Minister challenges Malawian artists as designer Lilly set for London show

Artists in the country have been challenged to be innovative enough and bring forth their ideas if they want government’s support, Minister of Information and Civic Education, Moses Kunkuyu made the challenge on Saturday.

He was speaking in an interview with Nyasa Times on the sidelines of designer Lilly Alfonso’s exclusive fashion show at Protea Ryalls Hotel in the commercial city Blantyre.

Kunkuyu’s statement comes amid cries from Malawian artist who have accused government of sideling them and favouring sports, mostly football and netball.

Enhancing talent

However, the minister said it was government’s wish to see Malawian artists prospering and getting support as different sports disciplines do if their activities are in line with policies that will help in the nation’s development.

“This is a new government and we’re ready to work with them, give them our support in every way, let them bring forth their ideas and we will sit down, discuss and see how we can support them,” said Kunkuyu as he admitted that such activities help in boosting the tourism industry.

The best dress that was auctioned at K115,000

The youthful minister, said on behalf of the Malawi government, Lilly’s show had brought together people from all walks of life, among them foreigners who had told him they were very impressed with the talent Malawi had in fashion designing.

“Lilly is a pride not only to friends and family but to Malawi as a nation. Tonight she has shown that she’s more creative and as she is crossing borders, as a nation let us all support her,” Kunkuyu spoke of the designer who is going to the UK to represent Malawi at the Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) on 3-4 August.

Disclosing that he was born in the same year and went to the same secondary school with Lilly, Kunkuyu said he was delighted to see that his long time close friend’s dream was coming true and that she will be carrying Malawi’s flag at such international platform.

Colour dream

In a separate interview, the 32-year-old Italy-bred designer said the minister’s presence at her fashion event simply signifies that government is now recognising the presence of art such as fashion designing, which is one of the industries that Malawians have been sidelining.

“I’m very pleased to see government’s representation here, this is what we [artists] need and it encourages us to forge ahead. It shows that the authorities are now committed to helping us realise our goals and in the process help in the development of our country,” said the designer.

Shedding tears as she spoke during the show, Lilly described her journey as a dream and she said she didn’t know she would be where she is right now. She revealed having realised she had the passion for fashion designing at the age of six. “I wasn’t feeling comfortable wearing normal clothes at such age, all I wanted was something made by myself.”

“People started liking what I was doing and they started asking me to make something for them, at first I didn’t know I was a designer, I thought I was just a tailor until in 2006 when I was approached to design outfits for Miss Malawi contestants,” she recalled, also disclosing that she has designed an outfit which the reigning Miss Malawi Susan Mtegha will be wearing at this year’s Miss World in China next month.

“I enjoy everything that I do. I can’t do anything else but designing, though am still exploring and I would like to urge parents to support their children who have shown potential in fashion designing and other talents,” said Lilly, whose daughter Chantell, aged 11, is an aspiring designer and had the dress which she designed showcased during the well patronised show.

Lilly displayed 30 outfits of which 10 will be showcased at the AFWL, including the dress which the audience voted as the very best and was bought at an auctioned price of K115,000 by Blantyre-based business woman Veronica Curtis, co-owner of well known clubs Blue Elephant, Cassa Mia and Club Lucianos.

Apart from Lilly’s designs, the audience also had the opportunity to sample the condom couture by up and coming designer Godfrey Kambewa, who is a Chancellor College student.

The event was also spiced up by music and poetry performed by Afro R&B singer Armstrong and poet Q Malewezi, respectively.

Lilly and the models
Armstrong and a fan as he performed Ndamusowa
Malawi designer Lilly (C) her daughter and husband
Models posing for Nyasa Times, one (R) in condom couture
The best dress that was auctioned at K115,000
The brains behind condom couture, Kambewa and a colleague

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