Altaroma - The Beat of Africa 3 - Behind the scenes; the people, the place

26 July 2014

Here is the third installment of our coverage of the centrepiece Beat of Africa show at AltaromaAltamoda. Set in a magnificent building, and we must be stress here that Rome is literally awash with magnificent buildings, but Sala Lancisi, the Lancisi Hall which is part of the Complesso Monumentale, Santo Spirito in Sassia really is beautiful. Adorned with a cycle of frescoes the Lancisi Hall is one of two that were originally called the Sistine Ward with their beautification driven by Pope Sixtus IV or 'the great builder' as he was known. Aside from its beauty, it is also a perfect shape for a fashion show!


We have already covered off the fashion designers on show here on BLKonBLK; Stella Jean, Lisa Foliwayo, Mina Evans and duaba serwa but the event also served to bring together the wider crew that were in Rome for the event, including, of course, ourselves. In addition to Simone Cipriani, Chloe Mukai, Maryjo Cartier and Aysylu Yanturina of the ITC Ethical fashion Initiative there was also the initiative's woman on the ground in Rome, former Helmut Newton muse and model turned talent scout, photographer, social media expert and stylist, Simonetta Gianfelici. Check this film for a little history on this supremely fashionable beauty... Vogue's newly appointed International Editor Suzy Menkes has long been a big supporter of the ITC EThical Fashion Initiative and she was at Beat of Africa and several other events associated with Simone Cipriani, with bells on.


Omoyemi Akerele, the creative and managerial force behind Lagos Fashion Week and founder/artistic director of Style House Files in Nigeria was there for the week and underlined the links that are being created across continents in the name of ethical fashion. They came from New York: blogger Kukua Odoi of African Prints in Fashion is a Ghanian-German living in Brooklyn and is something of an Ankara (traditional African fabric) expert whilst Hassan Pierre, alumni of New York's Parson School of Design is the founder and creative force at The Way It Should Be, a forward-thinking, sustainable fashion brand. Also in attendance were Sara Maino from Vogue Italia and Frederica Ricci of strong retail supporter Biffi Boutique in Milano. Then of course the three Room Service designers: Christie Brown, MO SAIQUE and Anita Quansah London and attendant crews were all there as well. A whanau was formed!


There was an underlying theme to this very special event. People from several continents were together to celebrate African design, and just as importantly, to appreciate and understand the ethical fashion production and artisanal work that has gone into creating the fashion that was on show. As Simone Cipriani was quick to point out, fashionable Romans and Italians in general understand all of this inherently - as little as 60 or 70 years ago, all Italian fashion was created in much the same way that the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative champions - with good practice, quality fabrics and materials that are environmentally friendly and of course, Italian fashion has most of all, long been created by artisans.


Not charity, just work!



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