For us at BellaNaija Style, the month of March is dedicated to celebrating women all around the world through our BellaNaija Style Women’s Month.
Today we are celebrating and highlighting established African female designers who have won accolades for their exemplary work and roles in showcasing African spirit, culture, and diversity through their designs.
The narrative is changing now more than ever, and African fashion is receiving the recognition it truly deserves, at the forefront of the industry, we have a good number of African female designers trailblazing the continent and the globe.
To celebrate this revolution, we have curated a list of 10 established African designers who exemplify excellence and shatter the status quo both internationally and locally.
Lisa Folawiyo is a Nigerian fashion designer who is best known for marrying Ankara and traditional African fabrics with modern tailoring techniques. Her fashion brand Lisa Folawiyo Studios is arguably one of Africa’s most sort after brands – from its delicately detailed Ankara pieces to its hand-beaded accessories, among others.
Her collections have been showcased on various fashion platforms around the world, from Lagos to Milan. So it comes as no surprise that a host of international celebrities such as Gigi Hadid, Issa Rae and more, rock pieces from her iconic brand. Lisa has also become a style icon in her own right, having been featured in style bibles Vogue and ELLE a good number of times.
Ejiro Amos Tafiri
Ejiro Amos Tafiri is the Creative Director & Founder of Ejiro Amos Tafiri (E.A.T) brand. Ejiro established her brand in 2010 and by 2015, a collection of her work tagged “The Madame” was showcased at the Native & Vogue Port Harcourt Fashion Week, Dakar Fashion Week and Kenya Fashion Week. Ejiro has been featured in several top-tier publications such as CNN, Aljazeera, MarieClaire and a host of others.
Ejiro Amos Tafiri has shown its collections on international platforms in Africa such as Lagos Fashion Week, Gtbank Fashion Weekend, Dakar fashion week, FIMO, Togo Fashion Festival, the brand is also among the 100 African owned fashion brands that featured on ‘Black Parade’ by Beyoncé.
The E.A.T brand is fueled with a vision to become a global brand associated with crafting unique and delicate garments whilst channelling sustainability and preservation of culture for the discerning global citizen, a confident and self-aware woman who is utterly feminine and romantic at heart.
Sindiso Khumalo is an eponymous label that fuses modern sustainable textiles with a strong emphasis on African storytelling. Sindiso designs the textiles in her collections by hand through watercolours and collage. Her work has been published in Vogue Italia, Vogue UK, Elle Magazine and Marie Claire Magazine and a host of others. She has collaborated with IKEA, Woolworths South Africa, Vodacom, The Sanlam Handmade Fair on bespoke designs. She was also a finalist for the 2020 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.
Ivorian American fashion designer Loza Maléombho created her namesake brand in 2009 because she was passionate about blending her Ivorian heritage with modern fashion. She effortlessly merges African fabrics with modern aesthetics that honours her Ivorian history. In 2012, she relocated her fashion studio from New York to Cote d’Ivoire and has partnered with local artisans that are also passionate about pushing their Ivorian traditions to the global front. Loza has been worn by Iman, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé for Black Is King. She has also been featured in ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, CNN and a host of others.
US-based Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba is the Founder & Fashion Designer of US-based womenswear brand Hanifa. Since the launch of her groundbreaking digital show experience, the #PinkLabelCongo in 2020, Hanifa has been featured in leading style publications, such as Vogue, Essence, Elle and more. Her statement-making clothing brand offers bold colours and interesting silhouettes that are hard to miss and has earned the likings of A-list celebrities including Kylie Jenner, Zendaya and Lizzo. Anifa recently became a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
Ghanaian award‑winning fashion designer Aisha Ayensu is the founder and Creative Director of top luxury womenswear brand Christie Brown. The pivotal moment in her career was when she won the 2009 Emerging Designer of the Year Award at the inaugural Arise Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg, South Africa. Aisha has also been featured in global magazines including Harper’s BAZAAR, Vogue Italia, Vogue Brazil, Arise and Essence to name a few. Christine Brown has been worn by Beyonce, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Genevieve Nnaji, Jackie Appiah, Sandra Alexandra Don‑Arthur and a host of others.
Selly Raby Kane
Renowned Senegalese fashion designer, filmmaker, and 2019 Time Next Generation Leader Selly Raby Kane is known for redefining the perception of African designs. Selly has a contemporary approach to African fashion, her style crosses over from fashion, architecture, and film. She uses three-dimensional mould shapes and proves that design and art are all around us. Her designs have been worn by Beyoncé and Naomi Campbell to name a few.
Ivory Coast-born designer Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud is the founder of Abidjan and Paris-based menswear label Laurenceairline. Laurence has provided training for the locals in Ivory Coast with conscious efforts to build Africa’s fashion for the international scene in terms of top-notch production and bold contemporary designs made in Africa. Apart from her philanthropy, Laurence boasts of high-quality streetwear rich in pattern and colour, while blazing the trail as a woman in the Ivorian menswear industry. She has been featured in Dazed and Wonderland Magazine. Her designs have been worn by Keziah Jones and Jidenna.
Ethiopian designer and Top model Liya Kebede is the CEO of sustainable fashion label LemLem. The fashion line is an eclectic mix of dresses, bottoms, tops and accessories that are made from locally sourced materials and handcrafted by local artisans in Addis Ababa. Liya is passionate about preserving traditional Ethiopian weaving techniques. Lemlem has been featured in Vogue Runway and Harper’s BAZAAR. The brand has also collaborated with Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Sumaiya Dzietror is the co-owner/creative director of the renowned Ghanaian fashion house, Pistis Ghana. Pistis is a company that currently stands at the frontline of the fast-growing African fashion industry while making major strides in the international markets.
The brand is adept at infusing traditional styles with the much more modern creations ending up in awesome and breathtaking pieces. Pistis is popular for its workmanship which is at the centre of every masterpiece made for each client. Naomi Campbell, H.E Mrs Rebecca Akuffo-Addo (First Lady of Ghana, Mrs Samira Bawumia (Second Lady of Ghana), Bozoma St.John, make up a list of popular women who have been styled by Pistis.