Africa Fashion Week 2010: Marianne Fassler

More like a mini-series or off-broadway play than your typical runway show in the West, Fassler’s production started with a voiceover about Evolution, (ala Micheal Jackson’s Thriller), lighting changes, and a string of small sassy little girls stepping out with tattered cut-up tees and tulle skirts. I get it – the little girls were going from small to bigger = Evolution…although one or two versus four or five young ones would have been sufficient, but perhaps I’m being impatient and cynical about getting to the point at fashion shows.

Following the little girls was the adult version of the outfits and styling – wild hair with various colored  pieces inserted, smokey eyes, and mixed mesh knits with camo, animal prints, and earthy hues. Some of the more wearable and constructed pieces stood out, but after a string of models circled, then circled back on the long ‘H’ shaped runway, the entire collection started to look like a variation on one dress.

I would say that the staging of this very literal tribalism (that is apparently Fassler’s niche aesthetic), actually took away from identifying a solid wearable collection for the audience. At the same time, through the rag-tag dressing, there was a certain charm toward the end that felt very relevant for celebrating “Proudly South African” during the same week as the final world cup games. This point was punctuated when Fassler won the AFI “Best Womensear Designer” award later that week, that was presented to her by our favorite “Wave Your Flag” anthem artist, K’Naan, and she basically dedicated the award to him serenading him, “K’Naan, when I get older I want to be like you!”. Clearly African pride was heavy in her heart from the onset.

-July 1, 2009

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