It has taken two years on the drawing board but Cameroonian born model and designer Diana Tambe has finally settled on dates for the first ever African Fashion week Amsterdam AFWA.
As the date gradually approaches, Diana told Francis Ngwa the challenges she faced and what visitors should expect when the big day finally arrives.
Q You have finally settled on November 1-3 as the final dates for the first ever African fashion week Amsterdam. Why did it take two years to get to this stage?
It took two years because of all the preparations that you need to do to stage an event of this magnitude. This includes setting up the website but especially getting the right team of people to work with. It also takes a long time to approach all the designers you need to attend the event and also getting the sponsors. It takes a lot of time to plan all this which is why it took this long to set a date
Q So why November then?
Our initial dates were Octobe 25th-27th but the hall we finally acquired (The World Fashion Centre Amsterdam) will not be available on those dates because it has been hired out. We therefore accepted the next available dates which are November 1-3. We chose that particular time of the year because we are targeting a lot of African and African inspired designers so we wanted to do it when the weather is warm. November will be warm enough especially for our African based designers who will be flying in from the continent. Since we are showcasing African designs, it is good we do so in a bright and sunny weather, not in cold winter. Let me add here that all those inspired or designing for an African market even if they are not Africans, are welcome to our event.
Q What should people expect to see when the event finally begins?
We will be using the services of high profile celebrity hosts. Discussions are still ongoing so I can’t give you any names now. We have invited quite a good number of celebrity stylists too. We have also invited some high profile African musicians and dancers who will be opening and closing the events. The event will last for three days and we have arranged it in a way that we will showcase the work of starter designers, up and coming designers and established designers.
Q I understand you will be including a new fashion line for children. Why did you decide to do that?
That has not been happening in most other fashion weeks so we decided to include this as an exclusive addition to our fashion event.
Q You mentioned that some African musicians will be attending the event. Any names for now and does that mean there will be loads of music during the three day jamboree?
Let me say we want to keep that as a surprise. Suffices to say apart from the music, we will also have a lot of African traditional dancers, and other arts exhibitors who will be taking part in the shows. Trust me, we are reserving a lot of surprises which people will only get to discover when they attend the events. As fo the names of the musicians who will be attending, when our fliers are out, you will get to know some of the names of the musicians who will be attending since you insist on getting names.
Q I understand you were recently invited to present a speech during a Pan African festival in Amsterdam. What was that all about?
Well, that was the African festival that took place in The Hague. It is an annual event that takes place in The Hague and celebrates African culture, arts and music. I was honoured with an invitation from the main organizer to present a speech which I did and it was well received by the delegates. It was good for AFWA because I did meet a lot of potential sponsors there and will be holding follow-up meetings with them very soon. The organizer of the festival actually got in touch with me through LinkedIn when he realized I was also organizing another African event in Amsterdam
Q How big is the African community in The Netherlands that you can have so many African themed events organized that targets them?
I guess there are big enough. I can’t give you a previous figure on numbers because I don’t have those statistics . For now, there are not many African themed events happening in The Nethelands which is why we are coming up with all this. However, there are many African communities in Holland and people will also be coming from different countries for the event.
Q I checked your facebook page and even saw white models wearing some of your designs since you are also a designer.
That should not be strange. White folks also like dressing like Africans, they love our designs so I also design for them. I will design for anybody who likes wearing anything African. A lot of white folks like African clothing. I have designed for many European clients.
Q Why do you think African fashion is so popular in Europe?
A lot of people in Europe believe anything African is exotic. Fashion is usually a thing a lot of people care about and if that fashion is coming from a far-away land, I guess a lot of people will like it. That is why I think African designs are so fashionable in Europe and across the world.
Q Who exactly are ytou expecting will be attending your event?
I expect everybody to tun up. That will be nice if everybody did but to be specific, I expect everybody who loves African fashion to attend, whether they are in The Netherlands or in other countries. Anybody who is interested in African art, culture and design should be there
Q What about sponsors?
Well, we already have some but we still need many more. We are hoping to make this a big and massive event so will welcome big companies and businesses to invest in the event. It is one of its kind in Holland. We will accept any kind of sponsorship, in cash or kind
Q How does a potential sponsor contact you?
They can go to our website www.africafashionweekamsterdam.org where they will get a sponsorship letter. The website does have all the necessary information. They could also contact me directly. We also need some volunteers. They too can go to the website and fill the necessary form or contact me directly