Five local designers hit international fashion stage


Five Malawian designers are set to showcase their work at the Eco Fashion Week (EFW) in Canada on Saturday.

The five—Mphatso Chisale, Bruce Matewere, Faida Banda, Nomonde Sambakunsi and Viviette Designs—will be part of scores of designers from across the globe showcasing at the EFWwhich has been organised by the African Fashion and Arts Movement (Afam) which is passionate about African fashion and Arts movement.

Models donning Faida Banda’s designs on the runway last year in Australia

According to the event’s website, tickets for the fashion show are sold out.

The five were identified by Patti DeSante, an expat who has been in and out of Malawi for the past three years.

Impressed with Malawi arts talent, DeSante, embarked on a project to sell Malawi to the world through fashion and Hip Hop.

The first three are mentored by Lily Alfonso. The designers were chosen because they are talented designers who work with Chitenje in a contemporary way that offers them opportunities on the international market. “Secondly, because they are all gender equity advocates who see fashion as a tool supporting themselves, women’s rights and promote Malawi. They are all very positive people, well-educated, humble, generous and interested in serving community and promoting Malawi,” said DeSante in an interview.

She said Chisale, Matewere were identified through Lilly Alfonso, arguably Malawi’s leading fashion designer who mentors them.

“I met Lilly in 2016 and once I was given an opportunity to showcase Malawian designers, she recommended them. I had an opportunity to see Viviette Designs when I returned to Malawi in 2017 at a fashion show in Lilongwe in June. Again, I was very impressed by both her work and her attitude towards life.

“I had met Nomonde the year before so I already was really impressed with both her fashion expertise but also who she was as a person supporting girls, among others,” she explained.

This is not the first time DeSante has used her resources to take Malawian designs to the international stage.

“In November last year, I travelled to Perth, Australia with 21 designs from these five fashion designers to promote their work, to share Malawian music, to highlight the beauty of Malawi,” said De Sante.

She said during the Canada show she will feature music from Lady Pace’s album Mkazi Moto on the runway.

“In terms of funding, I personally resource most of what I do over the last 20 years. EFW offered me a free platform and travel to promote these designers and Malawi. In exchange, I write articles for EFW and help them promote their platform and whatever they need,” she said.

Sambakunsi hailed the opportunity, saying it presents a platform to sell Malawi fashion to the world.

“I am so excited that once again my designs and those of other creators will be showcased on an international stage and at a soldout show. I am grateful to DeSante as she managed to negotiate her way in with her connections and this is a continuation of what started last year. I have sent six designs from different collections,” she said in a separate interview.

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