Runway Report: This Day/Arise Magazine's African Fashion Collective 2009

Check out ESSENCE.com's backstage access with fashion and beauty editor, Qianna Smith at This Day/Arise Magazine's African Fashion Collective 2009 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Promenade in Bryant Park on February 13, 2009 in New York City.
ESSENCE.COM Feb, 13, 2009

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The first-ever African-designer showcase took place at New York Fashion Week where THIS DAY/ARISE Magazine’s presented the African Collective 2009. ESSENCE.com was on the scene, where celebrities and top models brought black power to the runway.

By Qianna Smith

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The designers being featured in this year’s show were Xuly Bёt from Mali, Tiffany Amber from Nigeria, Stoned Cherrie from South Africa, and Momo from Nigeria. These emerging design stars attribute a greater interest in African textiles and beadwork to the election of the first African-American President, Barack Obama.

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Recording artist Ryan Leslie was on the scene at the African Fashion Collective show. The singer, who recently released his self-titled debut album on February 10, was at the show to support supermodel Tyson Beckford, who codirected his music video “How It Was Suppose to Be.”

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Modeling agent Bethann Hardison, left, who is credited with spearheading international fashion diversity and awareness in the industry, poses backstage with American top model Chanel Iman.

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Backstage, a model gets pretty with M.A.C. Cosmetics, one of the shows official sponsors. The makeup artists focused on highlighting and illuminating the skin so the clothes captured all the attention.

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The legendary Grace Jones lent her celebrity for a good cause to support the first-ever African-featured designer show at New York Fashion Week. Jones changed the world’s perception of beauty when she first emerged as a model in the 70’s with her deep chocolate skin tone and masculine features.

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ESSENCE.com caught up with Miss Africa USA 2008-2009 Nyasha Zimucha backstage at the ARISE African Collective where she dished that she is launching a new T-shirt line this spring, and even though she is from South Africa, she says, she understands the importance of representing Africa as whole.

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Tyson Beckford chatted with ESSENCE.com backstage about how excited he is to return as the host of Bravo’s “Make Me A Supermodel,” which debuts its second season March 4.

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Former Sudanese refugee turned international supermodel Alek Wek has teamed up with diamond jeweler De Beers to promote the company’s new brand, The Forevermark Precious Collection™. The collection includes spectacular and meticulously crafted jewelery designs by Wek.

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New York television anchor Sade Baderinwa, who’s father is Nigerian, came out to support Tiffany Amber and Momo, both collections by designers from Nigeria.

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Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede donned a classic suit design by Xuly Bёt from Mali, who called his collection “Funkin’ Fashion Factory.”

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Supermodel Alek Wek commanded the catwalk wearing an orange chiffon dress by Stoned Cherrie. “At a time when transformational leadership is of paramount importance, a message of love, compassion and optimism is carried in this collection,” says Stoned Cherrie creative director and founder, Nkhensani Nkosi.

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The always outlandish Grace Jones will be turning 61 this May, and she still looks as fierce as ever.

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Drawing on the classic shapes and femininity of Europe and the vibrancy of Africa, the Tiffany Amber fall 2009 collection caters to the modern woman who feels at home on the streets of Zurich, New York, London and Lagos. Model Georgie from Burkina Faso wears a violet draped Grecian dress.

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New York native and singer Chrisette Michele sported a funky glam buzzed short cut at the African Collective show. The budding star, who was nominated by BET for Best New Artist in 2008, has been working the tents this season at Bryant Park, sitting front row at a few of the other top shows including Tracy Reese.

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The Mosaic of Africa collection (also known as MOMO) combines classic glamour with a cultural twist and a unique mix of energies akin to the beating wildlife, which inspired this collection. Model Chanel Iman wears a gold-stained stretch silk jersey sheath dress with rushed side detailing.

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The audience went wild when Grace Jones pranced on the runway to the sounds of sci-fi tunes and a large projector depicting her image in a space-age-like form to the words, “Your meat is sweet to me.”

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Solange Knowles wowed the crowds at the African Collective after-party held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Knowles confessed to the crowd that her vocals were a little rusty and had to get a shot in the butt to perform. She later told ESSENCE.com that it was well worth it and would have not missed celebrating Africa’s top designers for nothing.

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At the after-party, Fonzworth Bentley, the one-time umbrella holder and former personal assistant to Sean “Diddy” Combs, shared with ESSENCE.com that the world was ready for the first U.S. African-American president and now the world of fashion is ready for more visibility of Black designers and models in the industry.

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