On February 14, 2015, Naomi Campbell and an array of celebrity guests and models put on the Fashion for Relief show to raise funds for the Ebola affected nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. A host of designers donated pieces for the models and celebrities to rock on the runway and Sierra Leone's own Madam Wokie was among those featured. Philanthropy and community involvement are not new ventures for the brand, as Madam Wokie has been a regular supporter of local groups that provide care packages to Ebola staff and survivors, and before the outbreak developed training and employment programs that assist those displaced by Sierra Leone's civil war. This time, Madam Wokie's charitable donation of a couture gown for feature in Fashion for Relief came with much deserved exposure for a brand that has taken the culture and craftsmanship of a little country to one of the world's largest stages. I was invited along to experience Madam Wokie's debut at New York Fashion Week by my friend and creative director of the brand Mary Ann KaiKai. I did my best to capture the moments in pictures below:
Naomi Campbell and her star studded model/celebrity cast closed out the show wearing zero t-shirts to represent where we're trying to get in this outbreak, down to zero cases.
Overall this was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. The show was exceptionally well organized and between great music, exciting star appearances and beautiful clothes I didn't want it to end. I am extremely proud of Mary Ann and what she has built with the Madam Wokie brand. She remains resilient despite all of the negativity and strife in Sierra Leone and continues to shine a positive light on the country. The Madam Wokie brand represents the beautiful things that can be produced in Sierra Leone and shared with the world. The couture gown that was showcased at Fashion for Relief is 100% Sierra Leonean made, from the hand dyed fabric, to the design, to the tailoring and I just couldn't be prouder of it. The lesson that Mary Ann has taught me is that behind every little (or big) success there is likely a story of immense courage and perseverance which we should keep in mind when enduring difficulties. If we can just stay focused on the goal and remain positive we can achieve immense success, even when working with scarce resources. Thank you to Mary Ann, Musu, Wokie and all of the Madam Wokie team for inviting me to experience this with you and a huge thank to Tom for rearranging your schedule to support us at the last minute and taking amazing pictures.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment or ask any questions that you may have below. - Munje