“To go back to tradition, is the first step forward” – African proverb

Stumbling upon unique cultural events such as the Malta International Runway Show, is one of the highlights of travel — especially when visiting a new destination.  I randomly booked a long weekend trip to Malta, a Mediterranean island located off of the southern coast of Italy, because I found a ridiculously cheap flight on Skyscanner.  


A round trip ticket from Rome for 33 euros and the idea of a sunny beach getaway in October was too hard to resist!  The trip provided endless landscape and architecture photography inspiration and the opportunity to spend an evening among West African artists and designers who are passionate about improving their local communities.      


Just days before the trip, the Maltese Embassy in Rome hosted a Postcards from Paradise photo exhibit which showcased images of quotidian life by Duska Malesevic.  Then, in a lucky coincidence, I discovered that Simpli International would organize a fusion fashion and art runway event in Malta during my trip. 

Malta International Runway Show


Simpli International’s Bruno Eke brought together European models, international photographers, and West African designers and artists for the Malta International Runway Show.  Photographer and artist Agbese Philip Junior of Redemption Studios provided vibrant original canvas art that served as colorful backdrops for the stylish designs.  


The event promoted both traditional Nigerian designs as well as modern fusion dresses, jumpsuits and tops that can be thrown together with jeans for a night on the town.  The designs highlighted hand-dyed batik, traditional West African prints, and other traditional embroidered fabrics.     


Hand-crafted jewelry and accessories accentuated the looks.  The event included stalls to purchase items directly from the designers and organizations such as Haven for Rehabilitation and Re-Integration Foundation, which provide economic opportunities to former prisoners, widows, street children, and internally displaced populations.   


I picked up the perfect batik skirt for my New Year’s trip to India and may have splurged on a sparkly blue necklace (my personal kryptonite!). 


Strong social messages, including the migration crisis in the Mediterranean and the role of women in Africa, resonated from Philip Agbese Junior’s colorful canvases.