The first annual AfroExposure, entitled Awakening of African Culture, was a unifying and enriching exhibit complete with exhilarating performances and presentations by young talented artists who express appreciation for their heritage through their crafts. The appropriately titled showcase truly was an awakening experience, reminding the audience to honor the past, celebrate the present, and progress towards the future as African culture continues to evolve.
The show was structured around a heartening three-part short film, “Sands of Time,” starring G-Rize, Gifty Doku and Koby Maxwell. The film centered on a dedicated mother trying to save her unfocused son from walking down the wrong path in his life. When his mother attempts to persuade him to return to Ghana, he stubbornly refuses, that is until he has a spiritual awakening of his own. His ambivalence towards his heritage is transformed into an eagerness to embrace and learn more about his culture. Nollege Wizdumb graced the stage reciting poetry filled with a clever and thought-provoking prose that is well beyond his years. His candid take on today’s attitude toward African culture grasped the attention of the entire audience as they listened intently to the powerful message of Nollege’s rousing delivery.
The featured dance troupes included Mbuutu, Les Belles D’Afrique, and Afro1. Their pulsating performances were as entertaining as they were edifying. The brisk and soulful movements of the choreography were mind-blowing as the dancers glided and swayed across the stage. The singers (the lovely Tolumide, the dynamic duos of Oxygen 2 and Apexx, and the sensational Koby Maxwell) provided the vibrant rhythmic soundtrack for the showcase. The beautiful vocals and fast beats flowing in the energetic and fun music echoed throughout the entire room.
The fashion presentations of Cote Minou, Tosin Oleniyi, and The Ruart Group were ingenious and regal interpretations of African inspired garments. The traditional fabrics were full of unique geometric prints, making each garment a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. The usage of these luxurious fabrics was unbelievable, for incorporating multiple patterns into one garment is no easy task; even the best designers are unable to execute such brilliance and cleverness with patterned pieces as well as these designers have done. The exquisite fabrics also featured animal and floral motifs as well as cultural takes on the ubiquitous tye-dye and bold stripe trends.
The designers paid homage to the historical fashions of Africa while employing skilled tailoring techniques to create contemporary silhouettes, fusing beloved tradition with chic modernity. The garments were infused with a dazzling color palette which featured warm rich orange and red hues, cool blue tones like navy and cerulean, and jewel tones like majestic purple and fuchsia. The versatility of the collections was perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the fashion presentations. From long body-conscious skirts and high-waisted trousers to sexy multi-tiered mini-dresses and expertly tailored jackets, each designer provided must-haves for every type of occasion. The splendor of the fashions literally took people’s breath away as each piece made its way across the stage, making everyone in the audience gasp and wanting to see more. Africa has had a strong presence on the runways thanks to tribal-print pioneer and fashion design legend, Yves Saint Laurent. But to see African fashion in the eyes of these gifted, ambitious young designers is a trend that the fashion world needs more of.
It’s almost hard to fathom that this was the first installment of such a profound and enriching showcase. Providing a platform in which young people can celebrate and uplift their culture is an awe-inspiring experience. The extraordinary team at PalavaHut produced a show that was a stunning success, and more importantly, encouraged people to open their eyes to the evolution of African culture.