Afrodyssée, celebrating African excellence in the heart of Geneva
From 31 May to 2 June, the 7th edition of Afrodysée will showcase the best of African crafts and fashion in Geneva
28 May 2024

As a non-profit association, Afrodyssée supports and promotes African creation. Through its annual event and residencies in Africa and curation missions, Afrodyssée intends to improve the public’s knowledge of African cultures and aesthetics and contribute to increasing the influence of contemporary African design. Afrodyssée specializes in two areas of creation in particular: fashion and crafts.

Every spring, the association organizes an unparalleled event in Geneva, consisting of several days devoted to celebrating African creativity through fashion, design, and craftsmanship by showcasing a selection of eminent designers from all over the continent, which are leaving their mark well beyond the borders of their home countries.

Vincent Jacquemet, who is on the board of directors and handles all artistic aspects of the event, insists that “we must highlight Africa’s strengths and energy, rather than proposing yet another charity gala, where the stance is more to clear one’s conscience by making a donation than to actually get involved and taking an interest. Geneva is a strategic crossroad with a significant mix of Afro-descendants. By organizing such a big event in this city, the association offers visibility to all the selected creators and contributes to making Geneva become the European gateway to African excellence.”

The rising Nigerian brand FIA is known for its quirky and contemporary garderobe with its unique approach on denim and cotton deconstruction. © Fia Factory

The fashion and craft labels presented are rigorously selected to guarantee that they respect decent working conditions, promote sustainability and the perpetuation of traditional know-how in the production of their collections. The annual Afrodyssée event showcases a plurality of aesthetics and approaches which are utterly innovative and through in local traditions passed on throughout generations. For a weekend, the event manages to create a small ecosystem in the confines of its Geneva venue. This ensures that its endeavors are able to impact the public and, above all, to foster inter-cultural dialogue and exploration.

Taking place from Friday May 31 to Sunday 2 June, the 7th edition will focus even more radically on sustainability and ethical issues, choosing as its main theme: ‘upcycling.’ There is also a dedicated talk to explore the path ‘From trash to treasure’ on Saturday June 1. Africa is often the subject of a simplistic discourse, with many describing it as disinterested in preserving the environment, but the reality is that the continent is fully committed to building a sustainable future. Even if challenges remain, such as insufficient waste management and lack of recycling infrastructure, many local and national initiatives have turned to upcycling as a way to giving a second life and to add value to second-hand garments. This is the sustainable economic opportunity that the talk will address in a conversation with two designers, two journalists and a Congolese artist/artivist Eddy Ekete who will present upcycled costumes.

Among the big names of Afrodysée 7th edition, we can list Moshions from Rwanda, with its mastery of tie and dye and draping, and LiliBare from Kenya, inspired by the desert peoples and the nomads to create a functional and versatile elegance, with the soft touch of botanical hues. The word tradition assumes a whole new meaning, with from the traditional West African ‘boubou’ garment, reinvented by the label L’Artisane, from Senegal to basketry, which enters a new dimension thanks to conceptual handbags of Vanhu Vamwe from Zimbabwe. The kente, a typical national fabric of Ghana, is reinterpreted by Kente Gentlemen from Ivory Coast. All designers bring a profound and impactful fusion between past and present, from Masa Mara, that has released a very interesting collection about migration in Africa to Judy Sanderson, who has just won the first price the Grand Prix Maison Mode Méditerranée Endowment Fund (FDDMM).

Freshly awarded with the the Grand Prix Maison Mode Méditerranée, Judy Sanderson blends her African heritage with her experiences in Asia and Europe.© Judy Sanderson

The fashion shows on Friday and Saturday night at 8.30pm represent the culmination of this artistic and joyful event which will be followed by a party. During the entire event, a food court will offer various African culinary specialties. The second talk organized by Afrodyssée on Sunday afternoon, will focus on the ballroom movement, born in the nineties in US which has gained significant resonance in Europe in the latest years and still carries the natural liberating power of its beginnings. For this talk, that will be followed by a workshop and a performance, Afrodyssée has invited several many influential dancers, including Vinii Revlon, the first legend of voguing in Europe. Through the prism of fashion and craft, Afrodyssée offers a multifaceted overview of African age-old cultures and new trends.

Afrodyssée (fashion shows, showroom, talks, and food village), May 31 to June 2 2024, Maison Communale de Plainpalais, 52 rue de Carouge, 1205 Geneva,

* Francesca Serra is a freelance journalist. She has worked for press and radios and has been a regular contributor for the newspaper LE TEMPS since January 2019. See more here:
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