The event wrapped Sunday with a final show drenched in glamour, showcasing whatâ€™s hot from Mali to Equatorial Guinea to Ivory Coast this season.
African prints are currently inspiring big names from Beyonce to Burberry, with the iconic British brandâ€™s 2012 collection shot through with bright printed batik material. Singer and designer Gwen Stefani also adopted the theme in 2011.
Designers in Dakar, such as US-based Senegalese Yolande Mancini, were on the pulse with her red dress with batik shoulders and gold dress with bright printed cape.
Malian designer Maria Bakhoumâ€™s collection was in earthy tones with the traditional Bogolan mudcloth while Equatorial Guineaâ€™s Alfredo Monsuy mixed satin and silk with traditional wax prints.
From Moroccoâ€™s Meryem Boussikouk â€“ a collection of modern kaftans in â€œhot African coloursâ€ and contemporary cuts.
But, being an African designer isnâ€™t all about ethnic prints as Ivorian Patrick Asso showed with his all blue collection.
â€œThere are African designers doing beautiful things which are not African,â€ said Almamy Lo, the artistic director responsible for choosing the designers.
Organizer Adama Paris, a former model and now a designer, began the event nine years ago despite massive challenges and no government support in the west African nation.
â€œI really think that there is a market, there is an audience. People love fashion in Africa, they buy it. I dont know why it isnâ€™t structured. I sell, people sell, but we donâ€™t have distribution channels so everybody just sells where we can,â€ she told AFP.
â€œThe most difficult thing is showing your designs.â€
There is no venue in Dakar for an event like this and organizers are forced to hold shows in restaurants and hotels.
The budget was cut this year as the financial crisis discouraged sponsors and the event got off to a rocky start with a silent opening night as the countryâ€™s copyright bureau shut off the music claiming their fee had not been paid.
Despite the difficulties Paris presses ahead with her dream.
â€œWe have so much talent. They just need a push,â€ she said, stressing that one should not underestimate the African fashionista.
â€œEven the girl who lives in a village goes to the hairdresser once a month at least,â€ Paris said.
But like many of the designers, her biggest challenge is getting Africans to buy local, with European designers and brand names still the most coveted.
â€œRight now it is the time of African fashion and fabric. It is colorful and itâ€™s something different. We want to show a different Africa, not just war and death that the west shows, but a bit of glamour.â€ â–