Review: 2022 MTC Windhoek Fashion Week
Last week, Namibian fashion lovers took on the seventh edition of the MTC Windhoek Fashion Week 2022. The event lived up to all the hype, I must say, and I was here for it.
With the dust now settled, I had to do my mandatory review. Buckle up, though, it's going to get bumpy!
I absolutely loved this year’s theme. Yay to being #SustainablyNamibian and advocating for ethical production and consumption in fashion - which has been proven to be one of the most wasteful sectors globally. But … It’s unfortunate that the theme largely fell on deaf or uninspired ears as most designers failed to communicate this message. A brand that did make a clear statement was Top Score, which showed us how far we can all take our recycling with their maize meal bags. The Snow Project by Andeline Wieland showcased more than a dozen gorgeous gowns that they rent for a small fee to underprivileged Namibian girls to wear for their matric farewell. In a world where fast fashion rules, it’s good to know that many privileged Namibian women are making Namibian girls’ farewells magical by donating their pre-loved dresses to this worthy cause.
Many designers used fabric paint and other kinds of manipulation to create texture and variation in a place where the availability of good fabric is still a dream. Some prints I absolutely loved were from Cultura, who showcased impressive spray-painted graffiti-style hand-made pieces. Rundu-based designer Santia Poroto maintained her style that features colourful statement print. Another stunner was J Class whose use of colour and texture brought what could have been the most basic textile to life.
On the blue carpet, our fashionistas also seemed to miss the sustainability memo, many showing up all glitz and glam with no hint of sustainability. I absolutely loved Disney Andreas, AKA Sustainability Bae’s interpretations of the themes. Not only did she shop from her wardrobe, but she went a step further to create a skirt from old newspapers!
I love a green-conscious queen!
Another style star I absolutely loved throughout Fashion Week was Aubrey Styling. Upcycling was his preferred choice for interpreting the #SustainablyNamibian theme and got it right every time.
I hate to say this, and it’s a very personal preference, but crotchet is just not it. It doesn’t matter which crochet designer is on the runway, but none of them impresses me. So, if you asked me, Lualbany could have been left off the lineup. Another dismal showing was Maison Sibolile. While their designs showed promise, they fell flat in terms of execution.
The most anticlimactic moment of all the runway shows came from Deon Angelo’s private, off-site showing. One of the much-anticipated shows of the week, especially judging from his previous stellar showcases, the event fell short of all expectations. While the first pieces to go down the runway impressed me, the other garments seemed rushed and lacked a clear vision. I love that his signature use of his modernised Odelela print was again present in his work, but I expected more. To wait for almost two hours for this show to close off Fashion Week on a Sunday afternoon (when most of us were supposed to be home preparing for the week) was one of the worst experiences.
The downright unbelievable
The only thing consistent about Fashion events in Namibia is tardiness. Day one of the runway shows had us waiting for three hours before the first slot started. Day two was better, as we were only delayed for an hour. On day 3, we were back to the struggle as we sat for almost two hours. The bar situation at all the shows was also quite stressful. I understand having a main liquor sponsor and mostly stocking their drinks, but refusing to sell water, soft drinks or any ciders (alcoholic or not) was downright crazy. Not to mention that as an attendee, you were thus forced to buy concoctions that cost so much. I was not impressed.
... honourable mentions
My star designer for the showcase was definitely Stephen van Eeden. The South African b bespoke wedding designer was in a league of his own as he sent the most magnificent gowns down the runway. Very few moments had me in awe during Fashion Week, and Van Eeden was right at the top of that list.
I also absolutely enjoyed Sirenga's powerful statement on the runway with almost every piece in the collection. Many designers have endeavoured down the streetwear path, but few have perfected this fashion genre as this Rundu-based designer has.
Zuriel by Luis Munana was another showstopping collection. With the backing of corporates like Standard Bank and liquour brand Chivas Regal for their collaborative collection - I expect nothing but excellence. One thing that amazes me about Luis is how he has perfectly positioned his brand to the point that big brands want to leverage his popularity. I honestly love this for both Luis and the industry as a whole. We are finally witnessing what possibilities lie in backing Namibian fashion brands. I can only hope that this sets a precedence for the entire industry to finally start getting the recognition it deserves.
Other notable collections included Honey Cassie and Da Broadway's collaboration, Sitwala, K Moraba and Kollective and Sweetness Mubita's Eye On Fashion.
Although still a student, Lady Roxy from the College Of The Arts showcased a beautiful and coherent collection and held her own alongside seasoned designers. Her use of the traditional Nama patchwork against monochromatic black staples was perfect. While this year's showcase was a toned-down version compared to last year's, Zuriel delivered on one thing - the ability to make us all feel like we were witnessing a spectacular fashion moment never to be forgotten, and as always, they delivered.
Finally, a special shout-out to the Fashion Week team for pulling off a relatively smooth event. The hours-long delays need to stop (it’s been years, guys, get it together!), but everything else was so impressive. It’s so wonderful to finally say that Fashion Week has definitely become THE event to attend in Namibia. We have come a long way, but we are here, standing tall and winning.
- All photos courtesy o @SIMZMKHWANAZI/@BESTFRIENDS_STUDIOS #MTCWFW2022 @MTC_WINDHOEKFASHIONWEEK #MADEINNAMIBIA