Words Helen Jennings Photography Jason Lloyd-Evans
As ARISE prepares for its fifth African fashion collective show at New York Fashion Week we look back at the frills and spills of our previous shows to bring you our 10 most unforgettable moments…
The one, the only, the inimitable Grace Jones received a standing ovation when she made a surprise appearance at the first NYFW show in February 2009. She wore a hooded LBD by Xuly Bët as she prowled up and down the catwalk.
Tyson Beckford got a plum job at our inaugural NYFW outing: “I’m the only male in the show so it’s great to be among all these beautiful women. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that!” he said. The females in the audience made their appreciation shown too as he walked out wearing a flat cap and carrying a man bag by Bët.
Preceded by lasers and smoke, Gucci girl Freja Beha opened our second NYFW show in September 2009, walking for Jewel By Lisa. Her slim-cut ankara shirt and trousers epitomised the entire collection, which designer Lisa Folawiyo said was inspired by “the edgy, chic New York girl who takes a piece from my collection and rocks it her own way.”
The same season, Chanel Iman winked at all the front rowers (among them Sean Paul, Amerie, Damon Dash and Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton) wearing a backless red dress by Eric Raisina. Hers was just one of many silky, sunset-hued creations shown by the Madagascan designer for spring/summer 2010.
For our third outing we transformed the main tent at Bryant Park into a glittering, organic landscape inspired by Ben Okri’s Famished Road, complete with a catwalk disguised as a never-ending cobbled path. A dawn spell was cast upon it by Black Coffee’s models, who posed statue-like, wearing sculpted cocoon coats to mark the beginning of the show.
And to end it all, Deola Sagoe conjured up the witching hour with her warrior-like military looks, which caged Oluchi Onweagba, Arlenis Sosa and Sessilee Lopez in shredded lycra, metallic ase-oke and revealing lace.
Ciara’s PA, and copious amounts of champagne and caviar, ensured that the ARISE autumn/winter 2010 after-show party at the five-star Plaza Hotel was a roadblock.
For spring/summer 2012’s Made In Africa collective we presented a record-breaking six designers, among them Asibelua by Fati Asibelua, who showed her Momo range at our very first show. Her boxy 1960s silhouettes were the canvas for her standout prints, such as monochrome houndstooth, tie dye and tartan.
When Lanre Da Silva Ajayi came out to take her bow at Made In Africa she took a tumble instead, falling off stage with a bump. Our host Lola Ogunnaike came running to her rescue, dusting her off and helping her back on stage for a wobbly lap of honour to huge applause.
Another season, another awesome after-party, this time rocked by R Kelly. He had the VIPs swaying and singing along to his greatest hits at Essex House last year. No closet required.