By Kate Morales:

There is a reason we Westerners so often refer to Africa as the dark continent, and it has nothing to do with the climate (lots of sun there) or the people (there are white ones too!) It’s just because we have, as a matter of tradition based on ego-centrism, willfully kept Africa in the dark.

ARISE magazine has made a courageous and gorgeous break from that insulting moniker by creating a classy, edgy, forward thinking periodical that is a platform for promoting designers, musicians, politicians, revolutionaries, and seriously stylish people who make Africa their home.

The magazine’s contribution to NYFW was unforgettable and sure to be largely influential. A number of trendsetting celebrities such as Beyonce, Kelis and Rachel Weiss have donned the threads of the featured designers prior to the showcase, and with this well publicized and documented splash into one of fashion’s most sought after stages, the time is ripe for taking note of what’s being “Made in Africa.”

“Made in Africa” highlighted the collections of 8 high fashion, yet ready to wear designers based in various African countries. Some, such as Lisa Folwiyo of Jewel by Lisa, focus on the traditional Ankara fabrics of the country she calls home – Nigeria. This provides steady and fulfilling work for highly skilled artisans in her native land, but she manages to steer clear of the altruistic gimmick routine by breathing new life into tradition with inventive silhouettes.

Lanre Da Silva’s work left a fluttering sensation in our bellies that had nothing to do with the computer animated butterflies festooning the gigantic LCD runway backdrops, or with her heart stopping spill in curtain call. In a night (and an all around Spring season) littered with eye catching prints, her focus on texture was a welcome surprise.

The show stopping duo of KLûK CGTD stood out elegantly in a night of fashion stand outs. Understated and effortless, yet borne out of harrowing attention to detail, their formal wear had a playful flair that stands perfect for sultry South African nights, or anywhere where undeniable sophistication is accepted. 
Above/Below: Top model Georgie Badiel struts in a Kluk CGTD design.

By breaking fashion boundaries and opening our eyes to a world kept forcefully hush-hush, ARISE assembled an evening of daunting talent and inspiration. The strength and style of the people working on, or featured in, their magazine are a force to be reckoned with. It didn’t take a magnificent showing at NYFW to prove it, but I’m certainly glad they did.

Kate Morales for The Scoop!