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From Collection to Closet: The African Fashion Scene in Motion



The start of New York Fashion Week is only a few days away and it is so exciting to know that once again, our African designers will be represented as part of the ARISE: African Promise Collective. So far, Tiffany Amber, David Tlale and Jewel by Lisa have been confirmed – we cannot wait to see the full lineup! Also coming up is the Couture Fashion Week, taking place in New York as well – Nigerian designers Lanre DaSilva Ajayi, House of J’Ola, Frank Osodi and Zizi Cardow will be showing off their new collections. You trust that Bella Naija will be LIVE on the scene, bringing you all the scoop.

The progression of the African fashion industry is even more apparent when you take your eyes away from the catwalk or fashion features/spreads and focus on the closets of many Africans. In early years, the designers that thrived on the catwalk found it difficult to translate to commercial success. Now when we see designers showing off their collections on the catwalk, it is quickly followed by fashionistas rocking the pieces out and about!

Our fashion scene still has a lot of miles to cover in order to develop into a fully fledged ‘industry’. In most cases, anyone wearing an original African designer piece probably bought it directly from the designer – at a significant financial cost. In order for the industry to develop, we need to develop that middle ground – from diffusion lines to mass market retailers creating clothes that are influenced by the trends and styles spotted on the catwalk. Hopefully, we are headed in that direction!

Below are shots of African fashionistas out and about – rocking our African designs straight from the catwalk and fashion spreads – see them in shots from a variety of occasions from weddings to the red carpet. These ladies are proud to be seen in pieces from Africa’s best!

Collection to Closet Bella Naija001

Kluk CGdT

South African stylist Lindiwe Suttle is a big fan of Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel du Toit’s label – Kluk CGDT. She has been spotted on several occasions rocking pieces from their label and she does it oh so well! This particular piece was from the collection shown at the ARISE Johannesburg Fashion Week. Stunning!

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Tiffany Amber

Of course a designer will rock pieces from their line! Folake Folarin-Coker does this perfectly, she pulls off a trick that many find hard to do – personalizing a runway dress. On the catwalk at the ARISE Fashion Collective show earlier this year in New York – this Tiffany Amber dress was a perfect spring statement dress, Folake morphed it into a winter look by making good use of the sleeves, choosing to wear it in black and styling it with knee high black boots!

Collection to Closet Bella Naija003

Lanre DaSilva Ajayi

Here is another designer wearing a dress from her collection, Lanre DaSilva Ajayi rocked this pink and black dress from her LDA Pret a Porter collection for the Inspire Africa concert. She pretty much styled  it identically to the photoshoot but still looked fab.

Collection to Closet Bella Naija004

Jewel by Lisa

A guest at the Inspire Africa concert rocked this Jewel by Lisa dress from the designer’s Spring/Summer 2008 collection. This dress is actually a very popular piece, we have pretty much spotted it everywhere. Weddings, red carpet etc… – A definite versatile statement piece.

Collection to Closet Bella Naija005

Lanre DaSilva Ajayi

Lanre DaSilva Ajayi in another of her creations from the Arise Johannesburg fashion week. She wore the dress for the Genevieve Magazine Pink Ball.

Collection to Closet Bella Naija006


Seun Chukwuemeka at the Soundcity Music Video Awards in a MAI design hot off the runway.

Collection to Closet Bella Naija001

Jewel by Lisa

Hauwa Mukan at a red carpet event in Jewel by Lisa

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At this point, the names Omowunmi Akinnifesi and MAI are pretty much synonymous. So…no more explanations needed!

Collection to Closet Bella Naija009

Tiffany Amber AFI

Africa Fashion International’s Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe in a show-stopping Tiffany Amber gold lamé dress

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Jewel by Lisa

This dress is another JBL fave – from the collection shown off at the ThisDay Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall in London last year

Collection to Closet Bella Naija011

Deola Sagoe

Funmi Iyanda lookin’ ab-fab in this Deola Sagoe dress which was shown at the ThisDay Music Festival in Washington DC last year

Collection to Closet Bella Naija012

Phunk Afrique

Up-and-coming designer label Phunk Afrique is a very popular pick amongst the fabulous 20/30-something set, therefore it is no surprise to see ladies in Phunk Afrique at weddings etc.. Kehinde Oniru rocks this purple ankara dress from the recent Phunk Afrique Evolves collection.

