Wednesday, July 7, 2010

African Fashion Awards: A Premature Idea

Robyn Cooke is obviously plugged in and evidently felt that the brouhaha over the winners at the African Fashion Awards needed to be addressed. If only AFI was as optimal an organization as they should be, they too would have felt the need to address this. But then again, they never addressed other issues like Stoned Cherrie’s pulling out of AFW, choosing to give a half-assed explanation to the effect that AFI and Stoned Cherrie came to an agreement. What’s up with the secrecy? They obviously learnt a thing or two from Motsepe’s many political connects: the biggest media dodgers of all time.

Anyhow, Cooke’s attempt at explaining what went on behind closed doors during the judging process is posted on her blog yet somehow I still feel that it doesn’t satisfy one main question; what criteria was used in the judging process? Most of the winners were awarded due to a unanimous vote and some, as she mentions, were as a result of her co-judges being convinced that, Michael Jackson- for instance- deserves an “African Fashion Award” for being a style influencer (?????).
In the African context, what does define a “style influencer”? And how in the good Lord’s name does one come to the conclusion that Michael Jackson (God bless his soul) is deserving of this accolade? And as for Grace Jones being the style icon of the year *crickets ringing in my ears*…
I don’t know; somebody tell me I’m just being a criticism addict because I am seriously failing to understand. More than anything, however, I think this African Fashion Awards concept is one that was hastily hatched. This vast continent has a fashion industry that is highly segmented. Even within a single market, like South Africa, there are many challenges that bring about segmentation (and the many fashion weeks are one cause of this cancer). How then do we seek to bring together under one banner the successes of the industry across the diaspora? The Africa Fashion Week concept itself should have been allowed to grow and for the industry to come together, designers familiarized with the fashion community continent wide and the surprise element when a Nigerian designer- for example- takes the accolade for best African designer- or whatever- can be curbed.
Right now, someone sitting in Nigeria can surely not find a reason in their minds why Clive Rindle or Black Coffee is more deserving of an accolade than his favourite Nigerian designer.


Buhle '08 said...

Mmm. I WAS shocked when Grace Jones and MJ won... for what reasons??? I mean, yes, Grace rocked the 70's and 80's and MJ did the same, but come on now, we have better style icons since 2000 and South Africa has its own style icons. I think we should quit sucking up to the big wonderful lights of Hollywood and bring it back home!

Sandiso Ngubane said...

Yep. We are so preoccupied with impressing the west and trying to get their attention we are forgetting to do our own thing. Brazil's Rio Fashion Week is getting a lot of international attention without the hassle of trying to be anything either than Brazilian. Maybe AFI thought these stunts would help the event get some international press, it was a bad idea, it didn't work. I have a feeling that things are noever thought through at that place. People get excited about an idea and because they have the means to do it, they go ahead with it! Thanks for stopping by, Buhle.