The Caribbean region was well-represented at the 9th edition of Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) with Trinbagonian fashion brand, Diane Carlton Style. The annual fashion event, which took place at the historic Freemasons’ Hall in August, is Europe’s largest in promoting and nurturing African and African-inspired design talent.
This year’s affair saw throngs of style influencers, public officials and some of the most popular designers from the African diaspora community in attendance to mix, mingle and celebrate the beauty and vibrancy of Afrocentric contributions to the global fashion scene.
Humbled by the opportunity to showcase for the first time ever in London, Stacy Weekes-Benjamin, Creative Director at Diane Carlton said that it was an honour to represent the Caribbean on such a well-respected fashion platform. Ironically, the invitation for AFWL came shortly after she was rejected by organizers of an Emancipation Day fashion show in Trinidad, who felt as if her designs were not “African” enough.
Motivated by one door closing, Weekes-Benjamin explained, “This was a moment for me to stay true to my creative point of view, but to also celebrate the global African connection that has certainly influenced so many types of expression both in and outside of our culture.” She made the decision to apply to the AFWL showcase after strong encouragement from her husband and family and was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was given the nod of approval.
Diane Carlton Style was the only designer from this region to be officially selected to showcase at this year’s AFWL event, and she wanted to use that opportunity to sell Trinidad and Tobago to those in attendance – including HIH Princess Adewmimo Shijuwade of Nigeria.
“Having the opportunity to promote on such an important stage is really a wonderful opportunity. I learned a lot from my debut European runway showcase in Germany last year and I wanted to make sure that I was fully prepared for this event, especially with having such prestigious guests present. I spent lots of time putting together this collection – sketching, selecting fabric, preparing samples, the full works.”
With all eyes set on next year’s roster of activities, Diane Carlton is already gearing up to return to the AFWL franchise in 2020, along with other new opportunities that have formed as a result of her successful showing a few weeks ago.
— Written by Tenille Clarke (@tenilleclarke1 on Instagram/Twitter)
Tenille Clarke is an avid wanderlust, Carnivalist and cultural enthusiast who pens about her ongoing love affair with travel, culture and entertainment through a Caribbean lens. She is the Principal Publicist of Chambers Media Solutions and Managing Director of Industry 360.