The African Students Association of Concordia’s Uzuri: the African Fashion Show last Friday served up fierce fashions, but more importantly, it also displayed a lot of community spirit. According to Aurelie Tzeuton, the president of ASAC, about 200 people packed into the D.B. Clarke auditorium for two hours of African clothing, song, dance and poetry. “That was the biggest surprise,” said Tzeuton. “The first week, we sold 100 tickets.”
Uzuri, which means beauty in Swahili, was much more than just showing off what African designers can do; a full hour of performances turned it into a variety show. “We decided we’d have just a fashion show,” explained Tzeuton. “As time went by, we got the chance to meet a lot of artists.” The lineup ranged from feminist beat poet Sunshine to a performance from the Bzerk Squad, Canada’s first dance crew dedicated to the aggressive freestyle krump.
Hosts Ã‰mile Kinuma and Jonathan Deslouches set the tone for the evenings mix of tradition and modernity by teasing each other about their own outfits. “Where are you headed with your nightgown?” asked Deslouches, when Kinuma appeared onstage in traditional African garb. “These new Africans these days, I don’t understand them,” sighed Kinuma, referring to Deslouches’ dapper fedora and suspenders. ASAC also gave its hosts, artists and models the chance to be spontaneous. “The performers, a lot of them got to improvise according to how the crowd responded,” stated Tzeuton.
The fashion show itself featured casual, semi-formal and formal wear by Ghanaian designer Doris Dey and Nairobi’s Jane Nyoike. As the models walked down the stage in pairs, they interacted with each other, dancing and responding to the crowd’s cheers. The show also featured a final surprise dance.
Having lived in Paris, Tzeuton said that Montreal’s fashion industry is a lot more accepting of African designers. “We also have high fashion,” she stated, explaining that Uzuri showcased more traditional clothing. Overall, the event was a great success for ASAC’s brand-new executive committee. “It was a great adventure” said Tzeuton. “A lot of lessons learned, a lot of surprises. I didn’t lose my mind!”