The African fashion industry is, today, celebrating the recognition of one of its leading figures, African Fashion International (AFI) Founder and CEO Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, who has received the Fashion 4 Development’s inaugural Franca Sozzani Award at the United Nations in New York.
Dr Moloi-Motsepe was recognised for her “great efforts in promoting African fashion designers through African Fashion International, as well as supporting the empowerment of disadvantaged women.” She is the first-ever recipient of the award, which commemorates the late Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, who had a passionate commitment to fashion’s role as an engine of transformation and economic development as well as creativity. Dr Moloi-Motsepe was nominated for the award by Franca Sozzani’s son, the Emmy Award-nominated film director Francesco Carrozzini, and by Norway’s HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit on behalf of Fashion 4 Development.
The award was presented to Dr Moloi-Motsepe by Fashion 4 Development President and Founder Evie Evangelou and fashion designer Livia Firth. The presentation took place Tuesday, 19 September 2017 at a high-level luncheon hosted by Fashion 4 Development during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. Guests included global first ladies, diplomats, fashion VIPs, and other key international influencers.
Fashion 4 Development supports programmes in 20 countries, using fashion and the textile industry to advance economic and social development, preserve culture and empower women in order to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. To complement the luncheon’s runway show with fabulous creations from Elie Saab, African Fashion International ran a parallel event showcasing Africa’s exceptional fashion and design talent.
Ten African designers were selected to showcase based on their strong creative and sustainable business track records. They were: South Africa’s David Tlale, Klûk CGDT, Thula Sindi, Marianne Fassler of Leopard Frock, MaXhosa by Laduma, Stefania Morland, Gavin Rajah, Tuelo Nguyuza of TN Collectiv, together with Nigeria’s Ituen Basi, and Mille Collines from Rwanda.
“The African fashion world applauds Fashion 4 Development’s inspired nomination of Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe as inaugural recipient of this new award,” says distinguished South African fashion designer Marianne Fassler. “She has become the powerhouse of African fashion thanks to her directional creative leadership and vision, driving social, cultural and economic development. She recognises the value of celebrating our African history and heritage, while also understanding that fashion must make its own future through development programmes, including her own company’s AFI Fastrack™ and AFI NextGen™.”
African Fashion International is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Through its brands, including the acclaimed AFI Fashion Week platforms, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has pioneered African luxury fashion to build a critical mass of globally recognised African design talent.
“I am deeply honoured to receive the inaugural Franca Sozzani Award,” she says. “I am moved by this recognition of our efforts in Africa to showcase all our continent has to offer – its unique style, authenticity and its abundant future.
“There has been much discussion of cultural appropriation recently but I look across the city to the Museum of Modern Art where a new exhibition respecting the potential of global creative co-operations will open at the beginning of October. It features our own MaXhosa by Laduma as part of a bold re-examination of fashion and tradition that fills my heart with joy and hope for the future of creative fashion.
“It was extraordinary, while receiving the award, to feel as spiritually supported as ever by all my colleagues, clients, designers and fashion creatives across Africa,” Dr Moloi-Motsepe says.
“I know that I share this award with all of them because none of us could do this alone. In my culture, we say ‘If you want to go fast you walk alone, but if you want to go far, you walk with others.’
“In the African fashion business, we know that means we must join forces to take our continent’s fashion industry forward so that it becomes economically and creatively viable and sustainable. We are all honoured today that this award marks another step in African fashion’s journey to the full global recognition it richly deserves.”
Profile: Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe
Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe is a leading businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist in South Africa and was named one of the country’s Most Influential Women in 2012. She believes fashion has an important role to play in economic development and social change, as well as in self-realisation. Over the past decade, through her company African Fashion International, she has enabled African designers to take their rightful place on the fashion runways of the world. She is also CEO of the Motsepe Family Foundation.
Born and brought up in Soweto, Dr Moloi-Motsepe grew up with a profound awareness of the strong need for social and political change in South Africa. She was only seven years old when she saw her own grandmother die from the complications of hypertension, a chronic disease that should have been routinely treated. This inspired in her the ambition to become a doctor and prevent such needless death. She studied medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch University, ultimately pursuing paediatrics and specializing in women’s health. She worked as a doctor in South African public hospitals and as a general practitioner for 20 years, which contributed further to her interest in development issues.
