The African fashion industry is, today, celebrating the recognition of one of its leading figures, African Fashion International (AFI) Founder and CEO Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, who has received the Fashion 4 Development’s inaugural Franca Sozzani Award at the United Nations in New York.
Dr Moloi-Motsepe was recognised for her “great efforts in promoting African fashion designers through African Fashion International, as well as supporting the empowerment of disadvantaged women.” She is the first-ever recipient of the award, which commemorates the late Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, who had a passionate commitment to fashion’s role as an engine of transformation and economic development as well as creativity. Dr Moloi-Motsepe was nominated for the award by Franca Sozzani’s son, the Emmy Award-nominated film director Francesco Carrozzini, and by Norway’s HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit on behalf of Fashion 4 Development.
The award was presented to Dr Moloi-Motsepe by Fashion 4 Development President and Founder Evie Evangelou and fashion designer Livia Firth. The presentation took place Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at a high-level luncheon hosted by Fashion 4 Development during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. Guests included global first ladies, diplomats, fashion VIPs, and other key international influencers.
Fashion 4 Development supports programmes in 20 countries, using fashion and the textile industry to advance economic and social development, preserve culture and empower women in order to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. To complement the luncheon’s runway show with fabulous creations from Elie Saab, African Fashion International ran a parallel event showcasing Africa’s exceptional fashion and design talent.
Ten African designers were selected to showcase based on their strong creative and sustainable business track records. They were: South Africa’s David Tlale, Klûk CGDT, Thula Sindi, Marianne Fassler of Leopard Frock, MaXhosa by Laduma, Stefania Morland, Gavin Rajah, Tuelo Nguyuza of TN Collectiv, together with Nigeria’s Ituen Basi, and Mille Collines from Rwanda.
“The African fashion world applauds Fashion 4 Development’s inspired nomination of Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe as inaugural recipient of this new award,” says distinguished South African fashion designer Marianne Fassler. “She has become the powerhouse of African fashion thanks to her directional creative leadership and vision, driving social, cultural and economic development. She recognises the value of celebrating our African history and heritage, while also understanding that fashion must make its own future through development programmes, including her own company’s AFI Fastrack™ and AFI NextGen™.”
African Fashion International is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Through its brands, including the acclaimed AFI Fashion Week platforms, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has pioneered African luxury fashion to build a critical mass of globally recognised African design talent.
“I am deeply honoured to receive the inaugural Franca Sozzani Award,” she says. “I am moved by this recognition of our efforts in Africa to showcase all our continent has to offer – its unique style, authenticity and its abundant future.
“There has been much discussion of cultural appropriation recently but I look across the city to the Museum of Modern Art where a new exhibition respecting the potential of global creative co-operations will open at the beginning of October. It features our own MaXhosa by Laduma as part of a bold re-examination of fashion and tradition that fills my heart with joy and hope for the future of creative fashion.
“It was extraordinary, while receiving the award, to feel as spiritually supported as ever by all my colleagues, clients, designers and fashion creatives across Africa,” Dr Moloi-Motsepe says.
“I know that I share this award with all of them because none of us could do this alone. In my culture, we say ‘If you want to go fast you walk alone, but if you want to go far, you walk with others.’
“In the African fashion business, we know that means we must join forces to take our continent’s fashion industry forward so that it becomes economically and creatively viable and sustainable. We are all honoured today that this award marks another step in African fashion’s journey to the full global recognition it richly deserves.”