25 August 2014

carnival duo

E V E N T || Notting Hill Carnival, 2014

After my first ever morning run [thanks to Asad's encouragement], we decided to take our bank holiday sunday easy and head over to West London in the late afternoon to bask in this year's Carnivaaal. I love Carnival - this is part III on the blogster [part I & part II, if you're interested] - and every time I go I have a completely different experience. This year, we just wanted it to be chilled. Going with a big group of friends is so much fun but it can also be stressful keeping track of each other. So Asad and I decided to just duo it and see where the afternoon took us.

The Outfit || 

skirt [Topshop], top [H&M], scarf [WOMAD festival], coat [Jane Norman] & yes that is my favourite bumbag! 

The Vibe ||

If you're not ready to get up close and personal, don't attempt Carnival. Notting Hill Carnival attracts more and more people every year, this year it's predicted that one million will be descending onto West London to celebrate, dance, eat and party. This means the best sound systems and best food stalls will be a cosy and extremely buzzy affair. Carnival is a great place to have a good time and feel part of the diverse London community - it's the people, the sounds and the smells of delicious Caribbean cuisine which make the vibe so special.

The Food ||

Every year, [aside from WOMAD festival] Carnival means I get my annual fix of delicious homemade jerk chicken. A big surprise to myself, my nose decided to lead me elsewhere this year. As soon as I smelt curried goat and saw fellow Carnivalers really enjoying their just-purchased plates, I was sold. I asked the lovely servers what they recommended and ended up with the tastiest curried chicken with sides [rice n peas and salad]. The chicken was super moist, packed full of flavour and spice, and made for a great little early dinner. I need to learn how to make this! Asad went for the classic [and more modest sized] jerk chicken, plantain and dumpling from Poppa Shaw's stall. Jerk chicken is bbq'ed everywhere at Carnival and it smells so good it would be rude not to have a little bit.

The Attractions ||

Aside from the vibe and the food [the most important, obviously] there are lots of other fun parts of Carnival to look out for. [1] The various types of homemade punches being made is impressive - these were a really cute trio but there were so many to choose from. [2] The dancing is great, particularly if you follow the floats as everyone is just having a good time and clearly enjoying themselves. [3] The costumes are incredible - this year we didn't really get to see much of the parade but wherever you go you will no doubt see some of the most vibrant and fun Carnival costumes. I am always super impressed by the detail and creativity - there is a lot of hard work behind the parades to admire.

A pretty chilled afternoon at Carnival this year. I really enjoyed it - it's always a fun way to see in the "end of summer" as one big, colourful London community. The food is great, the grooves are pumping and everyone is just happy. Did you go to Carnival this year? What was your favourite part?

Happy long weekend!


Oh, and to top it off - my Rainbow Nation buddies and I are now part of a beautiful book about the history of Notting Hill Carnival released just this month. Written by Ishmahil Blagrove Jr & Margaret Busby, Carnival: A Photographic and Testimonial History of the Notting Hill Carnival has some incredible photographs and stories right from its origins in the 1950s / 60s to present day. Read more about it here. Still speechless and incredibly honoured to be a [small] part of such a great project.

photos || me & [of me] Asad

13 August 2014

creative africa

E V E N T || Africa Fashion Week London, 2014

You are all in for a visual treat [aka a colourful catwalk photodump]. Over the weekend, I decided to head down to Africa Fashion Week London [AFWL] with +Diane. When I first started this blog, this was one of the first events I covered [amateur throwback link here if you're intrigued]. 2014 marked the event's fourth year and I was keen to see how and if it had evolved.