Working at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, USA, from 1991 to 1992, she became increasingly interested in women’s health. On her return to South Africa in 1993, she opened one of Johannesburg’s first women’s health clinics. In 2000, she spoke on ‘Women and Health in the Workplace’ at the Global Summit of Women. She has also served as President of the Cancer Association of South Africa from 2002 to 2007 and received the Elizabeth Tshabalala Award for Raising Breast Cancer Awareness in 2012, other awards include; in 2011, under the auspices of the Global Fund and of Friends of the Global Fund, she was appointed Champion for Africa by Gift From Africa, aiming to mobilise private-sector support in Africa to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, IWFSA – Excellence Award in recognition of sterling contribution to business and community; in 2015 the Enactus Entrepreneurship Award and in 2015 Keep A child Alive as Recipients Of The Humanitarian Award which is run by the Alicia Keys Foundation.
In 2002, she took the helm of the Motsepe Family Foundation, a philanthropic initiative that she and her husband, mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, founded. The couple are now part of The Giving Pledge, an international movement founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, whose members commit to donating half their family wealth to development causes.
One of the Motsepe Family Foundation’s most recent projects was the March 2017 launch of The Little Black Book, a resource guide for everything from health to entrepreneurial queries for women. In recognition of her continuing interest in women’s issues, Dr Moloi-Motsepe serves on the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women’s Leadership Board, which addresses gender equality in the workplace and is a past member of the Word Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on population which she chaired in 2014.
Having inherited a classic sense of style from her elegant mother, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has also always enjoyed the creative flair of the fashion industry. In 2007, she acquired events company Leisureworx and used it as a vehicle to build African Fashion International, (AFI) a platform of properties that would enable social and economic development in the continent through one of the world’s favourite passions, fashion. AFI’s properties now include: AFI Fashion Week Joburg, AFI Fashion Week Cape Town; fashion development programmes AFI Fastrack™ and AFI NextGen™; online lifestyle portal Xperience AFI; online retail portal AFI Privé; and AFI Masterclasses.
Dr Moloi-Motsepe anchored development initiatives in the fashion sector, injecting an entrepreneurial consciousness and aiming to ensure that designers are as capable of succeeding with the business of fashion as they are in the world of design. She believes that a key to competing successfully in the global fashion market is combining high-quality design and craftsmanship with Africa’s heritage and history in a distinctive fashion package. She has also ensured that her concern for welfare and her belief in the mobilising power of fashion overlap through projects such as the Design For Life Breast Cancer Campaign.
Dr Moloi-Motsepe pioneered African luxury fashion through her establishment of African Fashion International, believing it was vital to build a critical mass of globally recognised African design talent. Through her efforts, several African designers have been launched in New York, Paris and London, including David Tlale, Thula Sindi, Eleni Labrou, and locally Rich Mnisi, Khothatso Tsotetsi and Tuelo Nguyuza. Her initiatives also attracted international fashion attention, from the likes of legendary fashion guru Suzy Menkes, currently International Vogue Online Editor, and creator of New York Fashion Week Fern Mallis, to African fashion events. The late Franca Sozzani, then Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, subsequently dedicated a whole issue to showcasing African designers and models.
On 19 September 2017, at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Dr Moloi-Motsepe will receive its inaugural Franca Sozzani Award. This will be presented by Franca Sozzani’s son, the Emmy Award-nominated film director Francesco Carrozzini, and by Norway’s HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit on behalf of Fashion 4 Development. The presentation will take place at a high-level luncheon hosted by Fashion 4 Development President and Founder Evie Evangelou and by Livia Firth, fashion-designer wife of renowned actor Colin Firth.
Dr Moloi-Motsepe will be recognised for her “great efforts in promoting African fashion designers through African Fashion International as well as supporting the empowerment of disadvantaged women.” Fashion 4 Development supports programmes in 20 countries, using fashion and the textile industry to advance economic and social development, preserve culture and empower women in order to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
She has three sons with her husband Patrice Motsepe. The couple enjoy leisure activities together from attending football matches, music competitions, weekends on safari, the Cannes Film Festival, architecture and great cuisine.
Source: Prosper Agbenyega