Highlights from the 2018 edition of Senegal’s famed fashion week

Dakar Fashion Week (DFW) recently marked its 16th edition with an impressive showcase of designers, both emerging and established, from across Africa and the diaspora. From Nigeria’s Tsemaye Binitie and Mali’s Jean Kassim Dembele’s to Congo’s Talansi and Yvonne Jewnell New York, DFW founder Adama Ndiaye hopes this year’s diverse line-up reflects the rich talent that is inherent in African design today. “I’m optimistic to be living in a time where African designers are engaging with the world on their own terms, in their own way,” Ndiaye says. “It’s important that fashion is used as a tool to celebrate ourselves, our culture, our heritage, and for creating a sense of solidarity.”

The brains behind one of Senegal’s most renowned brands, Ndiaye presented four Adama Paris collections including her first menswear line, which comprised of lightweight and layered cotton pieces in earthy tones. Fellow countrywoman So’Fatoo showed timeless yet subtly sensual pieces finished with gold embroidery that expressed a contemporary take on traditional dress. The pride for all things Senegalese was also apparent in Madhouse by Fadel Ndiaye’s collection, through his choice of regional fabrics and a vibrant colour palette of indigo blues, slivery whites and hot reds. Astou Mballo’s Bobo by Sag collection was also blessed with bright colours including canary yellow, bringing 1950s influenced tailoring and elegant cover-ups to the fore.

South Africa’s Quiteria and George presented a series of powerful black looks accented with faux fur. The showstopper was a quilted puffer jacket laden with chunky metallic zips. Also from South Africa, Magents channelled youthful street style via its striking trainers and denim styling. Each male model had important statements painted on their chests denouning gender violence, reminding us of fashion’s ability to voice social change and create safe spaces.

Meanwhile, Kenya was well represented by Ann McCreath of KikoRomeo. This pioneer of east African fashion presented a menswear collection created from handcrafted fabrics in hues drawing inspiration from the golden sands and blue waters of the continent. Her signature jumpsuits, blazers and shirts came covered in tie-dye starbursts.

Dakar Fashion Week also attracted a crowd as well dressed as the models on the catwalk. Influencers in attendance included stylist Jenke Ahmed Tailly, artist Omar Victor Diop, PR and buyer Diana Opoti, stylist Kwena Baloyi, photographer Trevor Sturman and designer Khadjia Aisha Ba of one-to-watch accessories brand L'artisane. But to ensure the four-day event in venues across the city remained accessible, the street parade on the final day in Keur Massar, a less privileged area just outside Dakar, helped to bridge economical divides by allowing all walks of life to enjoy the creativity and beauty of this fashion spectacle.

DFW, like the city itself, has come far over the years, as Ndiaye reflects: “We are deeply grounded but our wings are open. Together we are stronger and together we can make a difference.”

Photography Daichi Yamamoto, YXVSSEF Studio

Visit Dakar Fashion Week

Published on 10/07/2018