Milan Fashion Week to open with show by Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion collective
Five designers from the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion collective will kick off, with their Fall/Winter 2021-22 collections, the next Milan Fashion Week Women. The Milanese event is scheduled from Feb. 23 to March 1, and will be mostly staged virtually due to the pandemic. The collective's project was launched at the last Milan Fashion Week, in September, when it was relegated to the tail end of the calendar. Instead, this season it will be the first item on the show programme - set to start on Feb. 24 - right after the tribute to Beppe Modenese, the former president of the Italian Fashion Chamber (CNMI) who passed away last November.
“It’s extraordinary, it’s a very strong signal the Italian Fashion Chamber is broadcasting. It will be us setting the tone,” said to AFP on Thursday Michelle Ngonmo, co-founder of the collective alongside designers Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan. However, “it took quite a fight” before the collective was able to “overcome the CNMI’s hesitation in facilitating our access to the [Milan] Fashion Week. Now, CNMI is willing to listen to us,” added Ngonmo.
The same five designers who presented their collections in September will be showing this season. They are Joy Ijeoma Meribe from Cameroon, with her Modaf Designs label; Karim Daoudi from Morocco; Nigeria-born Claudia Gisèle Ntsama, with her Gisfab label; Fabiola Manirakiza from Burundi, founder of the Frida-Kiza label; and from Senegal, Pape Mocodou Fall, a.k.a. Mokodu, as his label is known. As they did in September, they will showcase their creations with a video entitled ‘We are made in Italy - The Fab Five Bridge Builders’.
In Italy, there are 450 fashion designers of African origin, who “are feeling discriminated because of the colour of their skin, so that many of them have emigrated to London, Paris or Beijing,” said Ngonmo. In 2015, Cameroon-born activist Ngomno founded the Afro Fashion Week, held in Milan once a year. “For five years, we crashed against a wall of silence when we knocked on the CNMI’s door, but now we are an integral part of [the Chamber], without losing our identity,” she said. “Ours are made-in-Italy labels, we manufacture in Italy, not in Africa,” underlined Ngonmo.
CNMI is helping immigrant designers who are living in Italy “to produce their collections in these difficult times,” emphasised Carlo Capasa, the CNMI’s president, talking to the press. CNMI part-funds these collections and puts the designers in contact with apparel and footwear producers willing to offer them discounts.
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