London Fashion Week is upon us, and with it, the next edition of the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) initiative from the British Fashion Council and British Council.
Next week the streets of London will once again be graced with the presence of fashion’s elite. In a whirl of metallic fabrics, abstract prints in primary colours inspired by works of fine art and a shaggy oversized coat or two, fashionistas from across the globe will arrive in the capital for the start of London Fashion Week.
London is an epicentre of cultural and social diversity and the new styles and designs that are created as a result of this merging of traditions and ideas are often the most fascinating. Taking advantage of the global media presence that goes hand in hand with London Fashion Week, the British Council in association with the British Fashion Council will also launch the International Fashion Showcase (IFS), an initiative that began in 2012.
The IFS festival takes place once a year during February Fashion Week and brings together 27 countries and over 100 designers to showcase new fashion talent from around the world. For students of creative subjects the exhibitions on display across the capital will be a fantastic insight into the varied and innovative design practices of each country, and will no doubt inspire a new generation of young designers to think outside the box. Curator Lizzie Glendinning who is working with the Tanzanian High Commission for IFS 2014 explains why London is the perfect location for the showcase:
London itself is such a vibrant city with so many different cultures and traditions, where fashion isn’t so much about following trends as creating individual style. London Fashion Week designers are celebrated for their cutting edge designs and I think we are one of the only capitals in the world that could provide an accessible platform for such a melting pot of new creative talent. International Fashion Showcase is an incredible opportunity for international emerging designers to take advantage of and present their work while all the eyes of the fashion world are on London. It reflects the city’s championing of innovation and industry and provides an international network for emerging fashion markets and initiatives.
The Tanzanian showcase, Unseen Dimensions: Emerging Tanzanian Design, will question ideas of contemporary Tanzanian identity and tradition. In an exclusive interview with Bloomsbury, Tanzanian designer Natasha Shyrose of Odd is Bold has explained what she feels are the main influences on contemporary Tanzanian design:
Tanzanian style experiments through style blending from different continents, but mostly Europe and America. There is more appreciation of the local styles and designers now, ever since top designers from abroad such as Valentino used more African prints in their Clothing. This has been a great inspiration for African fashion lovers and more young people have started purchasing clothing made of African-inspired pattern and colours. Tanzanian fashion for the youth is more about what is going on in mainstream fashion. Most especially women love to experience trends from abroad through top music artists and celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian. The men love edgy but classic style suits and street-wear from RnB and Hip Hop artists.
Designs by Natasha Shyrose for Odd is Bold, S/S 2014
Natasha lives and works in Norway where she has a studio and continues to design beautiful occasion wear, shoes and accessories.
Yves Saint Laurent has often referenced African style in his collections, as demonstrated in the above images from S/S 1990, S/S 1991 and S/S 1992 respectively. (Photographs by Niall McInerney © Bloomsbury Fashion Photography Archive.)
A list of all participating countries for the International Fashion Showcase 2014 can be found here, and the Tanzanian showcase can be found at the Tanzanian High Commission at 3 Stratford Place London, and the show will run from the 11th to the 23rd February from 10.00 to 19.00 daily.
To know more about Tanzania’s rich and fascinating history, the Berg Fashion Library article on Tanzania by Sandra Klopper and Rehema Nchimbi from the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion is now free to non-subscribers for a limited time.
Did you know that there are more than 120 different ethnic groups in this region? O_o
To learn more about dress and fashion practices of other African countries in general, African Dress, published by Bloomsbury last year, includes fascinating contributions from a range of established and up-and-coming international scholars and features a wide range of case studies on African countries including Ghana, Togo, Nigeria and Zambia.
You can preview the book here.