The 4pm runway at Africa Fashion Week London 2023 transformed into a vibrant canvas where sartorial artistry and cultural narratives converged.

The show was one of 2 halves. First we saw designers mastering the art of Quiet Luxury; sophisticated menswear statements by Patrick Slim – his showcase epitomized a fusion of tradition and contemporary flair. Amarelis unveiled a collection of elegant evening dresses.

Then the show burst into African Pop-art as colour riots took center stage: visionary designer Preline seamlessly integrated bold, graphic elements into her creations and the avant-garde strokes of London College of Fashion’s emerging talent Nicoletta’s Boutique.

The amalgamation of diverse design philosophies dominated the runway, painting a vivid picture of the dynamism within Africa’s established fashion landscape.

Here are the collections of the 4pm show at AFWL2023

IK-PEN

IK-PEN is a luxury women’s fashion brand based in Abuja, Nigeria. The brand was founded in 2006 by Ikpen Yvonne Akwitti with the desire for perfection and craftsmanship.

The brand is African inspired with contemporary designs. It’s known for its bespoke services and prêt-a-porter. Her prêt a porter line engages ethnic details and fascinating silhouettes, providing timeless pieces for its opulent clientele, ranging from traditional bridal attires, every day classics, resort and glamorous dresses.

The collection was incredibly sophisticated catering to a European clientele with her Chanel-esque suits, and the modern African woman with clever touches of heritage adire fabric. An intriguing collection, beautifully tailored and in love with the female form; and one with something for everybody.

See IK-PEN Collection at AFWL2023

AMARELIS

Amarelis is a clothing and lifestyle brand that not only encompasses the simplicity of its designer, Lara Cole, but also uses virtuoso fabrics, creating introspective collections consisting of cutting-edge designs and on-trend styles.

Her catwalk collection designs were fluid, timeless and classic.   We liked the choice of fabrics showing that one colour outfits could catch light and show luxury. Dips into adire/tiedye also showed the designer was comfortable with print too.

Several pieces in this collection were imminently wearable and this brand will find itself a wardrobe staple for elegant original dresses.

See Amarelis Collection at AFWL2023

PATRICK SLIM

Innovative & African-inspired Menswear designer, Patrick Slim, is reinventing an utterly modern approach to fashion in Lagos, Nigeria and the world.

This collection was beautifully unfussy.  Lux fabrics matched simple, well-tailored caftans accessorized with beads and matching aso-oke (woven) ‘fila’ (hat) – a staple for the African man.

Patrick Slim seems to be a strong contender for “quiet luxury” in the African menswear market.

See Patrick Slim Collection at AFWL2023

ARIÁBA

ARIÁBA is a lifestyle brand located in Lagos, Nigeria. The design house hand-produces a full product range which includes exquisite and unique clothing, jewellery, accessories and home and body fragrances.

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We saw gorgeous and very wearable jumpsuits in one line print. The brand is grown-up, sexy and giving rich city-girl vibes. We were also taken with her covetable accessories, shirt dresses and feminine agbadas.

All in all an extremely accomplished collection with the majority of pieces, we can see in our own wardrobes. A designer to remember.

See ARIÁBA Collection at AFWL2023

PRELIM

Zimbabwean born designer Preline Martha is the designer behind the Prelim. A Prelim Design is always colourful driven with eye catching print. Her designs are inspired by the great South African Ndebele artist, Esther Mahlangu, including the cultures and traditions taught by her Zimbabwean grandmother, coupled with her experiences living in the inner city of London mixed in with the current afrobeat scene.

We first saw Prelim in 2017 when she wowed the catwalk with her handmade thigh boots made of ndebele fabric paired with bikinis and swimwear. This time she brought African pop-art to her signature thigh highs. Super-fun and a pleasure to watch this artist cement her design aesthetic.

See Prelim Collection at AFWL2023

HOUSE OF SOLANA

Sasha Solana Walton, designer and CEO of “House of Solana”, a USA fashion designer from Milwaukee Wisconsin. The brand specializes in plus size clothing by creating a variety from ready to wear to high end wear.

The brand has even found time to start their own beauty line – Solana Beautè which, was featured in British Vogue. The brand has showcased in London, Paris, Milan and has designed a dress for the Oscars.

This collection with models brought from the US featured a beautiful collection of dresses designed to flatter and matching accessories and fit. It was fun, flirty and finished and a welcome addition to AFWL2023.

See House of Solana Collection at AFWL2023

DECOR & STYLE

Decor & Style is a clothing and accessories brand from Portugal and is the creation of Paula Ceita a designer from Sao Tome and Principe. She made her debut in the world of fashion in the year 2000.  Since then, she has spread her creations all over the world. She works with a fusion of African and European fabrics for both men and women and well as home furnishings.

Decor & Style already held several fashion shows in Portugal, Sao Tome and in the United Kingdom.

The collection of mens and womenswear showed the versatility of the designer, formal dresses and avant-garde pieces showed themselves on the catwalk.

See Decor & Style Collection at AFWL2023

ETHNICITY CLOTHING

Ethnicity Clothing is a movement that produces quality afro eccentric clothing for women, men and children with a focus on investing and building a technical institute for garment manufacturing in Africa.

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The brand doesn’t stray far way from it’s signature print, but this collection showed versatility, but bringing a beautiful ballgown into the mix proving that the brand can excuse itself from its usual smart casual wear, and bring some playfulness to the catwalk.

See Ethnicity Clothing Collection at AFWL2023

NICOLETTA BOUTIQUE

London College of Fashion graduate Nicoletta graduated with Fashion Pattern Cutting and Design. Of Nigerian heritage, but born and raised in Venice, Italy her love and passion for fashion began from a young age, as the contrast of these two cultures with their colours, textiles, and creativity fascinated her.

The collection was created by connecting the Nigerian culture with the Italian culture. A burgeoning designer with confidence and one to watch.

See Nicoletta Boutique Collection at AFWL2023

TULLES & WOOLS

Tulles and Wools is an luxury bespoke brand based in the UK, dedicated to crafting timeless, sustainable and unique pieces. The brand specialises in Afrocentric designs, timeless fairytale dresses for mums and kids; crochet outfits, accessories and customised shirts.

Their passion for sustainable fashion drives them to create ethically-made garments, using eco-friendly materials and innovative production methods. With a focus on quality and individuality, they empower our customers to embrace their personal style while making a positive impact on the planet.

The collection showed a chic series of luxury bubus.  Comfort and design came together in ankara print, dye-resist patters and traditional embroidery.

See Tulles & Wools Collection at AFWL2023

ADIRE OODUA TEXTILE HUB

The Adire Oodua Textile Hub, established in 2021 by the founder of Africa Fashion Week London & Nigeria, Queen Ronke Ademiluyi-Oguswusi and under the Chairmanship of His Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, stands as a testament to her remarkable vision, drive, and determination.

At its core, the textile hub is a beacon for preserving and promoting the indigenous fabric of South West Nigeria, and its significance goes beyond textile production. Queen Ronke’s initiative empowers women entrepreneurs as the majority of the workforce at the hub. It also doubles as a teaching facility, passing on the invaluable heritage skills of Adire.

The textiles range from cotton. silk, chiffon. organza, aso-oke woven fabrics and these various types of adire:

Adire Eleko (dye resist using starch paste)
Adire Oniko (dye resist using raffia ties)
Adire Alabere (dye resist using needle and thread – stitch resist)
Adire Batik (dye resist using wax)

Designers can place small orders and repeat orders too for their collections.

See Adire Oodua Textile Hub Collection at AFWL2023