For Kevan Halls Spring 2008 collection he chose to lift Africa and take it to the catwalk. He says the line named 'Africa: A Safari' was inspired by the Dinka, Masai and Zulu tribes. Beautiful stuff (obviously) but one or two pieces look like he just took their traditional attire and plonked it on the runway, there is no way he can say he designed that!
The Backes & Strauss watch company as you now know it was actually begun by an Ethiopian? Now you can be all that much prouder when you adorn yourself with one of their fine watches. Check out the history below:
Article by Victoria Gomelsky
When Vartkess Knadjian was growing up in Ethiopia in the 1960s, during the later years of Haile Selassie's reign, he would sometimes accompany his father on formal visits to the Imperial Palace. As official watchmaker and supplier to the court, Antranig Knadjian had rare access to the emperor, who claimed descent from the biblical King Solomon and is still venerated as God incarnate in the Rastafari faith.
"The emperor had a weakness for watches," the younger Knadjian recalls. "Because my father was a procurer of one of his favorite things, he was always welcome in the palace."
Born to Armenian immigrants in Ethiopia in 1915, the elder Knadjian had arrived in Geneva on the eve of World War II and graduated top of his class from the École d'Horlogerie in 1941. Determined to return to Addis Ababa, he boarded a boat for Djibouti, only to be diverted to Madagascar for a wartime two-year stay. Soon after he finally arrived home, "the emperor summoned him to the palace and encouraged him" to nurture his talent, Knadjian says. Nearly 30 years of service to the court followed, ending only when Selassie was overthrown by a Marxist coup in 1974.
Then a student at the London School of Economics, Vartkess could not return to Ethiopia; the uprising had driven his parents to Canada. On a friend's suggestion, he applied to Backes & Strauss, a diamond company founded in Germany in 1789 and established in London since 1814.
What was planned to be a six-month stint at Backes & Strauss's office in Antwerp, hub of the diamond trade, stretched into decades until, after his father's death in 2002, Knadjian orchestrated a buyout of the company.
The time had come to combine his dual passions, and bring his father's legacy full circle. Knadjian searched for a watchmaking partner, and found one in Vartan Sirmakes, a fellow product of the Armenian Diaspora and the chief executive of the Franck Muller Group, of Geneva. Their collaboration has produced the diamond-studded Backes & Strauss watch collection, brought to market in November 2006.
Another designer I hold very dear is Ade Bakare. We've also done a lot of work together in the past. Ade's couture clothing is also fantastic and very well made. He has a subtle jazziness he adds to his designs that just makes them stand out. Check him out.
Kosibah... This designer is especially close to my heart as I've known him for quite a while and we've done a lot of work together. Yemi creates couture garments that show ladies off in just the right way (curves in all the right places). He is lauded for his attention to detail and his customer care is top notch. He will ensure you are completely satisfied with your garment and will even come to help you get ready on the day. His bridal gowns are exquisite and his evening wear is to die for... he's just the best.
Jewel By Lisa, one of my personal favourites, established in 2005 by Lisa Folawiyo. She creates hand embellished bejeweled ankara pieces and her inspiration for each piece comes from the piece of material she is working on ensuring each product is unique and special in it's own JBL way.
Nigerian Born Lola Faturoti began her label after Barbara Weiser President of New York's trendy Charivari noticed her fabulously unique sense of style and helped her launch her first collection (lucky girl!) She's been moving forward in leaps and bounds ever since even managing to gain recognition as one of the "Best in America" by Amy Spindler of the New York Times Magazine.
Lola says "my woman doesn't have to be pretty or sexy, nor is she superficial, she is a woman who loves both her faults and her strengths."
So ladies I guess it's just icing on the cake that you are all so very pretty and sexy then lol!
I can totally see some of you in these so check her out.
She also does jewelry but I'm just recommending the clothing...
Sungoddess is an old and well known South African label especially popular for their ever present corsets. They have been around for about seven years and are a leading name in the South African fashion industry.
They design both mens and women's clothing and are in the process of coming out with a range for children too.
Emmy Colins whose clothing line is tres funky and ultra chic is a mens wear designer like no other.
His outfits call to mind musicians like Lenny Kravits, Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye and Jimmy Hendrix and he doesn't believe in following trends as he chooses instead to make his own *a man after my own heart*.
This is a treasure I've been holding onto for a while now...
Sika designs, a fabulously cultured clothing label that imbibes Africa's rich and colorful printed textile heritage. I love the way she crafts out pieces that allow the vibrant fabrics to really come to life. Ooo I'm so excited to be sharing her with you all.
Sources tell me we can expect to find a Sika store on our shores sometime in the not so distant future but shhh... it's a CSA secret.
This week I have been falling madly in love with the designs of South African Designer Nkhensani Nkhosi's design house Stoned Cherrie all over again. Her outfits all have a touch of her native South African heritage and merge traditional attire supremely with modern contemporary styles.
Stoned Cherrie whose 'vision is to become a premier African brand pioneering a cultural revolution in Africa' Is taking the African fashion industry by storm with their cutting edge designs and timeless pieces.
Check them out at www.stonedcherrie.co.za
Their frames and shades are available at the Eye Emporium in the Accra Mall so hurry over for your piece of Cherry pie!
As you all know, or at least ought to know by now, I have been working on 'CultureShock' for a while now. What is 'Culture Shock'?
CultureShock is aimed at being a boutique/show room housing the best of Africa's latest, hottest, trend savvyest about to be big or already quite well known designers out there. As well as some of my own designs and Afro-centric clothing accessories and other trinkets and treasures that I think you might all appreciate.
And to give you all a taster as to some of the sorts of things I would like to present you in the not so distant future I've set up this blog where I'll put up information on what's going on with CultureShock and some interesting things that I think you will all like or might be interested in seeing in the show room. So be sure to show you're interest in the things you particularly like so I can get cracking with bringing in all your favorites. :)