MUSTAFA HASSANALI THE PAN-AFRICAN DESIGNER
Tanzanian Mustafa Hassanali is a medical doctor who began fashion designing as a hobby in 1999. Hoyce Temu wore one of his first creations and was crowned Miss Tanzania that same year, wearing his signature evening gown. This initial hobby has turned into a fully-fledged career for Mustafa who has shown his collections across Africa and outside the continent in promoting the Tanzanian fashion industry. His zest for fashion is not limited to fostering his own creations and offering something new to his target audience, but he is also concerned about the growth of the industry. In 2008, he launched the Swahili Fashion Week, which has created a promising platform for established designers and models, as well as emerging talent. This event has now become the largest fashion event in East and Central Africa. Hassanali was also appointed by the minister for information, youth, culture and sports as a member of the steering committee to search for the Tanzania national attire.
What adds a unique dimension to Hassanali’s brand is his cause célèbre on health matters. He supports various charities such as Breast Cancer Awareness and Violence against Women, and in Zanzibar he has also supported the Zanzibar Mental Hospital. His medical background has helped him in the establishing the brand Fashion 4 Health.
Hassanali has showcased his work in 31 cities across 21 countries, globally as an ambassador of Tanzanian fashion. He has had super models like Naomi Campbell modeling his outfits on international runways and is the only Tanzanian designer to be invited by Tanzania embassies in Sweden and Russia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tanzania Mainland and of The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 2011 and 2014 respectively. Hassanali has also been known to break the usual runway norm of using svelte, supposedly flawless models sending down ‘plus size’ and albino women down his ramp because of his belief that his clothes are for everyone. At the recently concluded South African Menswear Week in Cape Town, his 14th showcase in South Africa, he launched his Spring/Summer 2016/17 collection: SAND-SATIONAL SAADANI, which was inspired by the fascinating setting of beach-meets-bush.
According to Hassanali, “Saadani is the only park in East Africa with an Indian Ocean beachfront and the one place where those idle hours of sunbathing might be interrupted by an elephant strolling past, or animals coming to drink at the nearby waterhole. The whole idea of paradise in a jungle evokes emotions of tranquility, serenity woven with the wildness and free spiritedness that seeps through the collection. It has colorful ‘khangas’ inspired by the mainland flora and fauna and wilderness found in the Saadani Jungle with the breezy cotton organdy and the beach sand cotton and knits reflecting the sandy beaches of Saadani. Especially when the tidal and the tide go out a long way at low tide, revealing rock pools. The opportunity to walk for miles along deserted beaches does not present itself very often and is part of the allure of Saadani.”
Mustafa was recently named as one of Africa’s top ten male designers by UK’s New African Women and Kenya Airways’ Msafiri magazine named him Count of Couture. He is the only designer from East Africa to be featured in Forbes Africa magazine.
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