African Inspired Designs at the International Couture Collections

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ean Williams of Corjor International takes a bow

Ok, I promised to bring you video of the DC Fashion Week event finale. Belatedly though I do, here is the quick preview! One of the things I really appreciate about DC Fashion Week is the effort made by Executive Director Ean Williams to include and promote regional designers in this international event. At the International Couture Collections show at the French Embassy, local designers, like Heydari, were front and center along with designers from the Ukraine, Colombia, Yemen (Top Rank – DC based), Guyana (DonJ’ Moda), and the Ivory Coast. Afrofusion TV got a chance to speak with the young 17 year-old Ivorian designer (whom I wrote about in the earlier post) and a couple of others. The consensus was that African fashion’s acceptance into the mainstream is on a steady rise. Keep your eye out for these fantastic fashion designers! Bless…

The Live Sound of Shabaka

September 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Shabaka performing with his band

Surely one of the top dance floor fillers of the 1980s, Freddy Cole Shabaka’s “Dem Nor Wan Dance” was deliriously delivered live by this celebrated Sierra Leonean artist for the first time in years last Saturday. The event was a pageant for Ms. Sierra Leone USA 2010, now held biennially, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Shabaka’s music has always had that rootsy consciousness, and the newer songs he performed that night left no doubt that his art and heart still share the same space.
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17 Year-Old Ivorian Designer Debuts at DC Fashion Week

September 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

I was checking this out...

A bridal dress made up entirely of cake (YES!) was making its way from the

Alex Zohore

kitchen to the hallway at the French Embassy in Georgetown, Washington, DC, and the chefs were doing their best to make sure it didn’t tip over. Which provided a throng of photographers and cameramen enough time to take multiple shots of this almost 5-foot plus creation. But for fashionistas attending DC Fashion Week‘s International Couture Collection, it was the runway that mattered most. One of the first collections featured creations from a 17 year-old designer from the Ivory Coast.

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Preview: International Couture Collections

September 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wolf versus Goat!?? What the deuce is that, I wondered? Turned out to be the name of the Spring/Summer 2011 collection from designer Mauro Farinelli… the theme being “contemporary prep meets ‘Oliver Twist!'” I didn’t quite know what to expect when DC Fashion Week held a fashion industry networking party at the trendy Tabaq Bistro on historic U Street in Washington, DC. It was a chance for fashion designers, stylists, models, makeup artists and other fashionistas to get together, reconnect, and network with each other. So they held a short fashion show featuring “Wolf Vs. Goat,” (still cracks me up) whose focus, according to the designer, is “simplicity, wearability and attention toeven the smallest of details.” Afrofusion TV’s Khadia chatted with DC Fashion Week Founder and Executive Director Ean Williams, and a young designer from Yemen, about the upcoming International Couture Collections show. Check out the video clip below, and the Photo Gallery for great pictures from the networking party. More from the DC Fashion Week finale at the French Embassy later on. Stay tuned!

DC Fashion Week Pre-Fashion Event

September 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

DC Fashion Week 2010 kicks off again September 20 and goes on until the 26th, culminating in a grand affair at L’Ambassade de France with the International Couture Collections. And once again it will feature a number of African designers, and others with African fabrics or African inspired designs. From their website:

DC Fashion Week is considered one of the fastest growing international fashion week exhibits in the world and is held twice a year in February and September. DC Fashion Week now reaches an audience of more than 10 million per fashion week.

To kick it off, like they’ve done before, their founder Ean Williams organized a Pre-Fashion show at the H Street Festival in Northeast Washington, DC. Yes, it was SMOKING HOT!!! It was a preview of sorts for the exciting events coming up, and also a showcase of earlier collections that have been featured at DC Fashion Week. Designs worn by the lovely models at the event came from PhillyGurl, Little Flowers, Renee France Designs, Heydari, Corjor International, and Stella Bonds. AFROfusion was present (of course) to bring you pictures and video from the event. (Had a great time there…) Watch out for AFROfusion TV, because we’ll be bringing you the best of African Diaspora fashion design from the International Couture Collection! For more information on DC Fashion Week, and the upcoming events, go to their website http://www.dcfashionweek.org DC Fashion week is sponsored by Shy Magazine, amongst others. Many more photos in the Gallery. Ok, I did put together yet another preview clip of what we saw out there at the H Street Festival.

Rage Against the Nigerian Machine

September 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

There was a moment of silence held in his memory at the Crossroads Nightclub in Maryland, I remember, on the day it was announced that Fela had passed away. I remembered all I had heard about his struggles with the Nigerian Government, his imprisonment, the music, and of course, the revolutionary lyrics.

