Designers across the continent gravitate towards the whimsical, the opulent, and lots of color.
November 2, 2022
As African Fashion Month drew to a close, with Lagos taking place just last weekend, it became clear that although designers were delivering contrasting messages, they were gravitating towards a similar disposition as we head into 2023. The whimsical, decadent, opulent, colorful, and downright sensational were all in full display across collections at South African Fashion Week in Johannesburg, Glitz Africa Fashion Week in Accra, Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Addis Ababa, and Nigeria’s Lagos Fashion Week. Abstract prints, fabulous pleats, frills, and fringes dominated runways in what were primarily trans-seasonal shows, except for Johannesburg, where SA Fashion Week takes place twice a year and shows focused on the AW '23 season, specifically.
Here’s our curated list of the trends coming out of African Fashion Month that you can get into immediately! Shop the full collection of trends (and more) here.
ALL IN THE SHAPE
From billowing bell sleeves to architectural and crafty shapes, designers went in all directions, carrying through the free-spirited vibe reflected in collections from Bam Collective, Black Coffee, and others. The affinity for form was even reflected in the choice of accessories with styling that included artful capes, hats, earrings, and ruffled sleeves.
From pink to hints of purple and blue—and mostly, a fiery orange hue—color is not to be left behind if these shows are anything to go by. They came in different shades but were cheerful, energetic, and dynamic, with the likes of Simon and Elise, ERRE and Munkus bringing massive doses of feminine flair in playful dresses with high and low hemlines.
COME ON, LET’S PLAY
Speaking of the whimsical, frills, fringes, and pleats took a season that is quite obviously femme-heavy to the extremes of womanly elegance with the likes of Desiree Iyama, Bam Collective, and Fikile Sokhulu making a clear statement about the magic of femininity. Whether it was skirts, shirts, or dresses, the quirk of these playful elements was hard to miss.
Of course! It’s Africa. Are prints not to be expected? Most of what we saw is probably not what you have in mind. Designers went abstract, often creating their own—as the case was with South Africa’s Artclub & Friends. Others manipulated stripes and presented prints you’ve probably seen before in a new light. The tropical atmosphere of Zanzibar was brought to life in the form of Doreen Mashika’s distinct, print-fueled cosmopolitan vibe at Hub of Africa Fashion Week.
Variations on the classic suit have had an impact everywhere lately, demonstrating the menswear-inspired style as a trend with legs. It seems the two-piece staple was on the minds of many designers across the continent, too, with denim cuts, candy-colored types, and distinctly shaped shoulders making it clear that it’s really all about what you feel best suits you.
There’s some sheen and shine to accompany the decadence of indulgent shapes, contrasting the bright hues while being no less playful. It’s a trend that reflects itself in some of the most recent collections from the likes of Fruché, Orange Culture and perhaps, most strongly, Viviers. In addition to some of the other trends coming out of African Fashion Month, the metallics are a surefire indicator that a maximalist approach to dressing is what designers are at least hoping for in the colder months of 2023, but you don’t have to wait that long you can shop all of these trends and more now!
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