The first Black Carpet awards planned for February’s Milan Fashion Week – WWD

MILAN – The Italian Afro Fashion Association kicks off the inaugural edition of the Black Carpet Awards during Milan Fashion Week in February, from February 22 to 28.

The association, which has been promoting diversity, equality and inclusion since 2015 and highlighting talent from different backgrounds with an original focus on the African continent, will host a gala on February 22 at a still undisclosed venue, where 10 awards in five categories will be presented to 10 leaders of change belonging to underrepresented communities.

“Throughout my career, I have encountered people and companies challenging perceptions and rewriting the history of DE&I in the country. I thought about celebrating them because celebrating is a form of representation that is fundamental,” said Michelle Francine Ngonmo, originator of the Afro Fashion Association and, together with designers Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan, the force behind We Are Made in Italy, or the collective WAMI, which attended the recent Milan Fashion Week shows.

The Afro Fashion Association boasts a database of 3,000 professionals and talents that have been shortlisted for 25 finalists. An international jury will select 10 winners in five categories: culture, heritage, creativity, community and entrepreneurship. Speaking of the latter category, Ngonmo stressed that “diversity is often taken as charity, when in fact it is also the engine of wealth,” she said.

This groundbreaking edition will focus on Italian personalities, companies and associations active in the fashion, design, food, music, sports and cinema industries, among others, who have contributed to establishing new cultural and entrepreneurial paradigms in the country, but Ngonmo’s ambition is to expand the reach international events.

The event will include a video projection of a tribute video to the late Virgil Abloh, a longtime supporter of the association’s work and Ngonmo.

The project is the result of constant conversations with other like-minded professionals who have been drawn to the Afro Fashion Association over the years.

In addition to Buchanan and Jean, Ngonmo brought in social media personality Tamu McPherson; art and fashion curator and digital art specialist Gloria Maria Cappelletti; Jordan Anderson, Milanese journalist and creative director behind the digital project My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness or MQBMBQ; art director Macs Iotti; Ghanaian-born, Italian-based designer Nana Brenu, as well as Vogue Italia editorial chief Francesca Ragazzi and Nss founder and CEO Walter D’Aprile.

“Diversity is about sitting around the table and discussing to challenge the representation of marginalized communities,” said Ngonmo. “I hope this project breaks down walls and barriers and helps you understand the importance of bonding and working together to write DE&I’s story,” she noted.

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