week’ and which allowed the formation of other fashion weeks in the country. This was a principled action against the intended control of fashion by a single entity in SA and he ended up winning against the plaintiff and the Registrar of Trademarks and Patents in SA after their motion was withdrawn.

Gavin is strong on mentorship and in 2007 chose to mentor 4 black South African designers (David Tlale, Craig Jacobs, Thula Sindi & Thabani Mavundla) and took them to Paris to showcase their work. He continues to work with young designers in helping them start their careers in fashion by taking on young designers to mentor and train in his studio in Cape Town. Gavin serves on the board of the Cape Town Fashion Council.

He has conceptualised and initiated POSI+IVE for Sun International, the largest Pan African collaboration of art, fashion and music; an event which aims at raising money for HIV/AIDS causes.

The United Nations has appointed him a UNICEF Ambassador for the work he has done to uplift the lives of vulnerable communities in South Africa and with this appointment he joins the ranks of Roger Federer, Shakira, Ricky Martin and Angelique Kidjo in working for children’s causes.

FinWeek has listed him as one of the top 40 most influential leaders in the South Africa.

Gavin has branched out into corporate identity development, corporate wardrobe, interiors and luxury amenities under his own brand name. He is also consulting to numerous companies on design concept for hotels, spas and restaurants and is fast becoming known as a “concept specialist”.

“I was so excited to show in Lagos as it’s a city leading economic growth in Africa.” Gavin says.  “I received amazing feedback and loved the energy. My US clients appreciate my craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. So I’ll be showing a luxe pret-a-porter collection and can’t wait!”

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