New York: On the evening of Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015, International luxury furniture manufacturer, Roche Bobois, hosted an African Fashion and Philanthropy event, benefiting the African Fashion Fund (AFF), founded by Roberta Annan and managed by the Rai Group International. Over 100 guests filled the Roche Bobois U.S. flagship showroom on Madison Avenue with an inspired energy, all eager to embrace a dialogue about cultural diversity in fashion. While enjoying wine and champagne from VOGA ITALIA, guests talked all things fashion, floated around the showroom, and stopped to admire Designer Afua Dabanka’s MO SAIQUE shoes which were on display in the center of the room, perfectly complementing the bright colors of Roche Bobois furniture.
The real beauty of the night began to unfold as guests seated themselves on Roche Bobois’ AVA and LOOP chairs and gathered around the ASTROLAB dining table, the space transformed into a stage for the second half of the evening: a philanthropic discussion featuring keynote speakers, Mrs. Phumzile Mlanbo-Ngcuka, Guest of Honor, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Moderator, Annette Richardson, Stephen Burks, and panelists, Jodie Patterson, Dr. Shirley Madhere, Gbemi Abudu, and Nora Gherbi.
All eyes were glued to the illuminative Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija as the conversation shifted to sustainable development goals, women empowerment, and support for young fashion designers through Roberta Annan’s African Fashion Fund (AFF.) “Funny, funny, African designers” is a hard thing to hear, Alakija explained, but she hears this far too often. The truth, she pointed out, is that culture influences all design, and diversity should always be a part of the equation.
“I am happy to endorse the African Fashion Fund and its sales and distribution arm, Frallain Inc., for their efforts to expand the global footprint of African Luxury Brands. It is time for Africa to tap into the billion dollar fashion industry and to focus on good quality products to remain competitive in the market,” Mrs. Alakija remarked, founder of her own successful foundation, The Rose of Sharon Foundation.
African designers have long faced huge challenges of inclusion and relevance in the luxury market, the panelists explained. Annan added: “This event happened at the right place, at the right time, and with the right people. African luxury is not an oxymoron, it is the reality.” And Roche Bobois is on the exact same page, being one brand that has realized the headwaves of Africa in the commercial fashion industry with their use of traditional patterns and textiles; African skills and talents are emerging from everywhere. Stephen Burks, the first American designer to work with the brand since Vladimir Kagan, applauded Roche Bobois for having collaborated with designers from all around the world, making Roche Bobois a brand with a genuine and remarkable global consciousness.
“They’re beginning to have a dialogue with markets around the world,” Burks said. General Manager Roche Bobois Northeast U.S., Pierre Berardo, added that he was thrilled to open his doors to the important conversation of the unstoppable influence of diversity in design.
Notable Guests: Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Founder of The Rose of Sharon Foundation, Roberta Annan, CEO, RAC, Mrs. Phumzile Mlanbo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, Annette Richardson, Senior Advisor at the United Nations Office for Partnerships, Stephen Burks, prominent American designer, Jodie Patterson, Owner, Doobop and Georgia by Jodie Patterson, Dr. Shirley Madhere, holistic plastic surgeon, Gbemi Abudu, Vice President, Business Jets Limited, Mr. Tonye Cole of Sahara Oil, Mr. Peter Twyman, CEO Keep a Child Alive, Susan Moses, celebrity stylist, Ms. Leili Gerami, Board Member Spring Studios, Nora Gherbi, Founder Who Cares Chronicles
African Fashion Fund (AFF) is a not-for-profit organization that supports and develops emerging African fashion designers. AFF aims to further African fashion designers’ success in the global fashion industry and luxury market by providing capacity building through internship placements, manufacturing and production assistance, and grants and scholarships. www.africanfashionfund.org
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