The highly hyped Zimbabwe Fashion Week (ZFW) failed to live up to expectations week, with reports that it ended up getting cancelled at the last show.
Controversial ZFW Founder and Director, Priscilla Chigariro is said to have admitted that she, “needs to go back to the drawing board,” if the showcase is ever to happen again.
On the first night of the four day event, it was evident all was not in order. The show was moved from the National Gallery of Zimbabwe to Harry Margolis Hall in Milton Park on short notice. Priscilla was running around trying to make sure the models knew where they were supposed to walk, stop, pose and turn. Meanwhile a camera crew was frantically trying to set up two lights to ensure enough luminance for video and still pictures. This was five minutes before the event was scheduled to start. There were about ten people waiting in the lobby.
After the show began, with a pathetic audience of about 50 people, there was only one designer presenting that evening, the show didn’t last so long. Despite seeing some lovely work from Chipo Sibotshiwe’s Chipo Bespoke collection a number of people were not impressed. “Is it over already?” beauty industry guru Kiri Davies was heard asking her husband. It was over.
Day two saw the cancellation of an afternoon show to create a bigger evening event showcasing the work of four designers; Yemurai Mpinyuri, Shelter Matsa, Briaton Takundwa and Ashley Nyagumbo. When the evening show began there was a bigger crowd in attendance and this time the show did leave many who attended with smiles on their faces. The four designers presented work that was mostly average. Yemurai’s bold collection was an exception and stood out from the rest. Apparently some buyers from Topics also attended the show. All in all though, this was a much better showing than the night before.
On the third day there was another line up of new threads featuring a special series of small collections by young designers Maria Rukatya, Priscilla Ruzive and high school student Louis Fick. They were backed by their older counterparts Chris Goredema, Yvonne Watadza and Priscilla Chigariro herself. The young designers took part in a competition whose prize was to study at a design school in Johannesburg. The winner was announced the next evening, a thrilled Louis Fick who is studying his International Baccalaureate at St John’s College in Harare.
The Not so Grand Finale
Yes, that next evening. Saturday July 31. It was advertised as the grand finale featuring experienced designer Alice Knuth and Zimbabwe’s most well known fashion creator, Joyce Chimanye. It was also going to be an evening where the best of the week would be showcased.
Just after 1300hrs that day, things began to really fall apart. Firstly Zimbabwe Fashion Week was kicked out of Harry Margolis Hall. Priscilla told the Zimbo Jam that it was due to misunderstandings with the property managers. One of the designers, who declined to be named, said that Priscilla, who had been using her own money to pay for the whole show, had failed to pay for the use of the Hall.
Another blow came when the biggest designer of the week (among those who had not pulled out), Joyce Chimanye pulled out citing serious family problems that she needed to attend to. A close relative of hers, when questioned by The Zimbo Jam, professed ignorance to any family problems.
Finally, after almost giving up a hundred times before, after two days that had tested her resilience to the core, after sleepless weeks or trying to stitch this event together – Priscilla decided to switch off the sewing machine and roll up the catwalk. She sent a message to the models and designers saying that the Grande Finale night would not happen.
There are conflicting reports that explain what happened next but apparently, the other designer for the evening, Alice Knuth decided, after receiving the message that hell no, after working so hard she was going to find a way to make sure her work was showcased.
She called up Charles Houdart, whose Funkalicious gig was meant to be the official after party for Zimbabwe Fashion Week and asked if the models could showcase her work there. He agreed, and so Zimbabwe Fashion Week moved venue again, to the venue for Funkalicious, Hellenics Club in Eastlea.
If you have ever tried to hold a high class fashion show in a venue set up for an evening gig you will understand how difficult it was to pull this off. The lighting was wrong. The seating was wrong. There was no catwalk.
But the models, the designer and the outfits were there so the show, in a heavily diluted version of the previous two evenings, went on.
It was a far cry from the glitzy endeavour that had been expected. But everyone put on a brave face and did what they had to do. Within twenty to thirty minutes it was over, and thus, in that dimly lit hall in Eastlea, the first edition of Zimbabwe Fashion Week came to an unceremonious end.
Several fashion enthuasists were so disappointed, one such follower is Mercy, who said, “I know you (Priscilla) have the passion but look around you and there are more than enough people to help you make your dream come true… poorly organised for sure…..”
Salome said, “I respect the passion and drive you showed Priscilla and think given all that you had to deal with you showed great strength. I however also think that a key problem in what happened is a lack of respect for others. I know this is a rough way to say it but I think to be able to work well with others you need to respect them and their abilities to actually contribute to a beautiful whole.”
A disgruntled designer commented, “Priscilla is a failure, and should not blame professional people for walking out on her in an attempt to preserve their own integrity and respect. she is dishonest, is in the habit of trying to use people and has a serious lack of respect for those around her.”
Another one said, “I know i do not speak for myself when I speak on behalf of the designers and state how highly disgruntled we are. Priscilla must not talk about a next time because we are not interested in any production that involves her. “
Will said,”This event was just a failure. It clearly shows Priscilla Chigariro doesn’t have any of the skills required to run a fashion week and shouldn’t even think about a next one. A stronger team won’t change anything.”
This is not the first time Priscilla has disappointed , last year in November a Times Live reporter in South Africa had this to write, “Last night the Zimbabwe Fashion Week was launched at a media function in Sandton. I seldom drive north from Rosebank – always west. So it was with amazement that I drove around a building site looking for the Fashion TV cafe. I found it for the 7.30pm invitation. But I had to leave before the show began which was late due to technical problems.”