Addis’s Fashion Show
It is New Year’s Eve, which makes it a good time to observe fashion reflected in traditional clothing styles. Amidst the exciting bustle of preparation for Enkutatash, the streets in Addis confirm over the weekend that traditional outfits remain the frequent choice for holiday attire. The fashion show held at Alliance éthio-française on Friday night reflected that.A young fashion designer Abraham Tekle has displayed a unique collection of outfits for women and men reflecting traditional Ethiopian costumes and fabrics. Models walked the room accompanied by music such as Mikiyas Chernet’s “Meshitu Demeke” and Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”. As models walked down the runway, audience members cheered at their favorites.The collection includes dresses, jodhpur-like trousers, shirts and skirts, toga-like garments, ranging from 300 birr to 3,000 birr.
“This is a composition of different looks for different hours of the day,” the 30-year-old Abraham said in an interview with Addis Journal. “I am using a lot of local materials and making it in a modern and fashionable way.”
The style can be described as a mix between smart and elegant outfits for work, school and leisurely wear. Finely woven cotton dresses and decorated wraps are given a tasteful style with flattering cuts.
“I’ve been one of the most fortunate people,” Abraham said, “that I’ve a career for which I have a passion.”
He nurtured that passion at a young age. Growing in Addis Ababa’s Mercato area, he learned his trade from the cloth artisans working in the area. He learned to weave and dye by looking and experimenting and in his teenage years, he joined the privately owned Zewditu Taylor School where he studied sewing, cloth dying, quilt making, and painting.
Through the years, the young man has worked his way up and achieved a tremendous lot.He is now one of the entrepreneurs actively engaged in making innovative products and setting his personal mark.Many of the products he has introduced have become so successful. He has developed a loyal client base that includes designing the costumes for the Ethiopian National Theatre. His works were displayed at various fashion galas held in Global Hotel, Imperial Hotel, the Exhibition Center and the Alliance Ethio-Franicase.
Talking about the latest show, Abraham said he was pleased that many people turned up and gave him encouragement. “I feel privileged that people do appreciate what I do,” he said.
Among his showcase were collection of school uniforms, which were praised by the audiences. As schools re-open for the New Year and students head to school with fresh paper and sharp pencils, the designer wants to make sure that they are also comfortable with what they are wearing. “Uniforms are not meant to be boring and uncomfortable. But I see that teen dress is fairly conservative. I want to create uniforms that are less crispy, rather more stylish air and make them comfortable,” he says. The effect was repetitive but charming. The show would have had more variety if these outerwear pieces had been scattered throughout, rather than shown in blocks.
Yet it was a striking show, encompassing the urban and country vibe the designer promised, including evening dresses, made from dye ‘menen’ and ‘tibeb’
Easy clothes made using shape of a cross on the lower front as a theme and threads and color giving the tailoring was a smart effect.
The designer showed a hint of common country-style in this dress,
with aollection taking a fresh look at the way Ethiopians dress in everyday life.Loose-fitting, and trousers evoked Ethiopia’s ethnic groups scattered across the country.
The designer added a touch of red pattern for the dress he made for the Valentine Day, loaded with flowers.This might not not be a timely clothing but there were actual inspiration in the other choices.
While many of these garments are beautifully made, they remain hard to sell outside of the country. Abraham says Ethiopia has a rich tradition of producing quality woven cotton but he says there has not been much effort done to transform the trade into a big, lucrative international market. “Most things are done in time-consuming and conventional manner. Working on simple hand –looms and not sophisticated materials, five or six people have to involve in the production of a single garment,” he says. “This has made the production expensive and time taking,” he explains. He thinks that it would be good if more business people and even government embarks upon the task of transforming the weaving tradition into a big, viable industry “We also need people who could promote products in the international scene” he says.
Photograph by Amanuel, Tempo Photo studio