I was given the honors to do the fashion commentaries on the Red Carpet of the African Diaspora Awards 2013…a special initiative that celebrates exemplary individuals who make a difference in the African community in the United States.

It was difficult to decide what to ask the attendees for fear that they would take offense if I used the wrong words to describe what they were wearing. The only word that kept coming to mind as a description is Afrocentric. Fab Afrocentric dress…gorgeous Afrocentric skirt …Afrocentric blah, blah, blah. Then, cha-ching! I had a bright idea, I’ll let them tell the story behind their clothes.

Laureate Leymah GboweeLaureate Leymah Gbowee

I was given the honors to do the fashion commentaries on the Red Carpet of the African Diaspora Awards 2013…a special initiative that celebrates exemplary individuals who make a difference in the African community in the United States.

It was difficult to decide what to ask the attendees for fear that they would take offense if I used the wrong words to describe what they were wearing. The only word that kept coming to mind as a description is Afrocentric. Fab Afrocentric dress…gorgeous Afrocentric skirt …Afrocentric blah, blah, blah. Then, cha-ching! I had a bright idea, I’ll let them tell the story behind their clothes.

Ghanaian-American hip-hop artist BlitzGhanaian-American hip-hop artist Blitz

Okay, I get around. Blitz recognized me from a previous encounter. I asked him if I could interview him on camera. Blitz won the Musician of the Year Award and did a great performance on stage. His Ghanaian hip-hop is how hip-hop should have remained in the states: fun, conscious, and about life.

He describes his dress style as Afro-Metro, a new term that really impressed me. You could see the metropolitan city life (as he explained it) in his slick silver suit and sneakers for a clashing hip look. Most New Yorkers feel the need to be comfortable…even when they are dressed up. A touch of African print hat and tie…the perfect ingredients for the recipe of both experiences combined. Ghana via NYC, aka Afro-Metro.

Amini Kajunju, CEO and President of the Africa-America InstituteAmini Kajunju, CEO and President of the Africa-America Institute

Amini Kanjuju, my Congolese sister (as she started calling me), won the Advocate Award, accepting the honour in what she called a “classic” look. I agree that it is a traditional classic: no western fabric mixture, solely matching African print blouse and skirt. Amini stated that she was attracted to the combination of lively colours (yellow and burgundy). I call this one traditional elegance.

 

Though the next two outfits were not African, the women looked tight! Sometimes Afrocentrism “oozes” out of you without wearing the clothes. Sometimes it is your hair that gives it away or the natural colours of the make-up. Sometimes it is just the pride of having ancestors from Africa and what that means.

 

Nnenna Agba, contestant from cycle 6 of America's Next Top ModelNnenna Agba, contestant from cycle 6 of America's Next Top Model

 

 

When I looked at Nnenna Agba from the America’s Next Top Model Season Six, her hair gave it away. She was wearing something that she calls a “simple but comfort first” look. I disagree, far from simple, girlfriend. Simple details on her top, yes, but “edgy” as her friend blurted out. Perhaps because of the leather or the all black look, I would also call it “edgy.”

Yaya Dacosta, American actress and fashion modelYaya Dacosta, American actress and fashion model

 

 

Yaya DaCosta an African-American actress/model, won the Actor of the Year Award. She was in the Nigerian film Mother of George, The Butler, The Kids Are Alright, among others. She looked so sweet and innocent…completely the opposite of her character in The Butler, a movie that I did not like, except for Yaya. She left me with a powerful thought. As Africans we need to remove barriers among us that do not really exist.

A low-cut, classic black, fitted dress, always works for fancy affairs. Her dress was tastefully above the knees. She seems to have followed the Woman Code…if you’re exhibiting at the top, do not exhibit at the bottom. She rocked the simple and sexy black look and looked simply fabulous.

Article author Ntumba Mukendi and Les Nubians member, HeleneArticle author Ntumba Mukendi and Les Nubians member, Helene

 

This dress looked like a walking piece of art.  I loved the African influenced colors.  It was just BEAUTIFUL!

 

 

Presenter at the African Diaspora AwardsPresenter at the African Diaspora Awards

 

 

Presenter at the African Diaspora AwardsPresenter at the African Diaspora Awards

A standing ovation for putting together colors we would not think of normally putting together and making it work.  From the jewelry to the head-wrap, the blue and red was working!

 

About Ntumba Mukendi

Congolese born Ntumba Mukendi is a fashion designer who previously worked at Tommy Hilfiger, then launched her own brand ntumba.ntumba design (www.ntumbantumbadesign.com). Her company utilizes authentic African fabric to help boost the African economy. Ntumba is also the founder of the fashion-based organization ntumba.ntumba apparel (www.ntumbantumba.org) which promotes gender-empowerment.

F:  https://www.facebook.com/ntumbantumbadesign

T:  https://twitter.com/ntumbantumba

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