I found the fierceness I’d been craving at the Arise Magazine African Collective Fall 2010 show on Friday evening.  Now in its third season, Arise is the only showcase for African talent during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and is one of the week’s hottest events.

Deola Sagoe's fashion-forward designs were a highlight of the Arise show.

The sizzling spring 2010 presentation featured the meticulous, vibrant collections of four designers. This season’s show featured the creative work of three talented designers. And celebs like model Veronica Webb and flamboyant hairdresser, Dwight, from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” were sitting front-and-center to cheer them on.

Chanel Iman models for Black Coffee.

South African duo Jacques van der Watt and Danica Lepen of Black Coffee kicked off the presentation with an array of pleated and quilted coats and draped dresses in muted shades of rose, slate, putty, and flesh tones.  The collection was inspired by the simple lines of African masks and was strikingly modern.

Loin Cloth & Ashes' youthful and wearable collection.

Next was relative newcomer Anisa Mpungwe of Loin Cloth and Ashes.  The Tanzanian native’s collection was whimsical and showcased structured jackets with accentuated shoulders and sheer, striped silk dresses.

The best, however, was saved for last.  Nigeria’s Deola Sagoe‘s electrifying collection (first photo) featured strong silhouettes and strong models to match.  Her choice of music was tribal and the packed crowd applauded as Sagoe’s confident models flaunted their signature struts down the catwalk.

The designer was inspired by East African Maasai and 18th century European military uniforms. And Rihanna would love Sagoe’s modern, fashion-forward designs typified by ripped leggings, slim-fit trousers, and long evening gowns paired with geometric accessories. Sagoe received the evening show’s only standing ovation.

At each Arise show I attend, I feel a sense of cultural pride that no other Fashion Week show can duplicate. After Sagoe took her victory walk down the runway, I got a little teary-eyed.

Image credit: Image.net