Malawi Fashion Week excites local designers

Two of the country’s top fashion designers, Lilly Alfonso and Rose Kaleke have expressed excitement about the introduction of the Malawi Fashion Week (MFW), the major fashion event in the southern African nation.

The first of its kind in the history of fashion designing in the country, the inaugural MFW is scheduled to take place in winter this year from 30th May to 3rd June in the capital city, Lilongwe.

The event is expected to bring together not only local and international designers but models as well and is deemed to be one of the key events that will assist in uplifting the image of Malawi, hence promoting tourism and boosting the country’s struggling economy.

“This is good for Malawi and as the fashion industry in Malawi grows we need such events in our country,” said Alfonso, a designer who has on occasions represented the country at international fashion events, one of them the African Fashion Week London in the UK.

Lilly Alfonso showcasing her clothing line  in London at Africa Fashio Weeke last year October
Lilly Alfonso showcasing her clothing line in London at Africa Fashio Weeke last year October

In an interview with Nyasa Times, the Lilongwe-based designer, who runs her own fashion house named Lilly Alfonso (LA), observed that much as “it is another way of development”, the coming of MFW will assist in educating and motivating the Malawian public.Said her: “People [in Malawi] don’t understand the difference between designing and tailor-making, so this will help a lot in educating the masses and realise that fashion designing is a big industry that can transform people’s lives.”

“I will encourage designers and people to take part in this. This is a way to appreciate fashion in Malawi and let’s see how best we can unite to make Malawi one of the major fashion homes,” added the designer, who also showcased her outfits at the Commonwealth Africa Night event in London last November.

And in a separate interview, as she expressed her bliss, Kaleke of Rozes Trendy Fashions, based in the commercial city Blantyre, concurred with Alfonso as she said she believed MFW would be an eye opener.

“I expect to learn a lot from my fellow Malawian and visiting designers because in this trade we learn every day. I have very high expectations and I hope the general public will support the event,” said Kaleke, one of Malawi’s qualified fashion designers, specialized in Bridal and Occasional wear who won the top prize in the 2009 Summer Fashion Bonanza.

As she went on to urge fashion shop owners in the country to get geared for the event, Kaleke also asked government to support the event.

“Fashion industries have proved to be good platforms for generating foreign currency and have also assisted in reducing poverty in other countries. If taken seriously, the industry can help create employment opportunities in our country,” she pointed out.

She however called upon for technical expertise during the four-day fashion event to help local designers perfect their designs as most of them eye the international market.

According to the organisers, Elegant Resources by ArianaLoise and African Dzuwa, during the Fashion Week, apart from the parades, there will also be several seminars in Fashion theory and practices open to all and will attract international experts who will impart their vast knowledge to participants.

MFW has been introduced to create a platform for Malawi fashion designers to showcase their “state of the art designs” that will be available for purchase to fashion houses and buyers.

It is also aimed at embracing Malawi culture and be the trendsetter of local fashion labels and clothing brands by encouraging exports of fabric and clothing all over the world.

“This event is open to international fashion designers and models so that Malawi designers and models can improve and develop their skills with exposure from other cultural influences through networking with like-minded people all over the world,” MFW CEO Dawa Loga-Lemberger told Nyasa Times in an earlier interview.

During the MFW 2013, apart from the young and established Malawian designers, other parades will be done by guest international designers and PAN African designers and according to the organisers, arrangements have been made to work closely with Africa Fashion International (AFI) to spice it up and add colour to the event.

So far, MFW has attracted seven foreign models of which four will be coming from Zambia, one from Mozambique, one from Botswana and one from South Africa.

Meanwhile, registration to the event is open to designers, models, trainers, stylists, photographers as well as sponsors through the MFW website

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