The first Black Carpet Awards are scheduled for Milan Fashion Week in February – WWD

MILAN — The Italian Afro Fashion Association launches the first edition of the Black Carpet Awards during Milan Fashion Week in February, from February 22 to 28.

The association promoting diversity, equity and inclusion since 2015 and highlighting talents from different backgrounds with an original focus on the African continent will organize a gala on February 22 in an as yet unknown location, where 10 awards in five categories will be awarded to 10 change leaders from underrepresented communities.

“Throughout my career, I have met people and companies who are challenging the perception and rewriting the history of DE&I in the country. I thought of celebrating them, because celebration is a form of representation which is fundamental,” said Michelle Francine Ngonmo, the brains of the Afro Fashion Association and, along with designers Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan, the force behind We Are Made in Italy, or the WAMI collective, which has participated in recent shows from Milan Fashion Week.

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

The focus of the flagship edition will be on Italian personalities, companies and associations active in fashion, design, food, music, sport and cinema, among other fields, who have contributed to establishing new cultural and entrepreneurial paradigms in the country, but Ngonmo’s ambition is to expand the reach of the event internationally.

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

The project is the result of ongoing 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 has involved social media personality Tamu McPherson; art and fashion curator and digital art expert Gloria Maria Cappelletti; Jordan Anderson, journalist and creative director based in Milan behind the digital project My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness or MQBMBQ; artistic director Macs Iotti; Ghanaian-born, Italy-based designer Nana Brenu, as well as editorial content manager at Vogue Italia Francesca Ragazzi and Nss founder and CEO Walter D’Aprile.

“Diversity is about sitting around a table and talking to challenge representation,” of marginalized communities, Ngonmo said. “I hope this project will break down walls and barriers and help people understand the importance of connecting and working together to write the story of DE&I,” she noted.

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