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African Fashion is on the Rise, Says Naomi Campbell: ‘And it’s About Time!’

Although the pandemic has largely stopped the fashion industry in its tracks, promising showings in Africa show that creativity is still percolating. At the recent Arise Fashion Week in Lagos, Naomi Campbell visited in person to show her support for the talents that have routinely been overlooked and are finally getting the recognition they so deserve. This year’s event took the socially-distanced format of a talent search. Thirty African designers aged under 30 were selected to show their collections to a virtual audience, with an overall winner chosen by a roster of judges including American artist Kehinde Wiley and South African designer David Tlale. The shortlist included non-binary sustainable label Lagos Space Programme, ultra-chic MmusoMaxwell and the eventual winner, Kenneth Ize, who showed at Paris fashion week for the first time this year. All received $5,000, while Ize was awarded $100,000 and an extra jolt of publicity in the form of Campbell walking in his show on Saturday evening. Mentoring was also be part of the deal for the winner, said Campbell. It was particularly important as the wider world slowly woke up to Africa’s creativity and spending power.