Abuja lit up with glitz on Sunday, December 10, as Nigerian fashion powerhouse Africana took over the promenade in Harrow Park, Abuja for its first-ever mega runway show in the city, Africans Experience Live. Unveiling their SS24 collection, “THE ART OF LIFE,” Africana showcased what a modern fashion show permeated with a nod to Africa’s cultural heritage should look like.
Led by haute couture Creative Designer Charles Oronsaye Jr., Africana Couture started its journey with a focus on kaftans and agabadas before expanding into a comprehensive lifestyle brand.
Today, it offers bespoke urban clothing and accessories that include attire for both casual and formal occasions, as well as sophisticated leather goods.
Hence, the Africana Experience Live was a culmination of the brand’s decade-long dedication to delivering opulence, artisanal craftsmanship, and a culturally inspired fusion of fabrics catering to a broad spectrum of fashion needs.
Billed to be a complete experience appealing to all senses and providing the essentials for living, the event and new collection delivered on its promise to the hundreds of guests in attendance.
The runway was alive with the latest fashion as models showcased a collection diverse enough to cater to everyday wardrobe needs.
Each piece narrated its own unique story, from effortlessly stylish loungewear that created a relaxed atmosphere in the “Art of Living” segment to elegant traditional African attire celebrating our society’s rich heritage in the “Art of Culture (Kaftans & Agbada)” section.
Additionally, contemporary streetwear took centre stage in the “Art of Urban” showcase, featuring vibrant African-inspired art, while the “Art of Motion (Travel)” segment highlighted travel essentials with masterfully crafted leather goods.
Speaking ahead of the show, Oronsaye stressed how important it was for African creatives to break out of the typical fashion show norm.
“We need to break the conventional fashion lifecycle mould,” Oronsaye said. “The aim is to create a unique, large-scale event showcasing my art and inspiring upcoming talents. I want other aspiring creators to know they don’t have to wait for the traditional fashion weeks to present their art.”
Through the inspiration of Guest Creative Director, Ifidon Oisamoje and other partners, Oronsaye brought this vision to life with a contemporary fashion show dotted with native eulogies, traditional dances from the Edoseghe Theatres Group, and the fabrics to match; highlighting unbridled creativity, collaboration, and deep-rooted culture that form the bedrock of African artistry.
The atmosphere was imbued with a much-needed sense of nostalgia for the past, yet it vibrated with optimism. This unique blend was reflective of the brand’s four foundational pillars – Nostalgia, Optimism, Creativity, and Culture.
The event took on an added dimension of significance after Oronsaye announced the unveiling of a philanthropic initiative, the Africana 17 Charitable Foundation.
Speaking to reporters, Orosonye revealed that the foundation is geared towards providing support in the health sector by funding treatment for indigent patients. The foundation’s first project is to raise the funding needed to procure two dialysis machines for the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), operating free of charge for up to a year.
After watching first-hand the experience of patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), Oronsaye noted that both the brand and the foundation will be a catalyst for awareness and support in the fight against CKD and continuously showcase the powerful impact fashion can have beyond the runway.
The ‘Africana Experience Live,’ supported by Tecno, The Macallan, MAC, and Kairos Hof, concluded with a vibrant afterparty. Guests had the exclusive opportunity to purchase pieces from the SS24 collection and enjoy a stunning fireworks display, all part of a mesmerising multisensory spectacle that captured the essence of Africana’s creativity.