- DURO OLOWU (NIGERIA)
You can’t talk fashion designing in Africa without mentioning the name “Duro Olowu”. The Nigerian-born, lawyer turned fashion designer known by many as the Father of everything ‘Prints’, Duro Olowu is well known for his use of mixed vintage prints, bright colors and well polished cuts. His sharp cuts and prints, give his designs that unique glam that has attracted style icon, apparently his style and creativity attracted some very powerful women in the society such as the immediate former First Lady of the United States of America ,Michelle Obama. Based in London, this African fashion power house won the “Designer of the year” award in 2005 from the prestigious Britain Fashion Awards.
2. KORTO MOMOLU (LIBERIA)
Runner up of the prestigious Project Runway show. Korto a Liberian national who moved to Canada due to the civil war in 1990,where she immediately enrolled in a fashion design school. She later relocated to the USA and continued her fashion design training at the Parson school of design. Her vibrant and colorful Spring 2009 collection during New York Fashion Week; made her a top 5 designers to watch. After Project Runway show, Korto has been featured in lots of magazine like Essence magazine, LA Times, Ladybrille.com, InStyle.com among others. Amongst her teeming fans are the duo of Tyson Beckford and Lola Ogunnaike (formally with CNN).
3. LISA FOLAWIYO (NIGERIA)
Her creative ability to revolutionize Ankara fabric into colorful prints and textures embellished with Swarovski crystals, results in vibrant and fun design. A graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nnsukka, and a self made designer, the creative mind of “Jewel by Lisa” her natural flare for fashion and unique sense of style has led her to great heights. She has showcased internationally in the New York fashion week 2010, Paris Fashion week 2010 etc. She has been reviewed internationally by Media houses such as Gotham and style.com. Amongst her celebrity fans includes Beyoncé, Kelis, Eve, Tasha Smith.
4. DAVID TLALE (SOUTH AFRICA)
This South African fashion powerhouse is best known for his unique and bold designs, being to the fact that most of his designs ain’t easily predictable, Hence, he has been dubbed as the most creative fashion designer of our time! One of the best things of his designs is that they are easily wearable. He won Mzansi star fashion designer Mzansi Award. After winning the Elle talent competition and awarded the Best new designer of the year 2003, he exhibited his unique designs on international platforms such as, Paris Fashion Week, De Beers Shining light collection, Arise Fashion week and many more.
5. DEOLA SAGOE (NIGERIA)
Winner of “Africa Designs” and the MNET/ Anglo Gold African designs 2000 awards for which she was nominated by Andre Leon Tally, US vogue editor. that give women a unique vision. She is indeed a fashion visionary who has gained international fame for her haute couture pieces. She was appointed as UN Designer for UN World Food Programme: Catwalk the world- Fashion for food which goal is to raise money towards halving the number of hungry people in the world, particularly children, by 2015. Deola has participated in major fashion shows alongside Donna Karen, Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Her designs have been donned by celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Anika Nina Rose;
Her fans include Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith.
6. KOFI ANSAH (GHANA)
He was a Fashion leader in Ghana fashion scene and an innovator in Africa. He was the son of a classical musician and a photographer from Ghana. He is credited with changing the face of Ghana’s fashion and He designed all the costumes for the opening and closing ceremony of the African cup of nation in 2008. His vibrant, creative and edgy collections have helped pushed African Fashion to glorious heights. He has been a major player in the Ghanaian fashion industry being founder and past president of the Federation of African Designers, fabric design for theGhana@50 Golden Jubilee Celebrations. He was one of the designers chosen to sell his artful collections on one of the esteemed e-commerce sites- Yoox.com. He created the Federation of African Designers, of which he has also been president, but sadly Kofi Ansah passed in 2014.
7. LANRE Da SILVA AJAYI (NIGERIA)
In just seven years of launching, her brand has gained strong international presence. Lanre Da Silva Ajayi produces high class sophisticated clothing for the elegant woman. She combines traditional fabrics, optical prints with a touch of different patterns to her designs. Her label has been the favorite of many celebrities, fashion lovers and top media houses. With a consistent ritual of showcasing six collections every year, LDA has showcased both locally and internationally for shows including ARISE, New York Couture Fashion Week and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. She has been featured in various magazines such as Vogue Black, WWD, Essence.com, Reuters UK, Fashion Bomb and Centric/BET.
8. MATAANO (SOMALIA)
Mataano in Somalia means twins, and the Mataano fashion house is owned by the pair Idyl and Ayaan. After escaping the civil war in Somalia, the twin sisters relocated to Washington DC. Ayaan and Idyl embarked upon their career in the fashion industry by creating a multicultural fashion label-Mataano which has gained global recognition form distinguished fashion achievers. Their premier collection debuted in Spring 2009 gained significant buzz throughout the industry. The queen of day-time television, Oprah Winfrey, invited the twins via skype on her show titled “Young Millionaire Moguls”. This attention definitely brought a huge national buzz to their brand and attracted avid attention from the press including, Vogue Italia, Arise Magazine, Essence Magazine, CNN International and numerous magazines and blogs.
9. FOLAKE FOLARIN COKER (NIGERIA)
Folake Coker is the founder of the world famous Tiffany Amber fashion house, at an early age Folake was exposed to different cultures. Born in Lagos, Nigeria and schooled literally all over Europe (Switzerland, Scotland and England), she developed a curiosity for cultures which she later infused into her love for fashion. With a vision to revolutionize the Nigerian Fashion Industry, Folake Folarin-Coker launched her brand- Tiffany Amber in 1998. Despite her law background, her passion for fashion gained a higher control. Her dedication and hard work made her the first African-based designer to be invited to showcase her work two consecutive seasons at the New York Fashion week. Tiffany Amber is no doubt, one of the biggest well known fashion labels in Africa. Her designs are truly a quintessence of a glamorous, affluent African woman. She continues to stay true to her vision by developing a strong fashion philosophy. Fourteen years after launching her brand, it has become a highly esteemed award winning international label. Folake won designer of the year at the 2009 African Fashion International in Johannesburg, Fashion Brand of the year at the ARISE Magazine Fashion Week 2011 for her AW2011 Fearless Luxury Collection. Recently, she was chosen as one of the designers to sell their collections on the famous e-commerce platform- Yoox.com.
10. OZWALD BOATENG (GHANA)
He is on the list of 100 great black Briton. Popularly known as the first black tailor (at age 27) to open a store on Savile Row and former creative director of Givenchy, Ozwald continues to be a force to be reckoned with. His use of vibrant colors and refined fabrics with a twist of contemporary silhouettes offers a unique menswear luxury brand. He has donned celebrities such as Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and Mick Jagger in his well tailored designs. In 2000, he was awarded ‘Top Menswear designer’ at the British Fashion Awards; awarded an OBE in 2006 by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the fashion industry, Lifetime Award at the ARISE Fashion Week Lagos 2012 and many other accolades.
other notable designers not on this list but are blessings to Africa includes; Mai Atafo (Nigeria), Zizi Cardow (Nigeria), Aisha Obuobi (Ghana), Mimi Plange (Ghana), Zeddie Lukoe and Sidney Owino (Kenya), Darryl Jagga (South Africa).