Hub of Africa Fashion Week

By Nathan Seyoum, November 01 2019

It was day 2 at the Hub of Africa Fashion Week here in Addis. The weekend is at its cusp and you can feel the aura of impending fun creeping among the few people gathered around the foyer at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. I arrived around 05:30 pm. I was early. The time allotted for the fashion show was at 7 in the evening. As time passed, the number of attendees grew. And turned into a crowd.

The organizers were bustling around the main room. I took to the minibar where cocktails were being served, waiting for the fashion show scheduled to start in a few minutes. Two beautiful women enmeshed in green, ushered and offered cold Heineken Beer with its light green majesty. The Hyatt couldn’t help itself but exudes luxury then anoints it. I made my way around. The gas light was fuming, presenting the exhibit down the path. There were lines of different foot wares and clothes from Ethiopian and international designers and fashion lines. Time struck 7:10 pm. The call was made. The main show of the night was about to start.

The large Romanesque doors finally gave way to the secret domain of the main hall. People swarmed in, and the anticipation in the air was palpable. Inside the hall was a sense of minimalist expressionism. It was a design of some sort created to allure. Indigo casts were seen in the background with kaleidoscopic projections enshrined on white canvas on each side of the stage. The white chairs faced the runway with the lights pointed towards it.

The host for the night was Kenny Allen. He was poised to go. He introduced the founder and the CEO of the event, Mahlet TekleMariam to start the show. “Africans should drive the African fashion industry,” She remarked. “With nine years behind its back, HAFW has showcased over 100 African designers over the years” She added. It truly proved to be the hub of African designers that night.

The tempo was set with the performing DJ and the models took to the stage. The first model to walk had on a white satin dress with Habeshan embroidery and cultural connotations. It was Setet designs by Helen Asrat. There were different inspirational pieces displayed during the night. Designers who showcased their works during the night included Fozia Endrias, Lulit, Ejig Tibeb, Nasra Mustafa, Suuha Schmitz, and Deepa Dosaja.

One Cameroonian designer stole the show, however, as she had her models dance to an African track instead of the usual catwalk. Not only was that entertaining, but it was also a fresh approach to showcase her work and set the mood dial to the max in the fun-o-meter.

The clock struck 8:45 pm. It was time for a 30-minute break. People gathered outside the hall as they started nibbling on the finger foods and guzzling them down with their cocktails and beer. Just outside the hall were displays of gowns of celebrities worn in movies and film premieres. Gowns from celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and others were there along with their descriptions. Cool.

For all its glamour and panache, the show was humbling in a way that African designers are making stuff that they want. You can see their inspirations and aspirations in every thread, fabric, and cloth they displayed. Not only was it beautiful to watch, but it was also informative in that there are diverse and rich cultures in Ethiopia and the continent as a whole. And there are various interpretations of those cultural varieties.

The show was coming to a close. Kenny took to the stage and thanked the audience for their support and added the show would continue the next day. I looked left and right. Everyone seemed satisfied with the night. So was I. More of this tomorrow? Count me in!

Photos by: Anteneh  Girma, Abyissinia Photographers Hub