THE FIRST ANNUAL Taste of Africa Fashion Show at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on May 19, 2012 will feature Spring collections from Congolese fashion designers, as well as African art and food. The annual event will empower African girls by sponsoring educational programs that teach sewing skills to girls in Africa. This year, the event will benefit The Georges Malaika Foundation’s School for Girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Created by Joelle Allen, fashion designer for iJo Fashions and wife of NFL veteran Ian Allen, The Taste of Africa Fashion Show will provide a way for attendees to contribute to educating girls in Africa while getting a taste of African culture: fashion, food and art.
Spring collections by Congolese designers Joelle Allen, Sandra Van-Keer and Marie-France Mumba will be modeled by famous faces including Noella Coursaris Musunka, founder of The Georges Malaika Foundation. Guest speakers will provide insight into the crisis in the Congo.
Born and raised in the Congo, going to design school in the U.K. and settling in the United States, Allen was struck by how most Congolese women have less opportunities than American women because of inadequate access to education and trade skills. “It is a different reality for women in Africa than in the U.S.,” explains Allen. “A lot of women marry young and are fully dependent on their husbands. If a husband is injured, dies or no longer want to be with his wife, women are often left to fend for themselves with very little education. The good thing about a technical education is that it can be learned fairly quickly and at a young age.”
Allen watched her mother and grandfather expertly create clothing as tailors, paying particular attention to detail and fit, and was inspired to pursue a degree in Fashion design for herself. Allen would like to teach more girls sewing skills to impart a trade that would help them earn money to support their families and give them the flexibility to care for children at the same time.
“A seamstress has a different role in many African countries than in the U.S.,” describes Allen. “Rather than buying clothes off the rack in chain stores, even poor and middle class Africans go to a seamstress for custom clothes. High quality tailoring is more widely available than in the U.S.”
The cost for the event is $100, but currently sold for $85 (15% discount) at the TOA website (www.toafashionshow.com ). It is expected to bring a positive exposure for African businesses in the United States. Multiple sponsorship level oportunities are available for company/organization looking to showcase their brands/products during this wonderful event.