Category Archives: Diva Hot Fashion Trots

Meet The Fashion Designer Who Escaped A Civil War In Sierra Leone To Launch A Contemporary Fashion Label In The UK That Is Set To Change The World


Born in the Eastern town of Kono, Sierra Leone Isatu Harrison was raised by her entrepreneurial single mother with her 3 siblings. Whilst living in Kono, civil war broke out which put her community in danger. Her entire family had to escape from the civil war in Kono and moved to the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown.


Despite being uprooted from her family home, Isatu had a happy upbringing and knew that there was much more to Sierra Leone than the war which seemed to define it at the time. She grew up watching her mother design outfits for herself and others using traditional West African tie-dyed prints. In a country with no welfare system, Isatu’s mother worked hard to ensure that her family did not have to struggle and Isatu hails her mother as her biggest inspiration and influence. Despite there being very few opportunities, particularly within the fashion industry in Sierra Leone, Isatu was encouraged to pursue her purpose and developed her gifts as a fashion designer.
Although her passion for fashion was still at the forefront of her mind, when Isatu arrived in The UK in 2001 she studied a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at South Bank University and subsequently an MBA.  The corporate world overshadowed the creative world and Isatu undertook a number of management roles in HR within the private and public sectors – including Transport for London.


After starting a family with her husband, and having a daughter who now has a budding career in modelling, Isatu could no longer ignore her true calling; fashion. She invested her savings and started her own fashion label, Izelia which interweaves the two cultural landscapes of Britain and Sierra Leone.


Isatu officially launched Izelia at Africa Fashion Week in August 2014 and London Fashion Week in the same year. By drawing from her Sierra Leonean heritage Isatu has created a modern and sophisticated range of ready to wear pieces. Izelia is a brand for those who want to make an impression in stylish and colourful outfits with high quality fabrics and structured tailoring. Each piece features a new twist on African-inspired fashion and Isatu’s own signature style of design.
By combining colourful African tie-dye and prints, Izelia brings a taste of Sierra Leone to the British high street. Having seen the impact that civil war can make on communities, Isatu wants to be at the forefront of a new generation of ‘AfriCapitalists’ – African entrepreneurs driving growth, awareness and development in Africa, through marketing and selling the best that Africa has to offer.

Isatu opened a boutique last Winter (2016)  in East London where she organises training programmes and apprenticeships opportunities for immigrants / first generation citizens in fashion design.


“I intend to inspire and assist women in rural Sierra Leone, be a voice for these women and young creatives. Whilst the brand is becoming well entrenched in the UK, as an African, I feel I have a role to play in the economic development of my continent. Through Izelia, I wish to invest long-term in Sierra Leone’s private sector and I am interested in developing manufacturing, as well as production factories and establishing additional outlets in Africa. I am proud to be among a growing crop of entrepreneurs who are creating employment opportunities and bringing economic growth to our countries across Africa” – Isatu Harrison

Isatu is set to take the fashion industry by storm in the UK, Sierra Leone and across the world.

 

By: Ronke Lawal

Fashion Cities Africa

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Brighton, UK

30 April 2016 to 8 January 2017

The first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion will open at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in April 2016.

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Exploring fashion and style in four cities at the compass points of the African continent – Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa – Fashion Cities Africa will consider recent and contemporary fashion practices in these distinctive metropoles, from couture to street style.

Designs by Marianne Fassler,  photographed by-Simon Deiner SDR
Designs by Marianne Fassler, photographed by-Simon Deiner SDR

The exhibition will focus on the style choices of individual ‘fashion agents’ from each city; from designers and stylists to photographers and bloggers. Helen Mears, the Museum’s Keeper of World Art, Martin Pel, its Curator of Fashion & Textiles, Africa fashion specialists Hannah Azieb Pool and Helen Jennings and researcher Harriet Hughes visited the cities in summer 2015* to explore their fashion scenes and identify key players.

