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African Fashion Week returns to Boston

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
African Fashion Week returns to Boston
Model Al Copeland wearing The House of Nahdra. PHOTO: BASH PICS

For the first time since 2016, African Fashion Week will bring vibrant prints and innovative silhouettes to the Boston runway. This three-day festival running June 2–4 presents African diaspora fashion designers and culture, an art gallery, cultural performances, panel discussions and an African marketplace, all at The Guild Works in Dorchester.

Designer Nahdra Ra Kiros founded African Fashion Week in 2016 to address a hole in local fashion. “One of the things that I felt needed more nourishment was the representation of Africa, African culture, on the runway in the fashion season in Boston,” says Ra Kiros. “We have a lot of people from a lot of places and such a beautiful artistic scene here.”

Farah Jeune models a design by The House of Nahdra. PHOTO: XON PHOTOGRAPHY

The 2016 event was extremely popular, garnering feedback from designers in New York and Senegal, but life obligations and later the pandemic postponed another show. This year’s African Fashion Week will be the second official African Fashion Week here in Boston. Tickets can be purchased for the whole weekend or for individual days. Highlights include a Q&A panel about mental wellness in the African diaspora, the fashion show, and a gala and awards ceremony, but many other events are on the schedule.

The fashion show will feature local designers that are representative of the African diaspora.

R. K. Houston of New Urban Designs, a lifelong creative, retired from his day job two years ago and has been designing pieces inspired by African textiles. Jahzara Afrique of Jahzara Fashion House creates made-to-measure garments and accessories like head wraps, jewelry and handbags, often using recycled materials. Both designers will be featured during African Fashion Week, and Ra Kiros will display her Afro-futuristic designs.

Sophia Adolphe on the catwalk wearing The House of Nahdra. PHOTO: BASH PICS

Houston says, “This is not just serving the people who create this stuff. We’re connecting with others, connecting with the community, and getting people to embrace the creativity that exists in our communities that often goes unseen because of whatever the issues are around society.”

Although fashion is at the core of this festival, other art forms and community members will be featured and honored as well. During the African Fashion Week Gala on Sunday, June 4, awards will be presented to local visual artists such as Ekua Holmes, Stephen Hamilton and Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs and also to impactful community members like educator and high school basketball coach John Rice.

There’s a lot to take away from the action-packed African Fashion Week itinerary, but above all, Ra Kiros says, “I hope that people would remember the essence of love, and our divinity together and how we can create greatness in all we do.”

African Fashion Week, arts, fashion