Arise magazine's spring 2013 show for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center featured five fashion icons: Oswald Boateng (UK and Ghana), Tiffany Amber (UK and Nigeria), Maki Oh (Nigeria), Gavin Rajah (South Africa) and Tsemaye Binitie (UK and Nigeria). On the runway, the clothes were spectacular. The folks in the audience were dressed in their best, too, and the photographers had a field day.
"There has been a surge of interest from around the world, including major UK and American brands, which is why we want to continue to give designers from Africa and the Diaspora an opportunity to be out on the world's fashion map," commented Nduka Obaigbena, Arise's founder. "Once more, we are proud to be associated with nurturing new designers, and we will continue to support those more-established designers."
Celebrating over 25 years in fashion, Boateng conceived new silhouettes for his international menswear line. "I want to support the important work Arise is doing for African fashion. It's good to help bring the stylish messages of the AMFW [Arise Magazine Fashion Week] experience of Lagos to New York," said Boateng.
His looks are certainly fashionable and functional in a wonderful palette. For men, he created a concept of style and luxury. Born in London, Boateng was inspired by the suits worn by his father. Following his vision, he sold his first collection to a menswear shop in Covent Gardens when he was 16. His design philosophy includes an appreciation and intrinsic understanding of contemporary designs that define his distinctive approach to tailoring. He has fused expert cutting skills with a sublime use of color and deep textures. In his collection, exquisite artistry meets innovative classicism.
Rajah is an entrepreneur in the world of fashion and marketing. As a brand, Gavin Rajah is synonymous with discerning style, and it is a household name in South Africa. He specializes in traditional skills and crafts, and he is constantly working on ways to promote his line to the world. He has designed jewelry collections for the Tanzanite Foundation, DeBeers and AngloGold Ashanti.
In 1998, Folarin-Coker launched Tiffany Amber, revolutionizing the Nigerian fashion industry. Born in Lagos, Folarin-Coker was educated in Switzerland, England and Scotland to become a lawyer, and then relocated to Nigeria.
"I have a special place in my heart for AMFW shows. It felt surreal to walk the runway at the first show in 2009. It was like we were at a party thrown by the world. I loved it and couldn't wait to do it again," remarked Folarin-Coker. Despite holding a degree in petroleum law, her love for fashion reigned supreme. Having spent most of her childhood in Europe exploring different cultures, she successfully translated her passion to the foremost fashion brand in Africa with outstanding global recognition.
Binitie launched his namesake label, a contemporary fashion label, in 2010. He's known for meticulous cut and indulgent fabrics, and sartorial construction permeates the delivery in sharp, refined and timeless pieces. Each collection features dynamic, draped and body-conscious silhouettes with a deep desire to communicate a new sense of glamour and a modern elegance.
The Maki Oh design ethic is to challenge prevailing notions of beauty. It aspires to initiate a continuous recognition and appreciation for self and individuality through fashion. Aroused by a strong sense of identity and culture, this brand creates alluring conversational pieces that fuse traditional techniques with detailed construction. The essence of the label stretches beyond physical beauty to a textured, layered and here-dimensional aesthetic. The seduction of Maki Oh is a fusion of emotion, intuition, sex and fashion.