At an event organized by industry leaders that saw an evening turn into glamour; fashionistas, dignitaries, and guests descended on Sheraton’s Lalibela ball room. The night starting with cocktails, and then models strutting designers’ cloth, met the purpose of the event, promoting new designers and raise funds for dis-enfranchised children which it did through its auctions successfully, writes Senait Feseha.
The past Friday at Sheraton Addis, the air was struck with glamour. Collections from leading local bag designers hit the runway. A welcome call for a mixture of colours, materials and embellishments, this occasion brought together a wide variety of shapes and sizes from the chic Totes and Clutches to Cross-bodies and Satchels, All products were stitched, beaded, dyed and embroidered by the city’s best craftspeople. Attended by the capital’s top businessmen, designers, ambassadors and notables, The Bag Show demonstrated its exclusivity and distinctiveness.
This well attended event – with over 500 individuals – was not only a platform for those in the fashion industry to showcase their newest trends, but also to raise funds for “Our Father’s Kitchen”. Our Father’s Kitchen, is a children’s feeding program that runs under Hiwot Integrated Development Association (HIDA), designed to help children, especially orphans and those living with HIV/AIDS.
On the day of the event, supporters of Our Father’s Kitchen came together to network, celebrate and raise funds for the local charity. The event was organised by Prologue, a Public Relations Firm and Cactus Communications with the goal of supporting local designers (primarily women) and aiding children living in extreme poverty. Yasser Bagersh, founder of Our Father’s Kitchen stated: “The purpose of this event is two-folds: encouraging up-and coming designers throughout the city and the support of and daily feed of 300 children with a wholesome meal in our two separate community kitchens located in Lideta and Kolfe.” He also mentioned how big names such as the American Embassy, Heineken, Class Plus, Tarara Coffee and What’s Out Addis partnered with Prologue and Cactus Communications to support the good cause.
The evening started with a pre-show cocktail party, while an army of people prepared behind the scenes with quick fixes and last-minute changes; guests, invitees and dignitaries mingled with each other around the Lalibela Ballroom. After cocktails, the main show kicked off hosted by Metasebya Shewaye Yilma, a media personality and President Elect of The Association of Women in Boldness (AWiB). While engaging tribal music played at the background, eighteen females, three male and two child models walked along the runway exhibiting meticulously designed bag collections from nine designers.
The criteria designers needed to meet, in order to participate, was “innovation, quality and functionality,” Yasser said. The designers, comprised of Anna Getaneh, a former acclaimed international supermodel, a humanitarian and owner of African Mosaique, Aynalem Ayele from Aynis Design, Emebet Tsegaye From Emu, Meron Seid from Leather Exotica, Hirut Gougsa from Mela Design, Beza Adugna from Ruby Leather Accessories; and expatriates like Flaminia Paternȯ from Afar and Kohar Kevorkian from Si-bago, and Kenny Allen, who is also a musician, producer, actor, singer, song writer and founder of Und Kǝn. The ensemble presented their works, each with a different inspiration that were specifically created for the Bag Show collection.
Designer Aynalem Ayele’s inspiration was based on elegance; “the material I used was leather, I combined the concepts of exotic and natural to create a harmonious and elegant look.” Meron Seid went for a more geometric look; “My inspiration rises from the shapes resulted by a diamond after it is cut. The different hexagonal and polyhedron shapes are displayed in my designs using monochromatic and duo-chromatic colours,” While designer Kohar Kevorkian used a rather unusual material, a fibre that comes from the “koba leaf” to produce her collections.
The models were wearing attires designed by Paradise Fashion, a company known for its hand woven Ethiopian materials. Its owner Genet Kebede said: “The inspiration for the outfits came from the need to display the bags well. Yasser and I decided it would be best to use grey and black as theme colours. The colours, in addition with the simple and elegant casual look, created a great contrast that helped showcase the bags. Thankfully, people have taken notice and gave their appreciations.”
The make-up for the models was done by Sheba Bouton, a Virginia-based Ethiopian makeup artist. Sheba stated that it was one of the most organized and well-coordinated fashion events she had attended. “I enjoyed the show; the camaraderie between designers, models, the whole atmosphere was great. At the end of the day fashion is fashion, everyone works to get inspiration, to form networks and increase clients. What makes this event different is its purpose.”
Preceding the runway show, there was a live auction, dinner, drinks and a pop-up shop that set up at the Sheraton.
The auctioneers were Eleni Gebre-Medhin (PhD), an internationally recognized economist, former CEO of ECX and founder of blueMoon and Yaasser Bagersh. Each designer contributed a one of a kind piece from their collection. Proceedings from the auction were donated to the Our Father’s Kitchen Program. “The event was a success, some of the winning bidders even offered to give the money and present the piece for re-bidding,” an employee at Cactus said.
One of the designers, whose piece went on auction for a second time, was Emebet Tsegaye. Her piece titled “Hammer” won around 50,000 birr to the Foundation. Emebet’s design was inspired by the idea of “perfecting the handmade crafts.” Her works are completely hand painted and hand stitched incorporating African beads and leather.
The pop-up shops continued through the next day, and designers where selling bags from their collections. At the end of the event a lot of professionals involved were satisfied with the final outcome. One of the professionals’ present was Kenny Allen. “It was a great experience, it provided a great opportunity to perceive creative works of other designers and learn for the future” and for designers like Aynalem Ayele the show was a reason to go bigger “the event was something we have been anticipating, the goal of helping the children made us work harder and better” he said.
According to Genet Kebede, in addition to raising funds to the charity program and bringing positive outcomes to all stakeholders involved, the event also promoted the “Made in Ethiopia” movement.
Ed.’s Note: Senait Feseha is on an internship at The Reporter:
Contributed by Senait Feseha