FCA3

Helen Mears says: “There’s been a surge of interest in contemporary African art and design in Europe and the US in recent years, but this is the first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion.  We want to reveal the diversity that exists across the continent – and within single cities – and show that wax print is only part of the story of African fashion.

“Each of the cities featured has its own fashion scene: in some cases emergent, in others more established. Some African designers are now major players in international fashion, while others are experimenting creatively in the interface between global fashion and local identities.

“The exhibition aims to provide a snapshot of fashion practices in four specific cities and an introduction to some of the stories behind the style, whether it’s the widespread practice of tailoring or the impact of the huge market for second-hand European clothes.”

The exhibition will occupy three large galleries and include diverse apparel from couture to street style, alongside images, film, sound and even a reconstructed tailor’s workshop evoking the drama, creativity and dynamism of the distinctive cities.  Highlights will include:

New commissions, including by Nairobi-based brother and sister duo 2Many Siblings  

(http://2manysiblings.tumblr.com/)

Controversial high-fashion outfits worn by one of Kenya’s hottest bands, Sauti Sol (MTV Europe’s Best African Act 2014)

Garments and accessories associated with The Sartists, a Johannesburg-based creative collective documenting their lives and style in post-apartheid South Africa (https://instagram.com/thesartists)

Exquisite hand-crafted ‘caftan couture’ pieces by Casablanca-based designer Zhor Raïs

Apparel by Maki Oh (TBC), the internationally acclaimed Lagos-based label worn by figures including Michele Obama

A parallel project, undertaken by members of some of Brighton & Hove’s African diaspora communities, will explore the relationship between fashion, identity and the African continent from a local perspective. Powerful images from the project, which will be co-ordinated by Sarah Naomi Lee, will accompany the exhibition.

Fashion Cities Africa is part of the wider project Fashioning Africa, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Collecting Cultures programme – which supports strategic collecting projects for museums, libraries and archives.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery already holds an important collection of historical African textiles, mostly gathered 1880-1940.  Thanks to National Lottery players,Fashioning Africa will research recent developments and establish an African textile and fashion collection representing 1960-2000.  Running until 2017, the project has appointed a collecting panel from BAME and fashion communities, and will be delivered in partnership with the University of Brighton and the Sussex Africa Centre at the University of Sussex.

Fashion Cities Africa will also be accompanied by a book of the same name, edited by Hannah Azieb Pool with contributions by Helen Jennings (Intellect, 2016, £20).  This will showcase street styles in the four cities through images of their fashion agents by high-profile fashion photographers (Sarah Waiswa, Victor Dlamini, Deborah Benzaquen and Lakin Ogunbanwo), accompanied by profiles and essays.

By Ronke Lawal

Chelsea Paris Collaborates With Jean-Pierre Braganza

Loved her at first sight…well at least her collection ;-), but could switch camps if I can get my dainty paws on her Ada Bronze/Gold shoes, aptly named after yours truly ;-). OK, stretched the truth there a bit, but my first name is Ada.

Ada Bronze/Gold shoes
Ada Bronze/Gold shoes

According to the gorgeous diva herself – Theresa Ebagua, her luxury footwear is inspired by her African heritage and passion for creating unique, immaculately-constructed shoes. We loved her in issue 10 DivaScribe see image below and are totally made-up about her brands collaboration with Jean-Pierre Braganza.

DivaScribe ISSUE 10 Featuring Chelsea Paris
DivaScribe ISSUE 10 Featuring Chelsea Paris
Chelsea Paris Collaborates With Jean-Pierre Braganza
Chelsea Paris Collaborates With Jean-Pierre Braganza
Theresa Ebagua (Chelsea Paris)
Theresa Ebagua (Chelsea Paris)

London’s Diverse Creative Landscape To Be Celebrated In New Exhibition In Greenwich Peninsula

Vanessa-coore4

NOW Gallery announces that it will celebrate London’s diverse creative landscape in a new cross-cultural installation, Home Affairs, running 20th August – 4 September 2015.

