On the opening day of London Fashion Week, Paramount brought a slice of its popular film franchise Coming To America to the catwalk with an event aimed at celebrating and amplifying Black creatives and designers, including The House of Nubian, Kwame Koranteng, Good Mela and Goodman Factory.
The catwalk showcase was inspired by Paramount Pictures Coming to America film franchise starring Eddie Murphy, to celebrate African culture and high fashion, with designers Sania Daniel from The House of Nubian and Kwame Koranteng offering up womenswear and menswear looks that characters in the film would wear.
Mark Kingston, SVP international licensing at Paramount Global, told FashionUnited: “This project was two years in the making, as part of our company’s efforts to bring new and creative talents into our products, as well as appeal more to a broader demographic of our fans and consumers. We thought that all the rich culture and fashion designs in Coming To America would provide an authentic backdrop to promote and support up-and-coming diverse designers and businesses.
“Coming to America and Paramount provides a real platform to give opportunities to these amazing designers and Black-owned companies that they wouldn’t necessarily get, in a fun way that resonates back to our product.”
The House of Nubian and Kwame Koranteng showcase during LFW
The movie Coming to America offers up opulence and bold fashion inspired by African culture and that came across in the haute couture showcase from both designers, alongside powerful musical and dance performances.
The House of Nubian, inspired by the “richness, excellence and strength of Black culture,” opened up proceedings with a collection of elegant gowns, jumpsuits and separates designed for the Queens and Princesses of Zamunda, fusing African, British and Middle Eastern styles.
“I designed this collection especially for Coming to America, inspired by Princess Nikka, as I love her character, she shows grace, strength, skill, patience, wisdom, and humility, all wrapped up in beauty and elegance,” explained Sania Daniel, designer and founder of The House of Nubian. “Most of my pieces are inspired by that, through my silhouettes and use of African prints, alongside some showstopping pieces that focus on the Queen of the movie.”
Highlights included maxi dresses in bold and colourful African prints, alongside beaded elegant gowns, tiered asymmetrical skirts made in a traditional African Kitenge fabric, and stunning rope neck beaded designs handmade by Maasai women.
Daniel added: “Working on this collaboration has allowed me to share the vision of The House of Nubian and the beauty of African prints. I want people to feel beautiful and confident when they wear my designs.”
Following the womenswear was a collection designed for Coming to America’s Akeem and Semmi, with stylish menswear from designer Kwame Koranteng, which infused traditional Saville Row tailoring with African influences.
Kwame Koranteng, founder and creative director of Kwame Koranteng Design, said: “Since childhood, I have loved Coming to America and to have the opportunity to design a collection inspired by this iconic movie was a little overwhelming and amazing at the same time.
“I got so much inspiration from the film, but also with my African background, I also wanted to include something from Nigeria to South Africa, as when you watch the movie every single country is in there, and I wanted that to come through in my collection.”
Designs that stood out included elegant dinner jackets in bold colourways, luxurious fabrics and prints, as well as suits draped in faux fur, and looks inspired by the uniforms of fictional fast-food restaurant McDowell’s, with a similar tartan crafted on everything from waistcoats to capes.
“When I was creating the collection, I didn’t want to go for a replica look in red tartan, I wanted to put a little twist on it, and that’s when I came up with the cape, and when I did the fittings with the models everyone really loved it," added Koranteng.
Paramount’s Coming to America provides an LFW platform for emerging Black designers and businesses
Along with fashion, the event also placed a spotlight on Black-owned health and beauty brands who also launched Coming to America-inspired collections, including GoodMela, a cosmetics company advocating for inclusive and ethical beauty, and Goodman Factory, a British male beauty brand standing for male mental health.
Mela Haughton, founder and director of Good Mela, said: “When Paramount approached me to take part, I was intrigued about infusing my Jamaican culture, which runs through my brand, into the film Coming to America, which is African inspired, but it allowed me to push my boundaries.
“We did a lot of line work inspired by the tribal elements and it was loud. You don’t often see full glam on the runway. Traditionally on the runway, it’s about the skincare, the gloss skin, things that you can’t achieve. That’s not me, I’ve got reproductive dysfunction, I've got hormonal acne, I get hyperpigmentation. I am not perfect. So, I wanted it to be an authentic representation, so, I created products which I really feel embrace the movie, but also embraced what I do.”
While the showcase was fun and creative, from the fashion to the hair and beauty, Paramount were also keen to stress that this was much more than just a showcase to promote the Coming to America franchise, but a chance for the company to give support and share emerging designers and brands.
Kingston added: “This isn’t just about fashion inspired by the film, we have also been working with all the designers on understanding the world of licensing, educating them through the whole process from getting designs approved to understanding loyalties, and how to make sure you don’t infringe trademarks.
“We recognise that the power of our brands, franchises and overall company can provide people with a platform and give them a leg up in the industry, and this event was about giving them exposure and a voice that didn’t have previously.”