Supporting African arts and culture has always been close to me. I feel like the continent is still an undiscovered melting pot of creativity and new talent. I've noticed that African print and style has slowly started to make its way into mainstream fashion - from designer handbags by Sass & Bide [which I covered here] to the ever growing and more affordable ASOS Africa collection, the African touch is starting to come into the spotlight. I also completely missed this as it was during WOMAD weekend [and was gutted] but this year saw a new event in London town: African Street Style Festival, a free street festival in Shoreditch in celebration of the influence of African creativity featuring dance classes, photo sessions, catwalks, art installations, music and even a salon! An event I definitely won't be missing next year [cross-fingers it stays on the London summer calendar].

the stalls ||

The vibe of AFWL was completely different to my first experience two years ago. First off, it's now held in Olympia rather than Spitalfields market, which for me made it feel less Africa - what I mean by this is Spitalfields allowed the atmosphere to be a bit more hustle and bustle with a close community feel. However, as events expand the venues have to be able to accommodate. On entering the exhibition hall in Olympia, my first impression was it was a lot more professional - what I mean by this is although the number of stalls may have been exactly the same [I couldn't tell!] it seemed more organised and the space was much more cleanly defined. Press was also much more prominent which gave the event a more glossy sheen. This could all just be me and what my imagination wants to run with of course, but it's amazing how a venue change can completely impact my perception.

There seemed to be more stores, with a wider variety of goods on sale - a good example being the very first stall we stopped at was Brun et Noir, a new hosiery company dreamt up by Buki Adegbuyi who saw a gap in the market for hosiery that catered to 'women of colour'. Her products aim to be inclusive of the Asian, African, Caribbean and mixed race woman; Diane was sold and immediately bought two pairs. The majority of stalls stocked the classics: African print clothes, jewellery and innovative accessories - I tried something I can only describe as a belt-skirt which was cute. There were some familiar faces [Alabi Couture] but also some new ones - my favourites were the lovely Anais of Anaisarts who showed me how to tie my pretty new headband properly, Liberty of Quincy's Collection and Bola of Tóté London who also owns Sam Snow Vintage in North London.

the catwalk ||

Naturally, the main event was the catwalk show. We were spoilt with a variety of different designers - influences reflected anything from the traditional prints and cloths to designs with a Western and/or Asian twist. Some kept it quite classic while others had fun with models dancing down the runway. It was a great representation of the diverse taste and style across the African continent, but also highlighted how Western and Asian fashion have already started having an influence of the continent's style.

The designers that stole the show for me were: RAAAH, Jazzeffect Designs & Adama Paris
The one that stood out because it pleasantly surprised me was: Porjai Thai Printer 


Sylvia Owori || bright, bold and simple colour palette on classic cuts
[The fitted crop-top and shorts look gives off so much attitude, I love]

Fyyfe || classic cuts, classy with a hint of fire / red
[far left, three down is a great combination - office day to night look?]

Vaishali Morjaria Creations || evening gowns bringing indian golds with African print
[Indian-African princess party anyone?]

Koko Fashion || clean whites with a touch of vibrant African print
[less in-your-face African print makes for a great everyday look]

RAAAH || bold shapes and a fierce attitude married perfectly with fun colours
[I could genuinely replace my wardrobe with this whole collection and be really happy]

Zarita Kouture || evening wear with a touch of bright prints
[sheer black trouser-top combination with a hint of sparkly blue is cute]

Jazzeffect Designs || a very colourful party of brights, shapes and glitter
[this whole collection just screams fun and happy bubbles to me, sparkle sparkle!]

Modella B || floaty evening wear in romantic cuts and colours
[I want the red rose sheer cape so bad!]

Simply Glamorous Fashion || sparkletastic evening gowns mixed with classic African prints and styles
[I was in love with the feather skirt and print combination]

Adama Paris || elegant colour-blocking with a powerful feminine attitude
[all the models looked like African Queens and I need to own the yellow ensemble]

Porjai Thai Printer || on-trend styles balancing the vibrancy of African print and colour with glitz
[the dresses to dance around in and by far the best of the men's ranges]

Ambiance Couture || fun and colourful evening wear, classics with a twist
[the unique cocktail or party dress]

TIR Fashion House || the African go-to ball gowns with attitude
[I need a ball to go to so I can wear the grey/orange in the bottom left]

Were you at Africa Fashion Week this year? Who was your favourite designer?