Black Lives Matter Designers Make History In Milan
Sumaira FH 2 months ago Wed 24th February 2021 | 04:50 PM
Milan, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 24th Feb, 2021 ) :Last minute touches on a frilly white dress, a final coat of powder and it's showtime for the Black Lives Matter-inspired collective making history at Milan Fashion Week.
After a years-long battle to improve diversity on the Italian catwalks, a group of five black designers made their on-schedule debut Wednesday by opening the women's Fall/Winter fashion shows.
Is opening fashion week a victory? "I'd say it's a first step," said Michelle Ngonmo, who chose those to include in the debut show.
Longer term, "we have to make the society we live in understand that the 'Made in Italy' label is not a question of skin colour but of know-how", she told AFP.
Nearby, fellow designer Fabiola Manirakiza played with silk in floral prints for her brand, Frida Kiza.
"In general, we are ignored, we are invisible. But this is a rebirth," exclaimed Manirakiza, whose parents were killed in 1972 in ethnic violence in Burundi.
- 'Wall of Silence' - Ngonmo co-founded the collective last year alongside designers Edward Buchanan and Stella Jean, who has been the only black member of the National Chamber for Italian Fashion since 2016.
"Now we're on the official Calendar, I've been dreaming about it since I've been in fashion," Fall said.
In a nod to his African origins, his collection -- "works of art that I transpose on clothes" -- featured satin lions and zebras in gold and red, his favourite colours.
"For years we came up against a wall of silence when knocking on the door" of the fashion chamber, said Ngonmo, the founder of Afro Fashion Week.
Thanks to the collective, "we have become more aware of this theme" of racism, he said, adding: "In fact, we could have done more." The chamber now supports the collective through tutoring on design and business skills, and finances the five designers' fashions show and the collections of three of them.
Buchanan, an African-American who has been in Italy for 25 years and co-founded the collection, said he has experienced racism on a daily basis.
He said people often assume that he makes T-shirts, or other garments for hip-hop fashion.
"They find it hard to imagine that I work in the luxury sector," he said.
But this first official show of the association gives hope to some.
"It's a dream come true," says Karim Daoudi, 27, a designer born in Morocco.
Of his shoes featured in the show, he said: "I hope they will go around the world."bh-ams/ar/lc