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Lanre DaSilva Ajayi

LDA in yet another of her designs, with its bold colour, fabric and flower accents – it is not an easy dress to pull off but she carries it off really well!

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Aschobi Designs

Adama Kai in one of her designs from Aschobi‘s collection at ARISE Johannesburg

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Lanre DaSilva Ajayi

A dress from LDA‘s ready to wear line  – The frilled-bib dress was worn rocked by this guest at a recent wedding

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Jewel by Lisa

Model Kate Menson in a floor-length purple Jewel by Lisa dress. Kate wore the dress for the Face of Africa launch in Lagos – the dress was from JBL’s ARISE Johannesburg collection.

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Ifeoma Williams rocking a Zebra dress from the Urban Nectar collection.

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Tiffany Amber

Funke Fowler could be Tiffany Amber’s muse as she regularly wears pieces from the designer’s label. Here is Funke wearing a belted denim top with patchwork details from Tiffany Amber‘s Johannesburg Fashion Week collection.


  1. David Otokpa

    September 2, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Nice to be kept up to date with African designers. Always a pleasure dropping by Bella. Thanks.

  2. AprokoForLife

    September 3, 2009 at 12:26 am

    lol…isnt that Dayo Adeleke rocking LDA i think it was Lola Abiodun’s wedding!!I love Lanre Dasilva’s designs

  3. lilkunta(kelly)

    September 3, 2009 at 4:46 am

    Very nice. I like the blue MAI dress. How much? I think u should include prices.
    I didnt know Ascobi was an Afrikan designer.

  4. gbeborun

    September 3, 2009 at 10:24 am

    can someone pls put up MAIs contact details pls???

  5. lilkunta(kelly)

    September 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Pls more info on the BEAUTIFUL blue Mai dress. Web searches give me info on China.

    Also, y is “at this point, the names Omowunmi Akinnifesi and MAI are pretty much synonymous”? I am missing something. Thanks.

  6. ladi

    September 3, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Omowunmi is know to always wear MAI. See Bella’s post on her last week, more than half of what she wore was MAI.

    Even an interview I read in Thisday Style with Ahimai, the designer behind MAI, it was obvious that the two are pretty much synonymous.

    Understand now abi?

  7. kay

    September 4, 2009 at 12:23 am

    facebook is probably your best bet.

  8. luvlife

    September 4, 2009 at 1:48 am

    how? with facebook i mean

  9. luvlife

    September 4, 2009 at 2:41 am

    is it just me? I don’t understand the dress by Deola Sagoe, which funmi bravely and defiantly rocked………Oh my God, I just looked at the dress again and I hate it still……

  10. bubbles

    September 4, 2009 at 2:56 am

    i love mais’ dress!

  11. Bella

    September 4, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Search for Ohimai Atafo and send him a message!

  12. hilda

    September 7, 2009 at 1:07 am

    nice designs. I would like price on the dress Seun Chukemeka had on, very pretty.

  13. Karen

    September 8, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Omowunmi doesnt always wear MAI oh! Ive seen her wear alot of faboulous things since 2005. MAI just started designing for her, she also use to wear Monami one time.(the designer). love her

  14. Toks

    September 8, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Omowunmi is a known fashionista! The hottest Beauty Queen on the Block. MAI designs some of her outfits. Get it?


    September 8, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Common,let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
    In about TWENTY years or so a la Helen prest and co,you know those that stayed HOT through the years,IF omowumi still represents then she would have earned her place as ONE of the hottest.
    But for now,she is just like any other Naija girl who can put her clothes together on a good day,and some days she ain’t all that.

  16. Ladi

    September 9, 2009 at 3:56 am

    Ok, not always but A LOT!

  17. lilkunta(reply 2 luvlife)

    September 9, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    ah ah! all this facebook nonsensee. What about an actual website. I dont do myspace nor facebook nor twitter.

  18. niyi

    September 9, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    thanks bella but as he is fashion forward, why can’t he be technology forward or is it internet savvy? you get my drift…..
    it can’t be too difficult to run a website especially for someone whose clothes seem to be in high demand.

  19. ngum

    July 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    great piece. the african fashion industry is certainly going places. tiffany amber is probably my favourite nigerian designer.

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