Fashion & Beauty

All Things Ankara Fashion Week

September 14, 2015

On Saturday July 25th, my older brother, Mayowa, and I went to the All Things Ankara Fashion Show in Silver Spring, MD. For those who don’t know, ankara is a type of fabric that is really popular throughout Africa and particularly West Africa. It’s known by other names such as Dutch wax print, but ankara is definitely what Nigerians call it. Since ankara has become so famous on the international fashion scene in recent years, some people might just know it as African print.
So back to the show.
A friend of my brother’s had press passes to cover the event, and he wasn’t able to make it so he passed the press pass on to us. Mayowa is really involved in the media and fashion scene around D.C. (you can check out his amazing work here) and you all know I’m into anything Africa so we were both excited to go. It was a full day’s event that included a market place, a fashion show and the launch of LOFA magazine after party. The event was at The Fillmore and they did a great job of fully utilizing that space. It was a fun event that did a great job of showcasing some of the talent in the DMV as far as African fashion goes – and they sprinkled in performances as well. There was a lot going on sha, and I congratulate the organizers for putting it all together.
It really reminded me of an African Night. Those of you who are familiar with African Student Associations will know that a lot of schools’ African societies usually put on an African Night that showcases various aspects of African culture. Often times it’s the organization’s biggest event of the year. They usually include a fashion show, performances, music, dance and an after party. And lots of gorgeously dressed attendees. The All Things Ankara Fashion Show was very much like that.

Mayowa and I got there around 4:50pm as the market place was coming to a close. They had several vendors and one station where a Sierra Leonean woman was selling food. Hint: don’t tell them their rice isn’t jollof rice – they know! Needless to say, the lady side-eyed Mayowa so hard we decided not to buy anything. Most of the vendors there were selling clothing, and accessories but there was one table where a lady was selling kids’ books and another lady was selling energy drinks so it definitely felt like a Mini Market.

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They then cleared the floor and got ready for the fashion show. The red carpet was supposed to be from 7 to 8 and the fashion show was supposed to be from 8 to 10pm. Not unexpectedly, people straggled in late and the models weren’t all quite done up so things didn’t kick off until 9 or so. The DJ did a great job of keeping those hits coming though so there wasn’t too much of a lull. Plus, it gave Mayowa and I a chance to network and meet some really cool people.

We got backstage and were able to chat with some of the models, designers and make-up artists. I also ran into Skye Charlie who was the backstage manager of the show. Kudos to her though because I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’ve managed school fashion shows before and it’s no easy feat. This show had 30 models and 12 designers, and it was quite chaotic backstage. I first met Skye Charlie when I was getting ready to relaunch this blog and I went to her panel discussion on blogging. She’s a super stylish lady and you can check out her work here.

One of the make-up artists I met was Grace. She just got here from Canada and her work was fantastic. Not sure how she managed to concentrate and chat with me, but she did a great job!
My favorite person that I met while we were waiting for the show to start was Chardelle Moore. She is a “multi-talented television personality” and much more. She was there with a camera man from Kali TV, an online T.V. station focusing on the African Diaspora. She looked very glamourous in a dress by one of the designers and was an effervescent presence throughout the night. We chatted a few times and her crew and me and my brother’s crew (aka, the two of them and the two of us) hit it off right away and exchanged contacts. People in this game really got to stick together! My brother did a mini photo shoot for Chardelle on the spot, so everyone was happy. I wish I had gotten a picture with her – I need to get better at that. But I thought she was a very inspirational person and I hope our paths will cross again.

Another T.V. station that was there was Kedu Tv. (Kedu mean ‘Hello’ in Igbo). They were hitting up the red carpet and interviewing people. They had me get on and introduce myself and give a shout out to Kedu T.V. But they shouldn’t have handed me that mic. I took it and ran. Not literally but I called on one beautiful girl in a gorgeous dress that looked like she was about to come on the red carpet anyway and went ahead and introduced her to the camera and just gisted with her like I was the T.V. show host. When I handed them back the mic, the camera guy told me good job, so it must not have been too bad.

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Finally around 9:15 the show kicked off. It turned out that the girl I had interviewed on the red carpet was the show’s host, Raro Lae – haha, whoops. After the introductions, the University of Maryland’s African Dance Team, “Afrochique” performed. I had seen them practicing back stage along with the other dance team that performed later in the show. Mixed in with the 12 designers that were showcased were other performances including Simisola Performing her single “Wake Up” and Hameed performing “Tele” and “Ur Loving.”

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At the end of the fashion show, Nikki Billie Jean, Troy and two other people got on stage to talk about the reasons behind creating All Things Ankara Fashion Show and launching the magazine LOFA. It was really great to hear about their journeys and all the people that had been a part of that. They also told us about an All Things Ankara Ball that will be coming up in October around the time of Nigeria’s Independence Day (whoop whoop). They showed us a small clip from the promo video which featured Jidenna, whose clothes in the video were designed by Timmy Ajulo.

My brother and I ended up not staying for the after party, but I’m glad we were able to attend the rest of the show. I’m looking forward to what they do next year.
Forgive me for these pictures, haha. I’m still working on my photography skills so bear with me. Also, I’m mad because I forget to get a picture of Mayowa’s and my outfits. My brother and I were doing matchy-matchy, and he got a selfie but hopefully I can find a full body picture of us to put on here.

me and mayowa
If you want to know more about the show, various other sites have covered it as well:

Fun fact, they all used photos that Mayowa took!


Thanks for reading and let me know what you enjoy about Ankara and African fashion!
Omolayo Nkem

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