Zimbabwe Fashion Week relaunches in Victoria Falls

Models showing off designs to be showcased at the Zimbabwe Fashion Week.

Throughout Africa, the month of October is recognised as the continent’s fashion month, where fashion week organisers across the continent plan week-long events to celebrate its designers.

In Zimbabwe, the premier resort of Victoria Falls will take centre stage today and tomorrow, when the iconic Victoria Falls Hotel and The Wine Experience at Elephant Walk host the much-anticipated Zimbabwe Fashion Week (ZFW) relaunch after a four-year hiatus.

It also marks the brand’s first-ever venture into the majestic location.

ZFW is a non-profit organisation founded by model-turned-entrepreneur Priscilla Chigariro.

It has long been celebrated as a symbol of creativity, diversity and excellence in the fashion industry.

According to organisers, the event will be an extraordinary fusion of fashion, culture and innovation.

Tomorrow afternoon will see selected designers showcase their collections at The Wine Experience at Elephant Walk, while the ZFW Creative Accelerator Programme will be launched in the evening at The Victoria Falls Hotel’s Pullman Suite.

The programme highlights the importance of fostering young designers’ growth and creativity.

The theme of this year’s programme revolves around honouring Mbuya Nehanda, a spiritual leader and cultural symbol during the First Chimurenga in Zimbabwe (1896-1897).

It has inspired the fashion technique of draping as the practical component students will learn and showcase.

Speaking about the Creative Accelerator Programme, whose emphasis is to re-imagine draping in fashion, the ZFW founder, Chigariro, emphasised the cultural significance of draping.

“Draping has a rich history in Zimbabwe, deeply intertwined with the nation’s cultural heritage. Historically, traditional Zimbabwean attire was intricately draped and beautifully adorned, reflecting the diverse ethnic groups and their distinct clothing styles,” Chigariro said.

“Draping allows designers to manipulate fabric directly on a mannequin, creating distinctive and three-dimensional designs. Understanding draping is a transformative skill that enables designers to translate their imaginative concepts into tangible fashion creations.”

She said during and even after Nehanda’s time, “women wore regal and draped attire, often adorned with traditional ornaments, which became a powerful representation of resistance and cultural identity”.

ZFW Trust director Marshall Mutsamwira underlined the broader impact of a thriving fashion industry.

“A thriving fashion industry in Zimbabwe is not merely a creative pursuit; it is a cornerstone of a dynamic, multi-sectorial ecosystem. The interconnectedness of fashion with tourism, commerce and various other sectors cannot be overstated,” Mutsamwira said.

ZFW’s Creative Accelerator Programme will serve as a critical stepping stone, equipping aspiring designers with the skills, knowledge and mentorship needed to thrive in the competitive world of fashion.

It comprises an intensive in-person and virtual training session with some of Zimbabwe’s globally recognised fashion practitioners and designers, including multi-award-winning accessory designer Pam Samasuwo, Nyawiri of Vanhu Vamwe and New York-based designer Evelyn Lambert, who has received acclaim from high-end boutique owners, premier media houses, celebrity stylists, photographers and A-list fashion socialites.

Her work has been seen on runways during New York Fashion Week.

ZFW 2023 has attracted support from the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust and the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe’s CreativeACTIONs2 project.

The project was launched in January 2023 with a focus on nurturing and empowering Zimbabwean artists and cultural practitioners across a spectrum of disciplines, encompassing music, dance, theatre, literary arts and fashion.

CreativeACTIONs2 aims to complement national development priorities by funding innovative artistic and cultural expressions, empowering civil society, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and providing training and skills development programmes for arts and culture practitioners.

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