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Behind the scenes at the Kampala Fashion Week

SHOWCASING DESIGN: Fashion weeks in top cities around the world are a big deal and there is a certain level of panic that comes with the event. But, is it the same at the Kampala Fashion Week. Esther Oluka looks at what it takes to pull off one of the biggest fashion events in Kampala.
Fashion lovers brace yourselves. Mark your calendars. The second annual Kampala Fashion Week (KFW) is back, and all roads will lead to Acacia Mall, Roof top, next Thursday as several designers, including Gloria Wavamunno, the brain child behind KFW will be showcasing their latest designs.
Founded in 2010, under the Umbrella of the Ugandan Fashion Council (UFC), KFW was created to support and strengthen the country’s fashion industry through motivating, inspiring and creating artistry.
To date, many fashion critics side with the view that it is one of the biggest and professionally-organised fashion shows to ever grace this country. Last year’s show was proof enough. The organisers were, for instance highly applauded for keeping time as the show was done in less than two hours. The team stuck to a fashion theme where after the models finished showcasing outfits of one particular designer, they would immediately go back stage, change into another designer’s outfits and then hit the runway again.
This is unlike many of other local fashion shows that tend to drag on. But also, KFW earned bonus points as the LDJ productions, an event management and production company from New York, gave them technical support, especially with the lighting and stage design.
But what does it take to pull off such a show?



The preparations
As much as it is a one-day event, the groundwork starts months prior to the show. For example, in December last year, the KFW team had already posted on their Facebook page a call out to interested designers to send in their portfolios. Then, around July, the team kicked off with different seminars where experienced and successful designers, photographers, make-up artistes gave lectures on their respective fields.
The second workshop which took place in August had Stacy Aamito, Africa’s Next Top Model as the guest speaker. Aamito talked about different aspects in the modelling industry, including the similarities and differences she has encountered here and on the international scene. One of the questions she responded to then was on racism. Her reply was, “… I have not been affected by racism. If you understand the people you’re working with, it becomes very easy.” Aamito, who was the face of last year’s KFW, is signed to New York-based DNA model management and has had the opportunity to also walk for many renowned international designers including Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta, Paul smith, among others.
On what her experience was like walking for KFW and now for international fashion shows, Patricia Akello, 22, a Ugandan model signed to Fusion Model Managementin South Africa after being scouted last year at KFW, responded in a Facebook message, “I would not compare, reason being it was the first of its kind in Uganda and these people have been doing shows for ages.”

Africa’s Top Model Stacy Aamito who was the face of last year’s Kampala Fashion Week.

Africa’s Top Model Stacy Aamito who was the face of last year’s Kampala Fashion Week.

The selection criteria
Just like any other fashion show, models are selected through a casting. Interested models may be asked to send in their portfolios, bearing their professional photographs as well as measurements; height, waist, body weight, bust, hips. But there are instances where the models are requested to go for the open call castings. Here, they meet up with the casting directors who may take their basic measurements and also ask them to catwalk.
This year, a two-day call casting was done around September. The models were requested to go dressed in jeans and a plain shirt, wearing black heels, no make-up and carry along portfolios, past work as well as professional pictures. The auditions were done on the fifth floor of Spear House.
Daisy Nankya, a student, went for the try-outs: “I remember walking into the casting room. Before I could do anything, I was asked how tall I was. When I mentioned 5”6, I was politely told that I did not meet the required height standards,” she says in an amused tone. One thing that fascinated her though was how intimidatingly towering the other girls who were also waiting in line were.
“I really felt out of place as the rest of the other girls were really tall. No wonder the organisers raised the bar for the height requirement so high,” she says.
Indeed, the directors were very keen on the stature issue. They were looking at girls over 5’’11 while the boys had to be at least six feet tall. More than 100 models went for the castings and out of these, a selected number will be chosen to walk for next week’s show.

Why showcase in one day?
Unlike international shows like the New York Fashion Week where showcasing is done through the week, KFW runs for a day. So, why is it called Kampala Fashion ‘Week’?
Ayushi Ruparelia, a freelance KFW marketer and publicist, says, “If we get more sponsors next year we will introduce the full week.”

Before D-Day
Days before the final event, the models do fittings in the presence of the designers. Once they are satisfied that an outfit suits a particular model, a shot is taken of the model. This snapshot is what helps designers identify which model is supposed to be wearing a specific outfit during the showcase.
The day before showcase, the team takes the models through what they are supposed to do the following day, walk rehearsals being part of it. When the day for the event arrives, every team player is expected to be at the venue hours before the show kicks off. As the organisers run about making sure that everything is set, including the stage, the make-up and hair team works on the models.
At last year’s KFW, there was a rack provided for each model with all the clothes they were to wear. As the day drew close, the models changed into outfits of the first designer to showcase. When the show started, everyone got into position. The chaotic scenes never missed out, especially during the time of changing outfits.
But there are always people assigned to help models who have trouble dressing up or removing their outfits. For that matter, photographers were not allowed out of fear that they may decide to take unauthorised shots. And once the show is done, everyone goes home. But of course this is always one opportunity for an afterparty in Kampala.

Experiences from last year’s KFW.

“It was a professional show. Everything was on point from the stage, lighting and cooperation between the designers and models. I remember each model had a rack with the clothes they were going to showcase that day.,”

Martin Deporess, Fine Artist
“Everything was done professionally right from the stage setup, filming, timing and team itself. Every model had someone who was helping them dress up before going onto stage. This is unlike most of the other fashion shows that are held here,”

Maureen Mungu

“I was excited and nervous at the same time. The runway was quite long. I just kept praying to God not to lose balance as I walked.”

Esther Jones
“Despite the fact that there was a lot of pressure backstage, the experience was amazing. The team kept time since it was strictly a fashion show. But that aside, it was a great platform to network since the event consisted of people from different parts of the world.”

Ramah Shafik Kizito,

Where: Acacia Mall
When: Thursday, November 12.
Where to get tickets and the prices: Regular tickets and VIP on sale now at at Shs65,000 and Shs135,000.
Time: 4:30 pm

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