Afro Fashion Expo: 3 words to amaze, touch and fill you with pride
Three years ago I embarked on the adventure of the Afro Fashion Expo, formerly Pop-Up Beauty. My mission was to promote multiculturalism and share this wealth not only among people from the Afro-descendant community, but also with people from other cultures. In charge of coaching models and directing fashion shows since the very first edition, I met inspired and inspiring people from both an artistic and a social point of view.
Born in Nicaragua, I grew up in Montreal in a Latin American family. I have been exposed to great cultural diversity since childhood. Despite this, it is with a little embarrassment that I confess I regarded the “Africans” as exotic people. In my memories, I noticed them at the World Cup, or during the big Olympic Games parade carrying their flags in red, green and yellow. Nevertheless, it was when I started my studies at HEC Montreal that I met several students from Africa, especially from Western countries of the continent. I made good friends and a lover…
Well, let’s talk about fashion! It was only a short time after my first steps into the world of fashion shows that I was really exposed to so-called “Afro trends”. Miss Kabi was one of the first companies in this field that I knew. I remember it well, because it was at a time when I was trying to walk somehow on a podium. Although Africa already fascinated me, I knew very little about the fabrics and materials that were used by its people. Step by step, I became more familiar and comfortable with this environment, surrounded by entrepreneur-creators such as Waly Access who, each in their own way, seek to promote their cultural heritage. That’s how my “Afro-attitude” started, as I enjoy calling this passion.
Model / Stylist : Julieta Rosibel, Necklace & Earrings: Maison Calixta, Top : Eldior Sodeck Design, Makeup : Nehanda Mandela, Hairdresser: As God Made Me © Siaka Traoré
This explosion of life, colors, patterns and materials is, for me, a beautiful wealth that pushes designers to explore and push their creativity. For example, the use of wax prints in garment making is not limited to the traditional African outfit. It is noted on the international scene and is not solely known by its “exotic” character. Used with other materials, wax prints adopt classic ready-to-wear cuts or edgy haute couture cuts. Very colorful, the clothes and accessories are perfect for men and women who are not afraid to get noticed – that is ME!
However, I sometimes think that after all these years bathing in Afro trends, there is almost nothing that can catch my attention from a fashion point of view. But no! I keep being surprised again and again.
Due to our globally connected society and the rise of social media, trends influenced by Africa and its diaspora have taken root in our popular culture and are constantly multiplying into sub genres, now worn by people of different origins or cultural affiliations. Despite this, we often fail to see their history, their beauty, and their innovation – or we do not recognize them.
Model / Stylist : Julieta Rosibel, Necklace: Waly Access, Makeup : Nehanda Mandela, Hairdresser: As God Made Me © Siaka Traoré
In realizing the two fashion shows of this third edition, I want to promote the legacy of Africa and enhance its contemporary multicultural expression, while showing its influence on past and present Western society. My career in fashion and beauty as a non-traditional model, and my time as an art director taught me that we can carry strong messages, influence our surroundings, and inspire reflection. We live in a time when many more progressive brands are standing up for excluded and oppressed people, in the past as well as in the present, to ensure the future is truly a new future. Without revealing too much, I assure you that you will leave this third edition amazed, touched, and filled with pride.
We’ll see each other there!
August 11, 2018 | 12PM – 9PM | 5723 Parc Avenue, Montreal | Rialto Theatre