MILAN – The Afro Fashion Association of Italy launches the inaugural edition of the Black Carpet Awards at Milan Fashion Week in February, which will run from February 22-28.
The association, which has been promoting diversity, equity and inclusion since 2015 and highlights talent from different backgrounds with an original focus on the African continent, will host a gala on February 22 at an as yet undisclosed location, where 10 awards will be presented in five categories to 10 leaders. of change belonging to underrepresented communities.
“Throughout my career I met people and companies that challenged perception and rewrote the history of DE&I in the country. I thought of celebrating them, because celebration is a form of representation that is fundamental,” said Michelle Francine Ngonmo, the brain behind the Afro Fashion Association and, along with designers Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan, the force behind We Are Made in Italy. or the WAMI collective, which participated in the last shows of Milan Fashion Week.
The Afro Fashion Association has a database of 3,000 professionals and talents who have been shortlisted into 25 finalists. An international jury will select the 10 winners in the five categories: culture, legacy, creativity, community and entrepreneurship. Speaking of the latter category, Ngonmo highlighted that “diversity is often approached as charity, while in reality it is also an engine of wealth,” he said.
The focus of the fundamental edition will be on personalities, companies and associations based in Italy active in fashion, design, food, music, sport and cinema, among other fields, who have contributed to establishing new cultural and entrepreneurial paradigms in the country, but Ngonmo’s ambition is to expand the international reach of the event.
The event will include the screening of a video tribute to the late Virgil Abloh, a long-time supporter of the work of the association and Ngonmo.
The project is the result of ongoing conversations with other like-minded professionals who have been drawn to the Afro Fashion Association over the years.
In addition to Buchanan and Jean, Ngonmo involved social media personality Tamu McPherson; art and fashion curator and digital art expert Gloria Maria Cappelletti; Jordan Anderson, the Milan-based journalist and creative director behind the digital project My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness or MQBMBQ; art director Macs Iotti; Nana Brenu, the Italian designer of Ghanaian origin, as well as the head of editorial content of Vogue Italia Francesca Ragazzi and the founder and CEO of Nss, Walter D’Aprile.
“Diversity is about sitting around a table and discussing to challenge representation,” Ngonmo said. “I hope this project will break down walls and barriers and help understand the importance of forging ties and working together to write the history of DE&I,” he noted.