The Kente and Kitenge fashion show, featuring a collective of premier high-fashion designers from the Republic of Ghana, was more than a fashion show for the event’s sponsor, Henry Reaves, founder of the Reaves Law Firm, LLC.
The fashion-plus event on Saturday (May 7) at Hilton Memphis East was presented by Memphis in May International Festival and produced by Nana Tamakloe, the CEO and creator of Accra Fashion Week and FashionGhana.com.
It showcased an array of authentic fabrics, fashion and fun while celebrating the culture and history of Ghana, the west Africa country honored this year Memphis in May celebration.
Biobele Derick Bobmanuel of Broots Fashion, Abigail Ewuradjoa Boison of Style by Madbrien, and Naa Kwarley Sikanartey from Red Cotton Boutique modeled contemporary Ghanaian fashions with a modern flair that left everyone on the edge of their seats wondering what is next behind the curtain.
For Reaves, the Kente and Kitenge fashion show reflected a deep connection he made during an enlightening two-week experience in Ghana this past November.
“I’m a part of an organization called ADDI or African Diaspora Development Institute, where their mission is to build a city of return named “Wakanda One” outside of Cape Coast, Africa,” he says. “Not only that, the organization’s goal also is to reconnect all Africans from the diaspora whether they’re from America or Brazil. Every place where they were taken to be slaves is where trying to reconnect. … It was my first time in Ghana, and it meant so much to me.”
Before Reaves returned to the states, he collected a series of paintings and art from Africa to be framed. Later, while visiting a local shop in Midtown, he noticed a flyer from Memphis in May honoring the country he had instantly fallen in love with.
Reaves, at that moment, envisioned an opportunity for his team to be part of, and an opportunity, for Memphians to see Ghana in a familiar sector, fashion and art.
“The Bluff City is connected to Ghana in so many ways such as W.E.B DuBois,” Reaves said. “The welcoming love from the people truly made me feel that I was home. So, I wanted to bring the love and culture that I received back to Memphis.
The jaw-dropping pieces displayed throughout the event catered to the everyday fashionista.
From day to night looks, the evening gowns blew the crowd away. Broots Fashion stepped it up a notch, displaying evening wear that consisted of different pieces from traditional African fabrics meshed to make one piece.
“I never thought Ghanaian fashion would go this far,” said Tamakloe of Accra Fashion Week and FashionGhana.com. “In just three short years we gained over three million followers. That is how I know what we’re doing is important to the culture.”
The two-hour experience concluded with live entertainment from Courtney Little and a word from Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.
“We are really blessed with tremendous diversity, including an African-American community and African Diaspora,” said Harris.
“I’m truly happy that we’re celebrating countries such as Ghana so that we can see the connections between the history and culture of creativity.”
(To learn more about “Kente and Kentinge,” visit www.memphisinmay.org.)