22 Oct Event Recap: SUPAFRIK U.S. Debut
by ATFDC Contributor Susan Stipanovich
On Thursday evening, Supafrik made its highly-anticipated United States debut at Gallery O on H Street. The pop-up shop and gallery is curated around the theme of “Urban Contemporary Africana” and showcases artwork and design that re-contextualize African aesthetics and traditions within a modern framework. Supafrik is the brainchild of Toronto fashion designer Chinedu Ukabam of the clothing label Chinedesign, who was interviewed exclusively before the gallery’s opening in the District by All Things Fashion DC. On the night of, Chinedu hurried around the gallery putting up labels and acting as MC for the evening; “I’m most excited about the fashion show for my new line Marrakesh- I haven’t shown it anywhere else in the world. I was still sewing pieces just before I left Toronto two days ago!” he beamed as he made a few last minute preparations.
Even before Supafrik’s opening in the United States, it received considerable critical acclaim. Elle Magazine listed Supafrik on their buzz list, and NOW Magazine‘s Andrew Sardone listed Supafrik as one of the “can’t miss debuts” featured in his style notes/store of the week column. With so much press, one would think that the gallery and pop-up store faced overwhelming pressure to impress, however Ukabam’s Supafrik seamlessly opened to thrilled guests on Thursday night. The evening’s events included a fashion show featuring the new MRKSH collection and a performance of new material by Grammy nominated singer/songwriter and D.C. native Wayna, who wowed the crowd with her gorgeous voice and improvisations about the gallery pieces. The crowd watched wide-eyed as looks came down the runway, taking photos and pointing out their favorite pieces. The collection was extremely well received by the crowd, who admired its metallic pieces and flowy frocks.
As if the events weren’t enough to entertain guests, Supafrik offered up Chinedesign’s new Marrakesh collection (which is getting its exclusive world premier in the District), Toronto-based ethical designer brand Ann & Arrayata which refashions raffia into beautifully constructed chic bags and purses whose proceeds go towards charity work in Rwanda, and UK based clothing label Chichia London which is ethically manufactured in Tanzania using traditional kanga textiles.
Supafrik has taken over Gallery O until October 21st, with a music and food event on Friday evening, new merchandise displayed on Saturday, and an “All Good Things Must Come To An End” sale on Sunday with hot drinks and pastries. For the whole schedule, see Supafrik’s blog which gives more information about the gallery, the merchandise, and story; it is certainly worth a visit during it’s short time in the District.
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All photos by Alexander Kafka for All Things Fashion DC
Susan Stipanovich is a stylist and writer who lives and works in Washington D.C. She researches counter terrorism methods and international security sector reform in Africa and the Middle East by day as a Department of Defense associate and spends her free time curating a fashionable lifestyle through her blog Hepburn Loves Givenchy.