ATA Fashion Parade made its debut in Arusha, Tanzania
by Jerry W. Bird
The first of what has become an popular annual affair at every ATA sponsored Congress or Symposium, was held at the Impala Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania in 1998. The organizers, Chief Margaret Fabiyi (right) and Helen Broadus, didn't use the usual bevy of pouty, long-legged pencil slim models; ATA members became the stars as a group of ten or twelve ladies and guys exhibited an eye-popping array of fashion finery. Peter Janssen of Inter-Continental Hotels and Gaynelle Henderson Bailey (below) showcase an attractive black & gold combination. ATA's first Fashion Show represented a cultural mix of Eastern, Western and Southern African textiles and creations.
Africans are painting the world in a kaleidoscope of bold, eye-catching colors and patterns, and it's become contagious. For the past 5 years, an African "Fashion Parade" has enhanced the Annual ATA International Congress. At the ATA Congress in Addis Ababa, there were fashion shows on two of the special evenings arranged by the host committee. At the Addis Hilton, I was prompted to get into the act, and was on stage at an event sponsored by Webisco of Nigeria, again featuring the styles of Chief Margaret Fabiyi. At Africa Travel Magazine's office in the trendy Gastown area of Vancouver, Canada, our staff and volunteers wear African caps and tops most of the time and are proud of it. At trade shows, special events and conventions we usually go all out.
Unlike in North America, fashion in Tanzania and most of the continent is a universal expression. The African look has no size, height, weight or age barrier; it's everyone's domain. Guys, throw away your drab, boring grays and step into a creation that will make your day and light up your night. As the Gillette jingle used to say, look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp! Another point in favor of African clothing; it's built for comfort, each piece makes a unique statement and is worn with pride. We've seen hundreds of delegates and guests dressed to the nines, yet like snowflakes, no two outfits are exactly alike. Dressed in her African finery,
Elyse White of ATA New York Chapter was belle of the ball; few would believe she is past 90. In Africa, she has found her own "fountain of youth" reflected by an upbeat attitude. In our opinion, Travel and fashion go together like bananas and cream. The "Upbeat African look" is not limited to evening wear or special events, it's expressed in a variety of ways. For instance our photo of delegates on safari makes its own point; you can look your best on the desert or Savannah, just as you can at a convention or cocktail party.
Group from US East Coast Chapters at the gala Awards Night,
ATA 26th congress, Cape Town.