The no-nonsense Made in Africa runway show you wished for

Whether it's spotlighting fashion as a form of expression of African cultures, or better still turning African cultural appropriation on its head, the New York Fashion Week's Made in Africa 2020 team understands all too well the vital role each member plays for its envisaged success 

Couture dresses displayed Maxhosa Africa studio in Johannesburg
Maxhosa Africa's distinctly African couture designs will be on show at NYFW. Image: NOWinSA

FOR THE GLOBALLY appraised South African knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo, his goal with the Maxhosa Africa brand has always been about developing a premium brand that celebrates traditional Xhosa aesthetics as it’s about reigniting pride in African cultures, using fashion he says. Come New York Fashion Week 2020 Spring/Summer edition in September, that dream – to produce stylish collectibles which both celebrate and preserve African roots and traditions – still remains as raw and strong as ever.

The Eastern Cape born designer is showcasing under the SiziiKumnkani NeeKumnkanikazi (We Are Kings and Queens) grouping. His collection portrays the regal majesty of Africans and Africa, “the cradle of mankind” as he best puts it. “My desire is to have my work restore dignity to the continent, so that each garment may reflect a modern, current aesthetic, yet, with an ancient philosophy behind my brand, set in our rich African heritage with its observance of ceremony,” he says.

Made in Africa by Africans

A model wearing a handcrafted Maxhosa Africa basket hat and neck piece
Portraying the regal majesty of Africa: Maxhosa Africa

Put together by Namibian born show producer, Jan Malan, who grew up all over South Africa, the date for NYFW’s Made in Africa 2020 has been officially set for Thursday, September 5 at Pier59 Studios, New York at 6PM. The show will see two of Africa’s hottest contemporary designers, including Belgian-born Mozambican designer, Eliana Murargy, bring Africa’s rich culture and legacy – Xhosa-inspired prints, Africa’s vibrant colors, intricate patterns and distinct beadwork – to the prestigious NYFW 2020 S/S runway.

Eliana Murargy’s Made In Africa collection will be on show at NYFW 2020 S/S
Eliana Murargy’s Made In Africa collection will pay homage to Yorùbá women

Coinciding with Women’s month celebrations in South Africa, her collection, “Basking in the Osun River”, pays homage to Yorùbá women, an African ethnic group in western Africa who are believed to yield cosmic powers. Explaining the vision behind her artistry, she says: “The clothing I design reflects an ethereal inner beauty, meant to highlight the beautiful feminine features all the while remaining simple, soft and confident – a tribute to womanhood.”

What’ in store for attendees 

The show is described as the embodiment of creativity and expression with deep African spirituality and ancestral roots, with each grouping spotlighting the African connection between clothing, culture and aesthetics as a means of both beautification and body adornment. As creative director Paul Leisegang points out, the “Made in Africa” is an invitation to sense and experience the culturally appropriate, magical experience of African fashion; the spirit, craft, history and ceremony of these pieces, which have been passed along through the generations. “We want everyone to experience how each designer blends modern African fashion and new technologies with ancient cultural tradition across the collections shown on the runway,” he says.

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