Creative Accelerator Programme begins Facilitation Workshop; And Mbuya Nehanda is the Inspiration

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Almost a year after getting selected as the first cohort of the Creative Accelerator Program (CAP), ten graduates from the Chinhoyi University of Technology will finally get an opportunity to learn life-changing skills to further their careers in fashion.

On Tuesday 13 February, The Zimbabwe Fashion Week Trust launched its Creative Accelerator Programme Facilitation Workshop, at the British Council of Zimbabwe.

This comes after an eventful 2023 for the organisers of ‘Zimbabwe’s most significant cultural event’, which culminated in their phoenix moment – the first Zimbabwe Fashion Week in four years, in the tourist haven that is Victoria Falls.

When they were selected for the Creative Accelerator Program in April 2023, the ten rising designers were in their final year at the Chinhoyi University of Technology’s School of Arts and Design. In October, they all got a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase their designs as part of the 2023 edition of the Zimbabwe Fashion Week.

Now graduates, the ten designers; namely Isheunoziva Zuze, Tafadzwa Chimuso, Ashley Kagande, Charlington Moyo, Lorraine T Chaza, Colleen Mutemasango, Juliet Madyavuta, Diana Mlambo, Leon Chirauga, and Carol Kurima; are poised to become household brands in Zimbabwean fashion.

Having facilitated the designers’ foray into fashion, the Zimbabwe Fashion Week Trust has stood on its promise to fortify their talent with an intensive three-week facilitation workshop.

The end product shall be a much-anticipated runway show where the ten cohorts shall showcase two designs that reflect the knowledge they would have gained from the Facilitation Workshop.

The intensive crash course will focus on four aspects that are ubiquitous to fashion worldwide – Draping in Fashion Design, Surface Decoration, Digital Fashion Illustration, and Fashion Business and Brand Management.

The theme for the Creative Accelerator Programme for this class of 2023 revolves around traditional attire, symbolism, empowerment, resilience, and the incorporation of draping techniques to tell powerful stories through fashion.

This theme pays homage to the iconic Mbuya Nehanda, whose indelible image in Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage represents the art of draping in a Zimbabwean context.

Speaking to Mcheno And More, Director of the Zimbabwe Fashion Week Trust, Mr Marshall Mutsamwira, spoke on the inspiration behind the theme;

“We chose Mbuya Nehanda as the inspiration for this Facilitation because she represents draping in fashion, from a Zimbabwean context.”

Director at The Zimbabwe Fashion Week Trust, Mr Marshall Mutsamwira

“We are hoping that the students will not only learn, but also interpret the contemporary way of draping for Zimbabweans so that ultimately, our people take pride in draping as contemporary fashion.”

In a refreshing approach to education, the Trust came up with the theme and the courses by consulting with the students, as Mutsamwira revealed;

“We built the curriculum together. Learning has always been teacher to student, but with the CAP, we’re taking a collaborative learning approach.”

The facilitators for the programme are Tatenda Chantelle Chidzidzi, Nompumelelo
Sambwanga and Marshall Mutsamwira himself. The facilitation of the programme will be done both physically and virtually. Commenting on the facilitators chosen for the programme, the Director said;

Facilitator Nompumelelo Sambwanga

“We have identified facilitators who have graduated in their craft with leading institutions, have done big things with their own brands, and also have the ability to teach. Our two facilitators have managed to have that exposure.”

Mr Mutsamwira revealed plans to develop the Creative Accelerator Programme into a fully-fledged virtual school that will be available to aspiring creatives across the continent, as well as other initiatives for creatives that cut across the fashion value chain.

He concluded by confirming this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe Fashion Week, although dates shall be announced in due course.

We also caught up with one of the ten, Lorraine T Chaza, at the launch, who was looking forward to learning Draping to add to her skillset.

Lorraine T Chaza (left) and Ashley Kagande (right), two of the ten cohorts chosen for the first Creative Accelerator Programmme

“I’m happy to be part of CAP because we are being taught things that we knew, but we didn’t understand. I’m looking forward to learning about Draping through this programme, as so many designer clothes are made through Draping,” she said.

She reminisced on her experience at last year’s Zimbabwe Fashion Week, where she got an opportunity to rub shoulders with the upper echelon of Zimbabwe fashion, and showcased her designs to positive reviews. She shared her takeaways from the experience;

“My biggest lesson is that we shouldn’t fear to face the crowd and we should be outstanding always, as designers. I also learnt a lot of things on how to handle runway shows, how to come up with versatile designs, how to implement designs, and how to communicate with models.”

She concluded by extending her gratitude to the Trust, and implored them to continue offering the Programme to upcoming designers.

“The ZFW Trust is giving us exposure, and an opportunity for us to establish ourselves. CAP is very important to me because I’m being enlightened and I can know what to add or remove when I’m moulding my brand.

“I hope that the trust continues to enroll students to this programme, which they can empower and teach the ins and outs of fashion,” Chaza concluded.

Representatives of Zimbabwe Fashion Week Trust’s partners who made the launch of the Creative Accelerator Program possible expressed delight at the launch of the Facilitation Workshop, and all agreed that the initiative is a positive step for Zimbabwean fashion.

Mr. Simbarashe Mudhokwani, Projects Manager at The Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, expressed his excitement about the potential impact of the programme on the fashion landscape. He also applauded the Zimbabwe Fashion Week Trust for taking initiative to empower young designers, saying;

“Congratulations to the Zimbabwe Fashion Week for actually going ahead and executing this. Most people have ideas but they fail to execute them. I hope that the virtual and in-person that will be executed over the next three weeks will be successful.”

Dr. Verity Muzenda, Executive Dean of the School of Art and Design at Chinhoyi University of Technology, emphasised the importance of nurturing creative talent for the future of the fashion industry.

“Let me emphasise that the crucial role that fashion plays in the process of nation building should never be underestimated. As we strive to build a brighter future for Zimbabwe, we must foster educational programmes that nurture young talent, encourage collaboration between established designers and emerging voices, and invest in infrastructure that supports the growth of the fashion industry.

“Let us push for a future where creativity flourishes, our culture thrives, and our nation shines on the global stage,“ she said.

Representing the hosts for the day was Mr. Roland Davies, Country Director at the British Council. He highlighted the significance of international collaboration and support for the development of Zimbabwean talent and the fashion industry.

In barely a year, The Zimbabwe Fashion Week Trust has managed to fill the gaping vacuum they had left in Zimbabwean fashion during their hiatus. Right at the beginning of the year, the Trust has hit the ground running towards building on the foundation they set in 2023.

The Creative Accelerator Programme is a much-needed initiative for a fashion industry that has massive potential, but is lacking the required resources and knowledge for them to reach the world class standards that the market has been exposed to through globalisation.

We shall be looking forward to the runway show that comes at the end of the Facilitation Workshop, and we shall be intently following the stories of the ten that made the first ever cohort of the program.

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