“We are Made in Italy” Africa-born designers!

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Fabiola Manirakiza was born in Burundi but she learned how to sew in a school run by Italian nuns in Zaire, which became the Democratic Republic of the Republic of the Congo. When she founded her label Frida Kiza in Italy in 2016, she used this skill as a trained doctor and was named as a tribute to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. After her parents were killed in Burundi in 1972, Fabiola Manirakiza came to Italy. In her Kiza label, Made in Italy, she incorporates in a western-sized silhouette, the influence of the Italian family who raised her, motifs from its Bantu tribe, as she was taught by an elder sister. 

Five Italian designers of African origin made their runway debut during Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 under the banner We are Made in Italy, having nurtured dreams deemed unlikely in their native lands and which faced considerable obstacles in their adopted Italy.

Photo Credit: A model wears a creation by fashion designer Fabiola Manirakiza’s Frida Kiza, as part of the Black Lives Matter Fall/Winter 2021/22 collective fashion show, presented in Milan, Italy, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo)

Photo Credit: Gisèle Claudia Ntsama; Photo Source: Milano Fashion Week

Claudia Gisèle Ntsama is a Cameroonian fashion designer. She then relocated to Bologna, where she enrolled in the Accademia di Belle Arti’s Fashion Design program. She was able to attend classes at the “Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin” in Strasburg, where she specialized in textile design, thanks to the Erasmus exchange program. She fell in love with hemp, a noble, organic fiber that isn’t commonly used in the fashion industry, after digging deep into the study of different materials. 

Claudia participates in Milan Fashion Week with her namesake brand, offering a capsule collection that exudes high-end artisanal craftsmanship while also revealing the designer’s passion for modern art and the purity of Japanese fashion design. Claudia created a collection of knitted pieces that feature intriguing volumes and elegant color variations, focusing solely on the use of hemp.

Gisèle Claudia Ntsama’s Collection; Photo Source: Milano Fashion Week

Gisèle Claudia Ntsama’s Collection; Photo Source: Milano Fashion Week

Gisèle Claudia Ntsama’s Collection; Photo Source: Milano Fashion Week

A model wears a creation by fashion designer Joy Meribe as part of the Black Lives Matter Fall/Winter 2021/22 collective fashion show, presented in Milan, Italy, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo)

A model wears a creation by fashion designer Frida Kiza as part of the Black Lives Matter Fall/Winter 2021/22 collective fashion show, presented in Milan, Italy, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo)

Photo Credit: Karim Daoudi; Photo Source: Milano Fashion Week

Karim Daoudi was born in Morocco and now lives in San Mauro Pascoli, in the heart of the Italian footwear city, where he works for a shoe company. Karim attended the Cercal Institute to study footwear design. Following his passion for shoes, he launched his own company in 2017, winning a Federmoda Roma contest for young designers and exhibiting his designs at The One Milano trade show in the same year. He collaborated with Milano Unica in 2018 thanks to Cercal’s help, and in 2019 he was one of the participants in the “Fashion Graduate Italia” show. 

The Karim Daoudi brand offers high-end shoes that are handcrafted in Italy by professional artisans and combine beauty, style, and comfort. The designer was influenced by a colorful jungle for the Fall/Winter 2021 series, producing a vibrant color palette ranging from bright green to hot pink, with elegant black&white touches. The models, which were produced in collaboration with the Ballin shoe brand, include refined optical pumps, booties, and sensual cage boots, all of which are enriched with eye-catching toe caps, giving the collection a distinct look.

Karim Daoudi’s collection; Photo Source: Milano Fashion Week

Karim Daoudi’s collection; Photo Source: Milano Fashion Week

From September, when the collections of Fab Five were hung in an exhibition room, collaboration has expanded to include one good five-day runway show, which takes place 99 per cent online at Milan Fashion Week. The designers worked with suppliers for their autumn-winter 2020-21 series and received expert mentorship from experts, all organized by the Italian Fashion Council, to bring their creations into a stronger partnership. A multi-ethnic team of designers, hairstylists and makers were present to prepare the runway show, and buyers can see the collection on the website of the Italian Chamber of Fashion.

Edited by Atlanta Mahanta

References: Milano Fashion Week

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