Monday 31 March 2014

Vogue Festival 2014: Street Style + Naomi Campbell on Africa & Diversity

I had the pleasure of attending this year's Vogue Festival and for the second year in a row too!

As I walked to the Southbank Centre, I was in awe of the beautiful women wearing such stunning clothes. For me, I'm drawn to unconventional looks, rather than the expected quilted Chanel messenger and shift dress. No offence intended.

I definitely loved seeing such a diverse bunch of people coming together because of their love of fashion. For me, Vogue Festival is unique because of its mix of the elite, who clearly have striving careers in the industry, and the younger crowd of students, interns, photographers and bloggers. The younger crowd are all completely giddy with excitement but choose to overshadow it with that indifference that we all know so well.

Street Style: Simplicity x2 

This was one of my favourite street style looks from the event. Personally, I don't particularly like this new monochrome, flatform trend but on this model, I think it works with her outfit. Streetwise all over, but you can tell that this is effortless.
Now this is a completely different look altogether but I adore it for many reasons. Three words: this is risky!  Having an all-white palette is definitely hard to pull off but when I saw this outfit, Naya Rivera's jumpsuit for the Elle Awards came to mind:

Although this clearly a more sexy oufit with the holed sleeves, both ladies do a great job at pulling off a tailored, loose trouser. Breaking up the all-white with coloured accessories, like black or purple court shoes is an excellent way to add colour without losing edginess.

What About Me?

In all honesty, I wasn't too sure on what to wear to this event but I decided to go for a floral skater dress and a structured bag with gold detailing. Initially, I was going to go for black loafers but I opted for lace-up, heeled boots to contrast with the 'girliness'. (P.S. Yes, I know. This is a terrible picture.)

Africa, Diversity and Nudity?!

As Naomi and Franca Sozzani walked on stage, the atmosphere surrounding the auditorium was buzzing. Everyone in the audience knew that these ladies were indeed fashion legends.

I loved the pairing of Franca and Naomi together as they did an excellent job talking about several issues in the fashion industry today. One being the stigma attached to Africa and why many of  fashion's elite are holding back Africa's growth. Both women fearlessly spoke of their experiences with people who refused to support their travels to Africa because they believed it was full of AIDS and malaria. I still find it disappointing to hear that people are so caught up in the negatives. Every single country in the world has its problems, and every single one also has its qualities which make it beautiful too. As a person who has travelled to South Africa, I can see why Naomi is so adamant in deconstructing the generalisations people make about the continent. 

Naomi also spoke of the changes in the modelling industry: 1) Models are no longer seen as the subaltern of fashion as they CAN 'speak', 2) Models of colour are now becoming prominent in both high-fashion and commercial advertising. 

'We have never seen so many women of colour in advertising. We didn't start this to blame or complain, just build awareness. Keeping it fresh in people's minds. It's not a trend', said Naomi. 

A highlight of mine was when Naomi picked up the March issue of British Vogue and pointed out all the non-white models. It was a real statement move and I think it foregrounded the progress that the industry is making, especially when you can see a huge visual of Sozzani's famous 'Black Issue' of Italian Vogue, where Naomi features on the cover. 

In terms of Naomi's goals, she spoke of her successful TV show, The Face which has been sold in over 60 countries. Despite the hard work, the supermodel stressed that she loved being a mentor to young women and guiding them through the challenges of modelling. She did say that she would eventually pass on that role, so I'm sure talks of the future guiding mentor will arise soon. 

Here's something nobody saw coming though... Naomi is planning on releasing an archive book which will feature nude shots in her early days. She giggled as she mentioned this future venture but if Naomi can pick up herself up from falling off a runway in Paris and carry on so gracefully, I'm sure a few nude shots will be a breeze!

Queen Bee

People often see Naomi as a bitch who throws far too many tantrums, especially with the previous allegations of assault. However, I think there's a very soft-centred side to her character and she allows this to be displayed when she is most relaxed. Surprisingly, Naomi came across as a very humble woman who wishes to uplift and empower others. 

'To be sitting here 28 years later (after I got discovered), I feel so grateful and blessed. I wouldn't have imagined that I'd still be working with the same photographers that I worked with when I was sixteen.' 

Even when talking of the recent Kim Kardashian and Kanye West cover of American Vogue, she was very compassionate. She did not regard Anna Wintour's decision as a failure, but rather a 'stepping stone' for the magazine. Now, arguably she had to say something of this nature because it'd cause controversy otherwise but I got the impression that she was genuinely thinking about the bigger picture. 

Naomi fully let down her guard and proved to us that there is an intelligent mind behind the sex-appeal and that the future of fashion lies in diversity, empowerment and fearlessness. 

Photo credits: Darren Gerrish and Dvora