Last weekend for the first time, the Milan Fashion Week calendar boasted an event that highlighted five designers of color in Italy showcased through the “We Are Made in Italy” fashion week initiative. The project was born through the efforts of designers Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan who spearheaded a local intervention for change regarding inclusivity, diversity and racism within the Italian fashion industry.
“We Are Made in Italy” Milan Fashion Week Initiative
The duo partnered with Milan’s Afro Fashion Week founder Michelle Francine Ngonmo who scouted the five names who were then mentored and guided by Jean and Buchanan in preparation for the digital event in collaboration with the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI) which revealed the work of the five designers.
The presentation which was revealed on Sunday by way of a 2-minute video of the designers speaking in reclamation of the “Made In Italy” narrative, offering themselves as living and breathing proof that this traditional phrase, long associated with the local fashion industry is not exclusive to any race. Throughout the video, each designer also showcased a few of their own pieces, introducing the local and international audience to the work and unique aesthetic. Below is an introduction to each one.
Born in Morocco, Karim Daoudi is a young designer who lives in San Mauro Pascoli, working at a footwear company. To broaden his fashion skills, he studied also as a shoe modeling technician. In his creations, he mixes different materials using multiple sewing techniques, balancing elegance and functionality. In 2017 he won the Fashion Young Stylists CNA Federmoda Roma award; he also participated in The One Milano event. In 2019 he took part in the “Fashion Graduate Italia” show.
Joy Ijeoma Meribe
Joy Ijeoma Meribe was born in Nigeria. After graduating in Foreign Languages and Literatures, in 2003, she moved to Italy and specialized in cultural/linguistic mediation. After obtaining a Master’s degree in International Business Studies in Reggio Emilia, she attended a fashion school connected to the Istituto di Moda Burgo in Modena and Bologna. In 2017 she launched her brand Modaf Designs, which she defines as “Afropolitan Made in Italy.”
Originally from Burundi, Fabiola Manirakiza moved to Italy as a young girl with her family. Trained as a doctor, she decided to pursue fashion studies in Italy and abroad. She started creating small collections for herself and for her friends; Italian culture and art have a strong influence on her design. The feedback she received was so positive that in 2016 she launched her Frida Kiza brand.
Pape Macodou Fall aka Mokodu
Pape Macodou Fall, alias Mokodu is a Senegalese artist and fashion designer based in Rome. Born into a family of diplomats, he made his debut at a very young age as a cartoonist. He cultivates a passion for figurative painting and portraiture by focusing on the iconic figures of the African Renaissance, and his works have been exhibited in various countries: at the Art Fair Paris, at the Biennale of Contemporary Art and Culture in Rome, and at the Dak’art Biennale in Dakar. In 2017, a meeting with the founder of the Afro Fashion Association founder Michelle Ngonmo gave him an opportunity to enter the world of fashion; the following year Mokodu launched its first Jardin de l’amour collection.
Claudia Gisèle Ntsama
Born in Cameroon, Claudia Gisèle Ntsama studied fashion in her homeland and moved to Italy to attend the Fashion Design course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna; after the three-year degree, through the Erasmus program, she attended the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg for textile design. Her style is inspired by the world of contemporary art and Asian fashion.
We Are Made in Italy Imagery by Jon Bronxl
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