Something Extra | Thursday
Five African-born designers making their runway débuts opened Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday under the banner ‘We are Made in Italy’, having nurtured dreams deemed fanciful in some of their native countries and which faced considerable obstacles coming to fruition in their adopted Italy.
Joy Meribe, who is originally from Nigeria, started out working in Italy as a cultural mediator. Fabiola Manirakiza came to Italy as a child from Burundi and first trained as a doctor. Morocco-born Karim Daoudi grew up in a shoemaking town in northern Italy and eventually took up the local craft. Pape Macodou Fall arrived from Senegal at age 22, applying his creative streak as an actor, film producer, figurative painter, and now as a designer of upcycled garments. Just one of the five, Cameroonian Gisele Claudia Ntsama, set her sights on Italy with the singular, already mature goal of a fashion career.
The designers, dubbed ‘the Fab Five’, are the first crop of creators nurtured through a collaboration between the National Chamber of Italian Fashion and the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion movement. Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean, Milan-based African-American designer Edward Buchanan, and Afro Fashion Week Milano founder Michelle Ngonmo launched the movement last summer.