Cirque du Couture

African SA holds its 15th annual hair and fashion show


African Student Association fused music, dancing and fashion into one big cultural circus.

More than 500 people attended ASA’s hair and fashion show at the Pierce Arrow Building on Elmwood Avenue Saturday. The annual show promotes local African designers.

“We want to show people that we’re not just about the head wraps and waist scarves,” said Faoziyat Sanusi, a sophomore international business major and publicity coordinator for ASA. “There are a lot of innovative designs within African culture.”

Attendees were first greeted with a plate of rice, chicken, macaroni and cheese and baked ziti. Then everyone took their seats and waited for the show to start.

The show was originally set to begin at 6:30 p.m., but a few designers showed up late, pushing the show behind schedule. DJ Tunez and host Burger King, a popular Vine comedian, entertained the crowd until the first model walked the runway.

By the time the show started, people had packed the seats and others were standing against the wall. There was a VIP section in the middle of the double runway and the general audience on the outside.

The show opened up with Fresh Dogs, a clothing line created in Buffalo. Models sported casual T-shirts and sweaters. Fresh Dogs, a Liberian designer, refers to its clothing as urban, yet cultural. Fresh Dogs draws influences from other urban clothing lines. The brand displayed graphic tees and crewnecks.

“I did this show for the culture,” said the designer.

The Grunge Project and MCMXC$ then came out together. Their oversized shirts and jackets were popular, and the crowd favorite seemed to be a clear jacket with a white two-piece underneath. The models sported red masks.

Tinz Clothing and Lief Kultuur both turned African prints into modern and casual shirts, pants, dresses, skirts and jackets. According to the Lief Kultuur website, the name of the clothing line translates to “Love Culture” in Dutch and Afrikaans, and was founded “with the mission to promote Kultuur shock” through their clothing. The designers refer to their style as an “outlet of colorful expressions and informative art.”

Je Suis NYC was the last clothing line to walk the runway. Designer Senami Atinkpahoun incorporated her West African background to her colors, prints and silhouettes. The clothes ranged from long flowing dresses to denim and leather jackets.

Two of the designers that were featured were hair designers. The two designers, Asia’s Creations and Candyland Hair Co., incorporated the circus theme into their designs.

Asia’s Creations designs featured colorful hoops and rings of hair coming from the models’ heads. Candyland Hair Co. had its models come out in leotards and red sashes. One model threw popcorn into the audience while wearing a bag of popcorn on her head.

ASA has been planning the fashion show since early summer. ASA chose both the designers and the models for the show. Models who made it past casting calls participated in rehearsals until final cuts. More than 50 models made it to the runway.

Ugo Peter-Obiagwu, a senior business major with a concentration in management information systems, has modeled in five fashion shows in Buffalo. He said that modeling helps improve his self-esteem. He isn’t as shy or nervous as when he first started.

The audience screamed and clapped as Obiagwu took his shirt off at the end of the runway.

“The best part for me is the reaction I get from the crowd while I’m on the runway,” Obiagwu said. “And that I get picked to model some really amazing clothes.”

When the models weren’t walking the runway, ASA had other forms of entertainment to keep the crowd excited. ASA male and female dancers opened up with a performance that engaged the crowd.

Two aerial dancers performed on a red silk hanging over the VIP section. Afrique Dancers performed to an African circus mix while wearing red tutus, colorful high socks and wigs.

Caribbean Student Association’s dance team, Crossfiyah, turned the stage into a circus. The dancers came out in face paint and colorful clothing while one of the dancers wore a lion costume.

UB Step Troupe shook the runway as it performed in colorful tutus while waving ribbons and tossing balloons.

“I really enjoyed the show and a lot of the acts were unexpected,” said Adriana Black, a junior psychology major. Black’s favorite pieces were by Je Suis NYC.

Johan Welch, also known as a rapper named OG, is a Buffalo native who performed at the fashion show.

“I really like the culture that’s brought to the show,” Welch said.

His favorite pieces were by MCMXC$.

The show ended at 11:30 p.m. and went without intermission due to the delayed start. The chairs were cleared and the space was used to hold the after party, which lasted almost to 3 a.m.

“I feel the show was a success,” Obiagwu said. “ASA fashion shows get better each year and it’s always nice to see growth and improvement.”

James Battle contributed reporting to this story