17 shows in one night is what you call a fashion marathon. That’s a pretty big night for local fashion, showcasing the best the continent has to offer. The stand out shows were those that had a strong sense of cohesiveness and individualism. Some designers went even further, showing collections that felt truly new and exciting – pushing their brands forward into new and extremely desirable creative territory. These are the highlights from AFI Cape Town Fashion Week’s final evening.

Photographed by Tatyana Levana

Nicholas Coutts’ (South Africa) return to womenswear is major. This extensive collection caters to a range of customers and potential dress codes – a seminal coming-of-age moment for the brand. The show was sophisticated, well thought through, and beautiful. 2018 holds four more local fashion weeks, but you’d be safe to bet on this show as one of the best of the year.

 

Matte Nolim (South Africa) has a special skill for igniting desire. (He was one of the first to show frills and flares.) He could easily have done more of the same, but pushed himself to new and equally desirable territory. That patent canary yellow jacket and the hip-tie shirt dress are at the top of our list.

 

Wouldn’t we all like to lounge around in molten gold? W35T Nicola West (South Africa) is making that a reality. Big ups to West for injecting an unmistakable sense of signature into her collections.

 

Did we mention we love everything on the yellow/orange/gold palate this season? AFI Privè (South Africa) ensured that love affair continues.

 

But wait, there’s more yellow where that came from. AFI Privè By David Tlale (South Africa) saw an optimistic mashup of bright yellow prints.

 

Tongoro by Sarah Diouf (Senegal) will make print lovers very happy. We also need to take a moment to appreciate the hair situation – unparalleled.

 

Craig Port’s collection was a loving and optimistic tribute to his late sister Laura. These are clothes from the heart.

 

There comes a time for ever print-centric brand where, once established, people begin to question what comes next. Just another print isn’t enough. It’s a delicate place to be at, and Imprint’s Mzukisi Mbane (South Africa) just proved himself beyond any doubt. Mbane dialled his prints back this season emphasising colour, form, fabric, and accessories without straying from his core values. Many audience members were experiencing Wakanda feels. An accompanying video, screened before the first look, showed the collection in an optimistic representation of township life. The collection and video felt honest, desirable, modern, and unmistakably South African. An achievement.

 

Adama Paris (Senegal) showed a highly alluring boudoir-inspired collection. The sheer coverups and gorgeously manipulated velvet felt distinctly indoor-centric, but the wealth of costume jewellery made it clear: this woman is about to tear up the town.

 

Adele Dejak (Kenya)’s statement jewellery was gorgeous and varied. From chokers, to ear cuffs and those mobile earrings, there was a wealth of things to love.

 

We need more designers like Ituen Basi (Nigeria) – ones that put you in a good mood with their designs. Basi’s sense of creativity and playfulness with shapes conjure a contemporary Alice in Wonderland wardrobe.

 

Khosi Nkosi showed one of her best collections ever – it was classic, contemporary, commercial, and had great range. The overall look: boss lady with a beret.

 

Lumiere Couture (Ghana) served a generous helping of that orange optimism – this is clearly a trend with staying power.

 

Orapeleng Modutle Style Avenue (South Africa) closed the shows with a collection of gowns fit for a princess. As the final model made her exit, you couldn’t help but wonder which local celeb will be spotted wearing this collection first.

 

Matte Nolim runway image / AFI