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Exclusive Q&A with Founder and Owner of Fashion Week Studio Inc, Nathanaëlle Hottois Galetlole

As the world continues to look to Africa for inspiration, it’s becoming more apparent that our time is NOW! Here, Founder and Owner of Fashion Week Studio Inc, Nathanaëlle Hottois Galetlole shares the inspiration behind the recently launched Pan African Luxury runway show, and expands on her approach to impact.

Launched on the 2nd of December at the Mount Nelson in the Mother City, Nathanaëlle affirms that the Pan African Luxury runway show is a platform for talented African designers to showcase their work and receive recognition for it. “Including those that are still forging a name for themselves in the industry.”

Glamour: What’s the significance of the location?

Nathanaëlle: We flew in 75 millionaires and billionaires. “Everyone in that room were CEOs and entrepreneurs so we wanted to find a middle ground and of course, Cape Town is such a highly touristic destination. Mount Nelson is the best hotel in Cape Town, it’s absolutely beautiful!

Glamour: Please talk us through the collections that were showcased?

Nathanaëlle: It was informed by variety; we have Christopher Emef by Christopher Emefiele who’s only 24 years old and has huge potential. He’s half Nigerian and half South African, highly creative, and his garments are very good quality. Keke from Belle Togs has fun and flair, I love her because she’s such a passionate, entrepreneurial woman, and she also just showcased in Paris. There’s also Safietou Seck of SARAYYA from Senegal; the fabrics are really amazing as well as the quality. These are designers that are not really on the map but I really believe in their brands. Molebatsi, to me, is absolute African luxury; Jessica Jane incorporates the Tswana and Xhosa cultures into her designs. Her husband and co-founder, Wandile Molebatsi is from both tribes so she’s embracing that. The garment making precision, attention to detail, and quality of the fabric... it’s out of this world!

Glamour: What else did you consider when choosing the designers?

Nathanaëlle: These designers not only have beautiful designs but they have what it takes to get to the top. We like to select designers who are underdogs.

Glamour: At the core of it, it’s about storytelling. What do you want consumers to know?

Nathanaëlle: I want them to know that the world does want African fashion, and I think a lot of African designers don’t realize that. Africa has been influencing the fashion industry to such a high level, and I believe it’s important to understand this. To me, this is the basic reason for wanting to do this. I want to to ensure that Africa gets its recognition as well as the profits. Considering that we have hundreds of years of history involving all the continents, I believe that it’s time for things to change and of course, I’m in the fashion industry so it’s my duty to ensure that we are forward thinking, and that we don’t continue what we’ve witnessed for so many years. Africa has been exploited for its minerals and culture; not only does the continent not get credit but the profits too. So this is something I’m passionate about.

Glamour: You are clearly intentional about elevating African designers and driving the conversation forward. Where did it all start for you?

Nathanaëlle: I was born with a love for the continent and it’s something that’s always been dear to my heart. I ventured into the fashion space early on in my career so that’s my arena, but the story I often tell is that my father sat me down when I was about 12 years old, and he said “you’ll realize with time that somehow there’s an unspoken agreement, an unspoken message that white people are superior to black people. And I want you to be very clear about this; our race has killed, wiped out the Native Americans, colonised Africa, and we had slavery in America. This is the race you belong to, and I want you to be grounded enough to know that whenever you get the idea that you belong to a superior race, it’s not the truth.” This is something that was engraved in me from a very young age so I’m just doing my part in the industry I belong to.

Glamour: So where to from here?

Nathanaëlle: We’ll be showcasing in Paris and Milan next season in February. And in September, we’re launching the Fashion Week Studio Pan African Luxury group. It’s a whole new undertaking and we’re aiming for at least 20 African designers from as many countries as possible. It’s going to be impactful; we wanted to do it in New York because there’s a large African American community that’s keen on supporting African designers. In fact, we have a group of women; to be a part of it, you have to be an African American woman making at least one hundred dollars a year. This group is associated with the project. We want to bring some quality contacts to the designers, not just people who have the means but also the heart to support. And we’ll have a buyer’s forum, we’re currently having a conversation with the buyers about consumer responsibility. If you say you love Africa and African fashion, you must ensure that you’re purchasing it from the people who own the culture, and not the people who are profiting from or replicating it.

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