By Lauren Dei
What do you get when you mix an elite blend of black designers, a highly respected fashion institution championing equality across the industry, the UK’s premiere membership club for black women, and an upscale Central London venue fitted out for a full day of paradigm-shifting power-dressing?
Cue Black Fashion Week, hosted by Weg Bara, the international black women’s private membership club. Founded by mother-daughter team Belle and Barbara En Wegbara, the club has a growing sisterhood that spans London, Manchester, Belgium, and the Netherlands, with Dubai next on these enterprising ladies’ list. Their goal: to give professional black women opportunities to network, share exclusive experiences and be unapologetically fabulous.
On September 19th in the West End district of St James’, Black Fashion Week united the community in celebrating black creativity. A roadblock queue of fashionistas gathered in the midday sun outside plush Crown Estates venue, 12 Waterloo Place, with hopes of grabbing front row seats next to major fashion press editors and their favourite influencers. Barbara En Wegbara, rocking a suit from the latest collection by one of the event’s featured designers, Aissata Ibrahima, was seated front row on the day.
‘Getting the calibre of guests we have here today is an achievement we’re proud of’ said Barbara, the mastermind behind W Events of The Season – a programme of networking, experiential and luxury party events for both members and the public alike. ‘Support from our partners has made all the difference – people from other backgrounds increasingly want to engage with the community, and we ourselves are much more open to working together. Today is about celebrating the power of collaboration in the fashion business and beyond.’
The show unveiled new collections from influential brands across the diaspora: Adinkra, Aissata Ibrahima, Final Cut the Label, Grindshine, Kayadua, Kahindo NYC, Kiwi & Yam, Shako The Label and Verly Designs. A shoppable exhibition brought the focus back to supporting black businesses, with designers from Elephant & Bamboo and Adinkra on-hand to mingle with the guests. Legendary DJs Femi Williams and Kofi of The Young Disciples closed the night with a soulful afterparty set.
Partnering with the Fashion Minority Alliance was a no-brainer in bringing this event to life. As an agent for real change, the FMA works behind the scenes to promote the progress of BIPOC creatives, inspiring long-term shifts towards fashion industry inclusivity. Branding expertise, logistical support and digital design pointers are just a few of the resources the FMA has invested in making Black Fashion Week a success.
‘It’s been amazing to watch these plans blossom into action,’ said Barbara Kennedy-Brown, CEO of the FMA. ‘Weg Bara shares our ethos about levelling the playing field in the fashion world; this event has put some more designers on our radar whose work we’ll be keeping up with in the future. Kiwi & Yam’s protest on the runway was a show-stopping moment. The brands represented tonight are all so unique and different from each other – it’s great to not only see their work but to also hear their stories.’
If you weren’t front row and centre to hear those stories first-hand don’t worry – GUAP had full VIP, front row and backstage access. So put on your imaginary guest pass, rock your flyest outfit and sip some rosé from your favourite mug while we bring the show to your screen. Welcome to the after-after party.
Discover more from GUAP’s fashion section here