Zombie Album Cover

His song “Zombie” (1976) makes a mockery of the Nigerian military and police. Fela’s volatile relationship with the Nigerian authorities came to a head in 1977 when his Kalakuta Republic was stormed by soldiers and burned to the ground. Fela’s mother was thrown from a window by soldiers and she went into coma from which she never recovered, dying about eight weeks later. (His song “Sorrow, Tears and Blood” is about that horrendous experience.) Many thought the music he pioneered – Afrobeat – would fade out. Well, Afrobeat lovers, rejoice! Brand new reissues of Fela’s music have been released this past week by Knitting Factory Records. They have announced a Digital Package with immediate downloads of 11 of his releases between 1976 and 1980. Called the Zombie Batch, it is the third reissue so far of their periodic releases of the Nigerian musician’s work. I found this out on Boing Boing, (with Alt Sounds and Lime Wire Blog also reporting it) and the blog includes a free download of the classic Fela hit after which the reissue is named – Zombie. You can check out the Fela page on Knitting Factory Records here to buy the digital downloads. There is also a CD + Digital Download Package, and a Deluxe Package. Titles on the set include the aforementioned “Zombie,” “Sorrow Tears and Blood,” “Music of Many Colors” (with Roy Ayers), and “Shuffering and Shmiling.” The next group of reissues are scheduled for later this year. Bless…

Another Sneak Peak

September 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Promised to bring you a quick preview of what AFROfusion TV was up to at Zanzibar on the Waterfront in Washington, DC when Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars came into town on tour… You can check it out below! Thanks to super concert and artist promoter Raymond “Juju” Paris for facilitating it all! We arrived just as they were getting ready to do their soundcheck. Their tour manager Alex was gracious enough to allow our cameras extensive access. And Reuben and his bandmates were patient enough to sit down with us for a chit-chat – even though they were hungry as heck (they had been promised some good rice and cassava leaves by Juju.) We will have much more on the concert, including some of what we spoke about with Diamond Saj, who opened the show. AFROfusion host Khadia has already revealed more photos from the night in a previous post. Stay tuned, it’s all coming soon…

Khadia with the SLRAS and Diamond Saj

September 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

Honestly I didn’t know much about the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars before Wednesday when I was told that I would be interviewing them. But after preparing for their interview I was very excited to meet all of them. They truly exceeded my expectations, I had a lot of fun backstage with them! They are truly inspiring, they have come a long way. They are proof that you must never give up and you must SMILE, through all circumstances. I think their success is attributed to how humble they are!! If you are not familiar with them you should take a chance to read a little about their history. They have been on Oprah and MTV.

It was also a pleasant surprise to get the opportunity to interview and meet Diamond Saj who I had heard all about from the youth while in Sierra Leone. I hope through the pictures  you can get a small sense of how much fun we all had. If you have an opportunity to go and watch any of them make sure to take it! They were very impressive on stage! I couldn’t help but dance! I have become a fan of both the SLRAS and Diamond Saj (previously known as Daddy Saj).

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Refugee Mash Up

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I haven’t met that many celebrities that are singers/recording artists, but I can say for certain that I’ve never met a more down-to-earth group of artists like the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. To promote their new album (CD, I guess, if you were born after the ’80s) Rise & Shine, they have embarked on a multi-city US tour, which brought them back to DC and the Zanzibar Nightclub on Friday 10th September. Maybe it’s because they are so in love with what they do, but they spare little time to reflect on their international status as one of Africa’s premier musical ambassadors. “How do you know my name?” Reuben Koroma, the lead songwriter, asked me this in genuine surprise when I dropped in on their sound check session. Maturity might have something to do with it, too. Black Nature is the youngest member of that group (and probably the only one with two earrings), but he comes off as grounded and dedicated to his craft as his older band mates. They put a heavy emphasis on playing live instruments, something many artists from Sierra Leone are just not doing. And that’s why they sounded so good later on that night as they got down to serious jamming, a session which included songs from their previous album like Soda Soap and Living Like a Refugee. You can find more photos from that night on the gallery page. And, of course, AFROfusion TV will bring you a preview clip from the show – coming soon! Bless….

Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars at Zanzibar Nightclub

September 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

I first saw Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars live at the 9:30 club in Washington, DC a few years ago, soon after their highly acclaimed documentary came out. They are back in town, this time performing live at Zanzibar Nightclub tonight. They are on tour to promote their new album Rise & Shine, an album recorded in Sierra Leone and New Orleans, Louisiana. They have collaborated with a number of New Orleans musicians, which has added an engaging and uplifting accent to their already positive sound. The show is promoted by Kololo Entertainment and NOSLINA (National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America), and will be hosted by David Vandy, VOA radio host of “African Beat.” And yes, AFROfusion will be there to bring you the best of the show. Tickets are available here. See you there!!

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