After a tightly contested general election, whose disputed result had to be settled by the constitutional court, the Zimbabwe Fashion Week struts its stuff on Harare catwalks this week. The fashion extravaganza, which has been blowing hot and cold for the past couple of years, has got a new lease of life. Designers, material suppliers, buyers, models and fashionistas will for the next three days celebrate contemporary African fashion.
The Space in Ballantine Park will be hosting the event. The founder and Executive Producer of Zimbabwe Fashion Week Ms. Priscilla Chigariro, beamed with excitement about the return of the event after a two-year hiatus. “After the 2015 edition of the event, we decided to take a break. In 2018 I was re-inspired and so happy that we have this year’s edition and the team has been working hard to make this event a success. That’s why we are running with the theme ‘Rebirth’,” she said.
“We will be having 16 shows between Thursday and Saturday and free workshops for up-coming designers and models in the afternoons. This year we have been graced by designers from America and Europe, some of whom are Zimbabweans based in the diaspora. We are also celebrating the launch of the Domino magazine, which in itself is a piece of art, a collector’s item,” she added.
Antoinette Marie Joseph Norris, who has her own fashion label, the Antoinette Marie Collection based in Cape Town, will be mentoring young designers on how to build their brands. “My message to the young people is to be patient and stay true to themselves,” she said. “There is so much talent in Zimbabwe and designers need to know that you can actually make a decent living from fashion.”
American designer Mickey Freeman will be exhibiting his kilt wear for men. “I am enjoying my African experience though I feel it’s a bit more conservative. I will be showing my kilt wear for men which are similar to cargo pants,” he said. “ My brand is called ‘Freemen by Mickey’.” Mickey is also a stylist who has worked with musicians.
Husband and wife team Ubaid and Khadija Khan, who run Galleria, will showcase their women’s and men’s collection. “Our handmade collection includes jackets, jeans and tops,” they said. “We actually have a shop where we sell what will be shown on Friday,” said the Zimbabwe couple, who were trained in France. Khadija draw a beautiful mural specifically for the show.
Butterfly Zimbabwe a brand ran by Ordeal Dube and Charlene Mirza, will be showing off its lady’s African wear and men’s niche metrosexual male. “Our designs are for the plus size African woman because what’s good for a slim person doesn’t always work for a curvy lady,” they said.
Model Lanky Liam John Hall spoke of the support he got from his mother, “My mother has been my number one fan, while others it’s 50/50,” he said. “ I am passionate about modelling and hope to branch out into presenting and acting. It’s not easy being a model as you break even.”
Another model, Sane, didn’t hide the difficulty of being a model in Zimbabwe, “My father did not like what I do but gave me a blessing before he died, while the rest of my family are vehemently against it,” she said. “I actually had to lie to come to this event but this is because I am passionate about what I do and I see a future for me here.”
High fashion in Zimbabwe is a niche market where designers engage directly with their customers. The circuit is small and many designers struggle to make a living out of fashion because custom-made clothes are out of reach for the majority of Zimbabweans.
Photo credit: ZHOU MEDIA HOUSE