dimanche 1 juillet 2012


 (by Fal-bla-bla) 

"Greluches et fanfreluches" may be translated as "A chick's antics"


 London 2015. One of my oldest dreams was about to come true. Two fairies would tend to it: Aicha of the YouTube channel “Black Hair Velvet” and the British branch of Motions Hair. They would make sure my short stay in London would be as unforgettable as possible and would make my first Fashion Week experience an amazing adventure.

I did not know what to expect. I rarely ask questions so on this occasion, my no-question policy made the event even more mysterious: hardly did I know that I would attend real-life runway shows but what I totally ignored was that I would do so as a VIP (avoiding the pre-show queues) and I would have the opportunity to sneak backstage and see what a show preparation was all about.

I took pages of notes and at least one giga of photos and videos.

Let me take you through my very own Africa Fashion Week London experience!

London is calling

I leave Nice, in the South of France, very early in the morning, take a plane in Marseille and on my ride on the Gatwick Express, I get a chance to meet an affable lady, whose wax outfit has attracted me: she must know the way to the venue. She briefly tells me about the event (which she has already attended) and in turn, I mention Motions Hair and my blog. She promises she will come and see me at the Motions stand. A very agreeable meeting which foreshadows a weekend full of friendly and easy interactions.

A stylish yellow figure waves at me: I finally get to meet Aicha. I have been watching her videos for years now and meeting her in person is a great pleasure. She is even more likable off-camera by the way. She introduces me to Motions brand managers: Becky Shand and Traci, who kindly welcome me. But in keeping with my chick ethics, I feel an urge to get dressed properly as soon as possible. A quick glance at the venue and I start feeling the pressure: everywhere, wax outfits are worn with so much style and passion that I feel compelled to be up to par. Aicha definitely relates: she hastily leads me to what will be our cosy office / rest / dressing / eating / phone-charging / chatting / whatnot area for the next two days. I quickly set about selecting a wax piece that would fit the event and finally feel ready to discover what Africa Fashion Week London is all about.
AFWL is not a mere show - it is a salon as well : talented designers and crafters from various parts of the world exhibit their creations. Wax galore for the Afrocentric aesthetics lover: all sorts of fashion pieces, bags, headbands and jewelry are on display. Gift galore, as well. A shopaholic like myself would therefore postpone that unavoidable moment when a girl embarks on a hazardous spree and even goes as far as wearing what she has just bought. I am pretty sure you can relate.

"Really, Aicha...?"
Time to eat now. No jerk chicken or dumplings for me unfortunately: the line is too long and I am starving after my long journey. Next time for sure. Soon, Aicha lets me know that we are allowed to go backstage. The news obviously overjoy me but I am slightly hesitant. A poster explicitly warns the daring visitor: only models and designers are allowed in. I trust Aicha and tiptoe through the half opened door of what looks like a seraglio whose occupants would be quick to spot outsiders. Luckily, no one seems to be bothered.
Hair must be slain. Four hands are needed sometimes...

All around, never-ending crossed legs, graciously tied silk gowns, hair and makeup brushes, spray (Motions of course). The stylish hum of the bee hive. A chick's dream can be seen from a distance on a series of racks: an endless range of perfectly cut pieces at the top and a rainbow of breathtakingly high stilettos drawn on the floor. I cannot wait to see these pieces come to life on the catwalk. 

Le Ekhaya rack: one of my favorite collections.

All of a sudden, I catch sight of an unexpected gathering around a charismatic man, who happens to be the Creative Director of the show - Sola Oyebade. His demeanor resembles that of a professor, giving his instructions with both kindness and firmness to a crowd of attentive and admiring disciples. His words are welcomed with bursts of laughter and applause.

Models are not allowed to sit or do anything once they are fully dressed. I am impressed by the their patience and their joie de vivre creates a refreshing playground ambiance: cell phones in hand, and heels on feet, the girls seem to enjoy the wait and still display great professionalism.
This Young lady is a PhD student.

As soon as a camera is pointed towards their stunning faces, they freeze and strike a pose. Even under the expert brush strokes of zealous makeup artists and meticulous hairdressers or caught in a shot right behind the creative director, they remain alert and maintain a constant state of readiness. 
This is one of the most adorable models, posing behind the Creative Director, who is giving his last instrustions.  
One of the fiercest girls.

We ask two models if they would like to pose for us. Soon, a third girl joins them, then four girls are posing; finally a group photo is improvised and cell phones literally rain in my hands: "Take one for snapchat, darling". They all laugh with mischievous complicity and in a way they make us feel accepted. Later we would watch these girls go down the runway and we would reminisce these unexpected backstage moments.  

One last glance at the models' line-up and we are ready to go, resting assured that we know what no other out there knows. 



New Motions

The brand has decided to renew itself and wants us all to know: gold packaging and a brand new line catering to natural textures. Visitors are invited to submit a picture of themselves on Instagram and the lucky winner will leave the salon with a makeover, a basket of products and an outfit kindly offered by one of the exhibitors. We salute this brilliant initiative as well as the flawless styling of the models whose sculptural mohawks served perfectly the different collections that would later go down the catwalk. Besides managing to establish selfie-sticks as the norm at Olympia, Motions has undeniably been a very welcoming host and an outstanding sponsor of this fifth edition of AFWL.

I will tell you more about two of their new products in a future post. 
Source compte Instagram +MotionsHair 

Light, camera, action!

6.30. The first show is about to start. Despite our arriving late, we are seated on the second row. And without further ado, a gang of fierce models takes over the catwalk. A great deal of pieces arouse the spectators' excitement, who indulge in the show as well as in the fitting soundtrack carefully put together by the sound illustrator. Shazam is our best friend on such occasions, isn't it? 
I am amazed by the plethora of impeccable creations and will soon tell you more about it in a coming post.
Source: Innocente Messy Online
A few more minutes and that's a wrap! We now head to the Kensington apartment Motions UK kindly accommodated us in...
The show must go on...

Day 2 was an even more thrilling repetition of day 1, in spite of our being a bit tired. More friendliness and even more style among the visitors. Between two shows, we would come and go, socialize 2.0-style at the Motions stand, cards would be swapped casually and flashes would go off, while our updating different social media timelines would turn our drained phones into cold-lighted kaleidoscopes.

Odette Steele, a proud Zambian whose style amazed us.

 René Daniella et Fro Girl Ginny chatting at the Motions stand.
 "Can I take a picture of you, please? "
 This man stole the show. So much charisma and style!

Through one of those frantic updates, I found out that Laila of the YouTube channel Fusion of Cultures was at the Motions stand. Needless to say I fangirled and took a picture with her.  

 Source: Compte Instagram +FusionofCultures  
The weekend smoothly came full circle and I left London with a lot of sweet memories, a very enlightening experience and a much heavier suitcase: Aicha, the Motions UK team and AFWL really managed to make a girl's dream come true and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for this amazing London adventure! 
The pictures whose source is not mentionned are all mine.

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