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Ethiopian former supermodel successfully runs an African prominent runway  for a charity cause   

Zela Gayle

Acclaimed Ethiopian Supermodel, Anna Getaneh, was born in Sweden to Ethiopian diplomatic parents and had built her career modelling for several renowned fashion designers during the 1990’s.

Within the last two decades, Anna Getaneh has grown form a mere supermodel whose appearances graced world class runways from Paris to Milan and who modelled for giant names like Yves Saint Laurent, to a Creative Director of her own fashion label and manager of her own initiative, African Mosaique, which she founded in South Africa in 2005 as a nonprofits initiative to raise funds to build a school in Aleltu, 55 km north of Addis Ababa, for destitute Ethiopian children.

Founder of the Ethiopian Children’s Fund, (ECF), Anna Getaneh opened the school, known as the Children’s’ Village, in 1999 with 18 students. Today it boasts a roll call of 600 students from primary to pre -university level as supermodel Anna continued working tirelessly for African Mosaique to raise funds to run the school. In 2011the school has produced its first batch of 18 students out of the 21 who sat for their national school leaving exams in 2010;two of the 18 passed their exams with distinction. Today the school has its own health clinic, environmental programs and a feeding centre.

From A to B, with beauty and purpose
15 years ago African Mosaique was just a platform to showcase a yearly event of ‘fashion week’ portraying African designers who produce from little known collection of traditional costumes to high-end contemporary designs. With it Anna was creating opportunities for African fashion designers by helping them showcase in large fashion cities such as Paris, New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, DC.

A model showcasing Wetive Nkosi’s design at the opening day of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa organized by African Fashion International/AFI, in Johannesburg, South Africa, in Oct. 2012.

Through time, Anna felt there was a much needed platform to illustrate what was really being produced in Africa from designers in many African countries including her parents’ native land Ethiopia. Within the last 15 years, a number of other platforms for African designers have followed suit but African Mosaique kept on directing its focuses from mere fashion shows to the development of the African collectives, giving training and mentoring programs for designers and creating opportunities for African designers to learn how best to market their products worldwide. And over the past four years, Anna has developed her own collection of timeless pieces illustrating African prints and fabrics from textiles she discovered during her regular travels to the continent.

In An exclusive interview with this magazine, Anna, who is now residing in Addis Ababa, said, “I’m most interested in silhouettes of well-tailored suits, [and] cocktail dresses using woven fabrics in their natural form.”

African Mosaique gala at home  
African Mosaique has finalized preparations for what is expected to be a spectacular fashion show gala on Jan. 4, 2013 at The Sheraton Addis.

The event will feature nine designers including renowned designers Shaldon Kopman, and Wetive Nkosi from South Africa and Taibo Bacar from Mozambique. In addition, well known Ethiopian designers such as Mafi, Mela, MESHKI Ethiopia, Urban Roots Eco Couture, YeFikir Design and Yohannes Sisters’ Couture will be featured with an exciting line up of international guest models such as Huguette Marara from Rwanda, Percina Manjate from Mozambique, Laimi Mondjila from Namibia, and Letshego Melesi and Priyeshka Lutchman both from South Africa. Participants have all pledged to donate their time in support of Anna’s brainchild, Ethiopian Children’s Fund.

Speaking to this magazine, South Africa’s emerging designer Wetive Nkosi said she was looking forward to showing her collection for the first time in Ethiopia. Describing her best known design, Wetive says,  “It is a dress inspired by a trumpet made from tiedyed fabric. My collection is called Modern African Stage and this dress is flexible for all seasons.”
The show is partially underwritten by two sponsors; Ethiopian Airlines and Sheraton Addis, both of whom helped in bringing together the greatest display of distinguished African designers at the African Mosaique 2013 event.
Anna says she has come home to Ethiopia to fulfil her life-long ambition of establishing a designing centre in Ethiopia to continue to expand her access to the international market of African fabrics.

With her prolific background of modelling and of entrepreneurial skill, we can be sure her project will be a shining light for the future of the industry in Ethiopia.

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