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AFRICA Fashion Week begins today. The four-day event features more than 30 designers from Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana, Ghana, Somali, Tunisia, French Commores, South Africa, Mozambique, the US and the UK.
Hundreds of fashion lovers are expected to make their way to Maude Street to scrutinise, admire, cost and criticise weird and wonderful outfits.
Xuly Bët, the Paris-based go-to label for many celebrities including Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill and Neneh Cherry, will open the show.The award-winning label recently made global headlines with the "Obama" dress at the New York Fashion Week.
Besides international celebrity watching at the Sandton Convention Centre, parties are also planned for popular venues by the fashion designers.
Tomorrow sees Koketso Chiepe, Christie Brown, Laquan Smith, Bunmi Koko, Fabiani, Marianne Fassler, Errol Arendz, Abigail Betza on the ramp bill.
Fassler will be showcasing her Global Gathering collection. This multi-layered extravaganza will focus on the beginning: Africa as the birthplace of mankind and children as the original designers.
Her show will open with a small capsule collection designed under her direction by two children, Adam, 7 and Sibella, 9, before continuing on a journey that pays homage to Africa's nations.
Joining her on the schedule is New York-based label Mataano. This soft, feminine line is designed by the Somali sisters Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, who have been dubbed Africa's Olsen twins. They have featured on CNN and Oprah.
Other designers from the US include Smith. He is currently Rihanna's favourite and designed the gold dress for her Rudeboy video.
He also designed numbers for Lady Gaga.
Mimi Plange, who has worked with designer Rachel Roy and Patricia Field, the famed Sex and the City stylist, will be bringing her sophisticated, yet deeply romantic, label Boudoir D'Huitres to Africa Fashion Week.
Koko, a Britain-based label has been garnering UK press attention over the past year with her innovative, structured designs favoured by celebrity Mel B, who chose a Koko couture dress for the 2010 British Awards. Alesha Dixon, Alex Curran, Sadie Frost and Kate Middleton will also be showcasing.
Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, chairperson of African Fashion International, says Africa Fashion Week is providing a platform for shining stars from across the diaspora, the continent and the country.
"The world continues its love affair with all things African, African as a point of reference, not as a cliché and it's very important we here in Africa continue to support that," she says.
Completing the line-up of designers are Sakina Msa, Ituen Basi (last year's Africa Fashion Award winner for Innovative Designs), Soucha, Heni Este-Heijzen and Christie Brown (joint winners of last year's Emerging Designer Award), Noir, Qumi Bespoke, Koketso Chiepe, Gloria Wavamunno and Betz, Thula Sindi, Carducci and Fabiani.