Africans in Italy. Kenyan-Italy based fashion designer, stylist and artist Roselyne Ogonya, had the opportunity to showcase her latest collection at her own fashion event in Cinisello-Balsamo, Milan, Italy. The occasion – the 10th anniversary of Il Pertini – Biblioteca Civica Cinisello Balsamo, the municipal library.
This stunning event was made possible by the collaboration between Roselyne Ogonya, who is the president and co-founder of AICE (Africa Italia Cultural Exchange Association), Cinifabrique, Anffas Nord Milano, painter Daniela Carcano and the young people from the civil service volunteers organisation.
The event was presented by the very nice and lively Malice Omondi, AICE’s Vice President, and Issa Tallawi, a young man impressed by Ogonya’s skills and drive.
“I’m honoured and grateful for the opportunity granted to us by Councillor for Cultures and Sports Daniel Maggi to organise this nice cultural event to mark the 10th anniversary of our municipal library which is in all aspects a cultural centre,” said Ms Ogonya at the event.
The mission behind the event dubbed ‘Ties that bind” (‘I legami che uniscono’) was to highlight the shared cultural values that unite people from all backgrounds. The unique event featured live music, art, storytelling and fashion show.
Ms Ogonya is also the winner of the Best African Fashion Designer in Europe at the AFRONEWS – Ortel Mobile African Community in Germany Awards 2022. She will also be showcasing her designs at the Awards Gala Night on the 22nd of October 2022 which is an event many look forward to. Find more information here.
Giacomo Ghilardi, Mayor of Cinisello Balsamo, thanked Ms Ogonya for organising the event and stressed that it was important to face all challenges in life with the spirit of Ubuntu (Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others‘. It is often described as reminding us that ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’).
The Mayor described Cinisello Balsamo as an open place where all should feel at home.
Mr Ghilardi recalled that the previous day Dr Denis Mukwege, a world-renowned gynaecologist, human rights activist and Nobel Peace laureate, was in Cinisello Balsamo to be awarded honorary citizenship.
Addressing the guests at the event, Afronews.de chief-editor Stephen Ogongo thanked Ms Ogonya for the important work she is doing to promote a positive image of Africa and Africans through her fashion designs and cultural events. He stressed the important role Africans in diaspora play in promoting a positive image of Africa and Africans.
“African fashion is conquering the world because of the exceptional work of designers like Roselyne,” Mr Ogongo said.
He described Ms Ogonya as an effective ambassador of African cultures and values who is proudly increasing awareness of African cultures and values through fashion.
Councillor Maggi praised Ms Ogonya’s efforts to involve young people from the local community in her cultural events, especially in the fashion show marking the library’s 10th anniversary.
Ms Maggi recalled meeting the Kenyan fashion designer during the Covid-19 pandemic when she donated customised face masks.
Ms Ogonya said the event was one of her most satisfying achievements, adding that she was honoured to have participated in the library’s 10th anniversary celebrations with her association, Africa Italia Cultural Exchange (AICE).
”We wanted to organise something that was more than just a fashion show – a true cultural moment. We wanted it to be a moment to enjoy art, fashion, photography and music as we mark this anniversary through a network of different artists and the municipality.,” she said.
The event featured other talents including; Aziz Sawadogo, a young writer who presented his book “Non sono nero” (I’m not Black”), live performance by painter Daniel Carcano who created a piece of art on canvas, a live performance by the Make-up artists from Stefano Aselmo Academy who recreated the tribal make-up on the models, and a fine performance by Naby Eco Camara, a Griot musician. Fashion photographers Barbara Bolzoni and Giorgio Taddia were the official photographers at the event.
The event was also attended by Kavin Rolexx Mac’Onyango, President of the Association of Kenyan Diaspora in Italy (KEDITA).
We caught up with Roselyne Ogonya to ask her a few questions:
Qn: What does fashion mean to you and what is your motivation?
To me fashion is putting my own creativity in evidence, a creation that stands out from the rest, notable daring and practical at the same time.
Qn: Is it important to you to showcase your African culture into your pieces and why?
Of course yes! Our African culture is the main identity of my brand if not I will just be in the same flood as the ‘normal’ fashion designers out there.
Qn: What is your idea of changing the African narrative? (taking this from your accessories launch and you saying they have a different story and meaning)
The idea behind “TIES THAT BIND” was to put together a collective aspect of cultural interactions between fashion, art, music and literature in both African and European cultures, it was to show the unity between a people even despite time and distance.
Qn: Should we expect another fashion show in the future?
Definitely! I will be Showcasing at the AFRONEWS GALA AWARDS on the 22 October for the category of the Best African fashion designer in Europe Awards in Eschborn-Germany.
READ MORE ABOUT ROSELYNE OGONYA HERE: Fashion designers to showcase designs at the AFRONEWS – Ortel Mobile African Community in Germany Awards 2022 Gala Night