Fashion gets Fierce for Females

11th September 2010 marked the second Fashion Live show by Akemi Creative, the main focus being the Autumn/Winter collection and all female performances to celebrate talented women. I had the pleasure of taking part as front of house, and I can honestly say it was one of the most fun events I have been to and worked at in a while.

The Venue

The venue was just right; some may have called it small, but in my opinion its structure rendered it appropriately intimate yet also flexible enough to allow for the various and creative ways in which it was used during the night. The layout was clearly the fruit of a professional vision, excellent planning, and appropriate practical execution of the vision and planning. Attention to detail were evident in the raised catwalk which spiralled out into a U shape in the centre of the room, and the stage lights which focused on this specific area, the impact of which was very noticeable during the actual show; it really brought a touch of sophistication and professionalism to the event; indeed the layout was just like fashion shows I have seen on TV, and equally packed out. Thus in spatial terms, Akemi Creative definitely get a huge thumbs up.

But what of the actual show itself?

One word; fantastic.

The Presenter

I have to give a huge amount of praise and kudos to the host Zalika, who even though at times had to deal with a fairly unresponsive, maybe even displaying a hint of teenage moodiness audience, did an awesome job in introducing the acts and peppering the intervals between the collections and the acts, with a fierce resolve to get them all laughing (she succeeded) and really just refused to take no for an answer when it came to getting the audience involved and excited about what was coming next. There was a precarious moment at the start where having waited for over an hour for the show to start, the audience, understandably irritated, seemed like they would never thaw and I thought that her valiant attempts to rally them would materialise into nothing more than a painfully slow drawn out embarrassing process of forced humour on her part responded to by deadly silence on the audience’s part. However within five minutes she had melted them. In the moment of need, she displayed the character, poise, charm, and resilience a presenter needs when dealing with hostile audiences and she flowed like a river. Every blank stare, non-committal grunt and scowling face came under her spell that night. Women’s night indeed!

The Collections

On the night there were collections by Nicky, the MA Collection, Heavenly Jewellery, I’m Nothing Without U’, the ‘African Ballerina’ collection by Lanyero, the Jay Marsh Collection, the Akabi Collection and El Sali Designs. The standout collections for me were definitely the MA collection, the Jay Marsh collection and El Sali Designs.

In the MA collection, my personal favourite was a beige off the shoulder top with a huge bow, with matching leggings. It really just fused together the elements of classy and casual (for me personally anyway). Simple, but elegant. When I saw it, my reaction was ‘ohhhhhhh!’ and I hardly ever get that reaction towards clothes.

In the Jay Marsh collection there was a brown winter poncho/jacket piece that I still cannot get over. All I can say is that it was fabulous and if you want to see it, check out the Facebook pictures for Fashion Live. When the model stepped out in that piece, there was a universal pause, then excited murmur of approval. I loved the Jay Marsh collection the most, because everything that the models wore, I could see myself wearing (don’t know if it’d look as good on me though!), and that was the only collection I had that feeling about.

El Sali Designs’ ‘Roth’ collection was 9 sleek and sophisticated dresses with ruffle designs or in a sheathy long flowing style. Definitely the kind of dresses you’d want to wear if you were going somewhere you needed to make an impact; not in an overpowering and brash way, but in a power-through-the-demure way. Again, the models really brought out the elegance of this collection, at times seeming to be floating down the catwalk leaving the faint rustle of the dresses they were wearing in their wake.

Although this collection didn’t make it into my top 3 (no slight on the collection or designer at all. The pieces were great too), Akabi’s ‘Love of Africa’ collection definitely deserves more than a one line mention for the most impressive in terms of creativity in design and source material. Why? Because most of the collection was made out of recycled parachutes! Unbelievable and brilliant. I would never have guessed it, and all of the audience was equally astonished when the designer revealed this. These pieces had a very urban streetware feel, great for casual wear.

The Performers

Performers on the night were by Sarah (poet), Santhi (singer/songwriter), Uniquely Poetic (poet), Nyime (singer/songwriter) and Michaela the Poet. There was also some expressive dancing.

Needless to say, all these women did themselves showed great talent and I enjoyed all of the performances. My favourites though had to be Nyime; she sung ‘Consider This’ and also refused to see everyone sitting down with miserable faces just watching her sing and rallied the crowd into participation by bringing energy, enthusiasm, and joy onto the stage. Also, Michaela the Poet whose combined poetry, singing and acting piece ‘Wade in the Water’ had me wanting to yell ‘ENCORE! ENCORE! NOW!’

There are some extremely talented women in this country and all the acts and the female designers on the night really served as inspiration to those of us who are perhaps still working out our irks and quirks, our niches and our talents.

The Charity

Release International was the name of the charity to whom all the proceeds of the Fashion Show were going, and on the night the greatest moment was when Jo from Release shared some touching and inspiring stories about the people Release has helped, and the kind of people they strive to help. Release is a charity that strives to help persecuted Christians in the world and Jo shared three stories; of an Eritrean woman, an Egyptian woman, and a Pakistani man, all Christians, who had endured or were enduring some form of persecution for being Christian. The stories that she shared, along with evoking the natural reactions of horror, concern, and empathy, I believe really challenged each Christian in the audience into becoming more conscious and more proactive in doing what we can to support persecuted Christians (even if prayer is all that we can do, it is still something, it is still important). Her stories really engendered a sense of Christian community and highlighted an often sidelined concept of a corporate Christian responsibility. I really admire the way in which she relayed the message of Release; not at all in a condemning and pushy ‘you should be doing more’ way, but more as a friendly appeal to our sensibilities and our sense of Christian duty appealing to us to ‘above all, pray’. It was impossible not to feel moved by this, yet also feel a sense of gratefulness at being able to live a fairly persecution-free existence in the UK where there is much less restriction on Christians sharing their faith. Hopefully now these elements will combine to manifest into proactive prayer and support for these Christians by those of us who are blessed to be so free.

The Final Verdict

For me, Fashion Live 2 admirably and innovatively blended together so many key elements; passions for fashion, talent, creativity, style, poetry, music, humanitarianism, and so much more. Even more so, this all-female edition of the show really put into perspective the great, the positive and meaningful contributions, innovations and ingenuity that women have brought into these various arenas. Aside from a few male models and male musicians, 99.9% of the event’s participants were women (the Akemi Creative team, models, singers, poets, catering, drumming, keyboard player, front of house, backstage, audience). Thus in a world where women are still largely seen as inferior, the success of this event proved what we can achieve when we pull together; a unity leading to brilliance, a slap in the face to every domineering male perspective that threatens to strangle us every time we take a step forward.

Last and by no means least, well done to Akemi Creative who had a vision, sowed the stressful seed of effort, reaped the reality, and in doing so did a fantastic job and enabled some fantastic women, to inspire and enrich the lives of others!!

(some useful links – http://www.releaseinternational.org, www.akemicreative.co.uk, http://www.akabidesign.com, http://www.lanyero.com, inwu.co.uk.

Facebook: Akabi Designs, El SaliDesigns, JayMarshFashion, Lanyero – Contemporary Fashion, Mae.boss (MA collection), AkemiCreative, Nyime, Michaela the Poet

Twitter: @AkabiDesign, @ElSaliDesigns, @JayMarshFashion)

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