imageAfrica’s brightest sartorial stars were recognised in a glittering ceremony at the prestigious annual Africa Fashion Awards (AFAs), organised by leading industry authority, African Fashion International (AFI), at Melrose Arch last night (2 November).

The culmination of four-day fashion extravaganza, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa (MBFWAfrica) 2014, the elegant event – featuring performances by SA Afro-Pop duo, Mafikizolo, and Dance-House artist, Donald – celebrated phenomenal contributions to the fashion industry across eight categories.

The title of Designer of the Year went to critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning fashion stalwart, Marianne Fassler (South Africa), for her continued capacity to surprise and delight after over two decades in the industry; whilst Katherine-Mary Pichulik (South Africa) took the title of Accessory Designer of the year for Pichulik, a bespoke label of hand-crafted neckpieces accessories.

Laduma Ngxokolo (South Africa) received the accolade of Emerging Designer of the Year for his Xhosa-heritage-inspired knitwear brand, currently taking international fashion by storm, MaXhosa by Laduma.

From behind the scenes, Gaschette Magazine (South Africa) – a digital fashion publication launched by creative trio, Colin O’Mara Davis, Steve Marais and Jessica Lupton – was named Outstanding Trend Communicator; whilst Omoyemi Akerele (Nigeria), founder of Lagos Fashion & Design Week and the founding artistic director of Style House Files, was awarded the title of Outstanding Contribution to African Fashion.

These five winners were selected by an esteemed panel of judges including former ELLE South Africa editor & iconic fashion influencer, Jackie Burger; UNISA Director of VC Projects and Advisor to the Principal, Professor Puleng LenkaBula; Zambian-born, London-based journalist and Editor of New African Woman magazine, ReGina Jane Jere; Marie Claire South Africa editor, Aspasia Karras; and top stylist and fashionista, Arieta Mujay

In addition, another three special awards (each judged by their own, separate panel of experts) were made on the night:

Up-and-coming designer, Rich Mnisi, was named AFI Young Designer of the Year, after his capsule collection, OATH, most impressed the judges – Bella Cebekhulu, Hanim Jane, Elihle Mnguni, Caileigh Davis & Ms Tarryn (ELLE magazine SA) – at the final showcase for the AFI Fastrack™ designer incubation programme during MBFWAfrica 2014 on Saturday.

The title of New Face of the Year was bestowed on Nigeria’s Next Supermodel 2011, Lucky Favour, by MBFWAfrica 2014 show producers, Deon Redman, Mary Reynolds and Jan Malan, who were best able to make the award, based on their close contact with the models.

Finally, AFI Executive Chairperson, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe personally recognised Vogue Italia editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani, for her significant involvement in promoting and developing the continent’s fashion industry, on the global stage – by spotlighting African designers, models and culture – and presented her with the award for Global Contribution to the Promotion and Development of African Fashion.

Photo credit: Simon Denier SDR Photo