Boston College’s African Student Organization (ASO) summoned students, faculty, alumni, and outside-BC guests for its annual fashion show on Saturday night. The doors of The Heights Room opened at 8 p.m. to digest the long line of guests, some of whom arrived over an hour early to ensure good seating at the sold-out event. For some, the wait may have been recompensed by a raffle to win a watch from Daniel Wellington.
Comedian AphricanApe shaku shaku-ed his way onto the stage to emcee the fashion show and “Africa’s Next Top Model,” America’s Next Top Model-based competition that was interspersed throughout. The show was judged by Latifat Odetunde, MCAS ’22, and Anthony Vieti, MCAS ’22, who were posing as Nigerian singer-songwriters Tiwa Savage and Wizkid, respectively.” Featured brands included Laletty & Co, Omooba Fashions, CHRISTIANALARO, and The House of Nahdra. Pieces by Vieti, MCAS ’21, were also featured in the show.
Modeled by BC students of different genders, the first set of looks grabbed the attention of the audience. The outfits mixed colorful kente and other printed fabrics with denim to create statement every-day looks.
By the end of the first set, Savage and Wizkid announced their first model contestant, Akua from Ghana, played by Pamela Bailey, MCAS ’22. Her first outfit included a long-sleeved, off-the-shoulder black top paired with a brown skirt with a square-and-line pattern. Though smug in nature, Akua’s confidence captured the attention of the audience and judges.
Soon, the rest of the models came onto the stage again, this time showcasing a colorful geometric array of jewelry and adornments—all of which inspired from accessories of tribes across the African continent.
One male model wore a statement fanny pack across his shoulders and chest, and another wore suspenders with an eye-catching print. The Africa’s Next Top Model judges were quick to call back the last two female models, who introduced themselves as Zendaya from Zimbabwe and Aziza from Egypt, portrayed by Jessica Andrade, MCAS ’21, and Amanda Rodriguez, MCAS ’22, respectively. When the three finalists had been chosen, the competition intensified, evidenced by the friendly-yet-menacing looks exchanged by the models on stage.
The contestants exited the stage to give way to a campaign video in which each of them advertised a product. The sequences showed that being Africa’s Next Top Model requires more than a pretty face and that advertising is more than smiling in the camera while holding a product.
Transitioning into the show’s intermission, AphricanApe welcomed BC’s African dance team, PATU, to the stage. With precision, PATU utilized every inch of the catwalk to perform dances to Afrobeat, reggae, and soca songs including “Can’t Believe” by Kranium, featuring Wizkid and “Ola” by Olatunji.
AphricanApe called for a few audience members to participate in a dance-off, and with a lot of urging from their surrounding friends, three sophomore students found their way onto stage. One danced to an Afrobeats song, another to hip-hop, and the last timidly two-stepped to gospel. Like the comprehensive fashion show, the diversity in the students’ music choices modestly reflected the diversity in cultures as a result of the African diaspora.
Because she wasn’t afraid to have fun and immerse herself in the exciting atmosphere, the winner of the dance battle, AphricanApe announced, would be awarded with an “iPhone X… charger.” The audience roared with laughter and applause for the winner as she settled back into her seat, with a large grin still on her face.
AphricanApe continued to hold the attention of the audience with a brief comedy set about growing up in an African household. He reminisced about punishments from his parents, which he suspects were sometimes arbitrary.
After the intermission, the show resumed with an amplified look. The last two sets of garments that were modeled transitioned from fancy dress to elegant ballroom attire. Some pieces were void of traditional tribal fabrics, but they did not disappoint. The looks ranged from blazers and button-ups to pantsuits and monochromatic dresses. As the final piece, which was both cutting-edge and couture, came onto the catwalk, some audience members’ jaws dropped in awe.
After all of the models returned to the stage for their final walk that represented the full range of the night’s outfits, Savage and Wizkid accompanied the final contestants to announce the winner. The audience beat their laps to create a drumroll in anticipation of the announcement that crowned Zendaya as Africa’s Next Top Model.
Featured Image Courtesy of Courtney Bower