The exhibition is a collaboration between furniture designer Yinka Ilori, fashion designer Christine Mhando of London-based CHiCHiA and creative consultant Arieta Mujay. Together they will create four theatrical, visually compelling conceptual spaces, brought to life with curated film, archival footage and performance. Framed by the language of traditional Nigerian & Swahili parables, the spaces will be filled with thought-provoking furniture, indigenous plants, designed objects, garments and wallpapers inspired by bespoke Khanga textiles, with visitors encouraged to navigate and explore.

The installation will be further enlivened with illustrations by Lulu Kitololo and spoken word performances by Project Tribe’s Bazaar •{Bohemian}•

More On The Creatives…

Yinka Ilori is a London based designer. He specialises in up-cycling vintage furniture, inspired by the traditional Nigerian parables and African fabrics that surrounded him as child. He has exhibited internationally in solo shows: This Is Where It Started, The Whitespace Gallery, Lagos, October, 2014; Yinka Ilori, Just Africa, Stockholm March 2014 and It Started With a Parable, Jaguar Shoes, London in collaboration with London Design Week, December, 2013. And group exhibitions: Making Africa, Vitra Design Museum, Basel, March, 2015 touring to Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Autumn 2015; Africa Calling, Africa Utopia, Southbank Centre, September 2014; Creative Britain feature stand, British European Design Group, International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), New York May 2012. Yinka Ilori’s pieces are available for purchase here, at lifestyle stores in London and at Temple Muse, Nigeria and can be viewed by appointment at his East London studio.

Yinka Ilori2
Yinka Ilori

 

Yinka Ilori
Yinka Ilori

Christine Mhando is a Tanzanian-born, London-based designer. Mhando launched the label that bears her childhood nickname, CHiCHiA, in 2007, an amalgamation of both continents and cultures from which the designer was born and raised. The label’s signature transpires from the artful application of the ‘Khanga’, a traditional East African cotton-printed fabric used by local women as wraps. With Beyonce as a fan, Chichia goes from strength to strength as an international African brand that modernises and transforms traditional East African textiles into stylish, contemporary and considered fashionable attire.

Christine Mhando
Christine Mhando

Arieta Mujay is a fashion creative who has been working in fashion at various capacities for 15 years across the UK and Africa. Arieta has styled and worked a host of celebrities including Rihanna, Kelis, Amber Le Bon, Kelly Rowland, Alesha Dixon, Pixie Lott and Lily Allen. Mujay is a reviewer and contributor for Cosmopolitan Magazine’s online platform, a mentor to young businesses and an avid supporter of female empowerment.

Arieta Mujay
Arieta Mujay
Arieta Mujay
Arieta Mujay

Bazaar •{Bohemian}• (Vanessa Coore) is originally from California and is currently based out of Atlanta. Coore, one half of Afropolitan blog duo Project Tribe, uses her social media platforms to provide creative nourishment, spread #PositiveLoveEnergy, and highlight new and developed brands from all over the world. Through her social media platforms she’s been able to offer distinct and creative visuals that tell stories through a bohemian inspired lifestyle. Her goal when featuring brands is to highlight them in a unique, and aspirational way.

 

Bazaar •{Bohemian}• Vanessa Coore
Bazaar •{Bohemian}• Vanessa Coore
Bazaar •{Bohemian}• Vanessa Coore
Bazaar •{Bohemian}• Vanessa Coore

NOW Gallery, conceived as part of the on-going regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula, sits within a hub designed by architects Marks Barfield moments from the O2 and North Greenwich station. The hub, formed of two curved glass pavilions linked by a patinated brass-edged canopy – longer than the wing span of an Airbus A380 – contains NOW Gallery, a cafe, restaurant, sky bar and charcuterie. As visitors emerge from North Greenwich tube station and look to the right they will see the pavilions, the art installations within and also through them to the Emirates cable car along a line of latitude.

Tina Lobondi Showcases At We Are Africa Fashion Extravaganza

DESIGNER: TINA LOBONDI
DESIGNER: TINA LOBONDI
Tina Lobondi
Tina Lobondi

The Department of Arts & Culture, as part of its Africa Month Festival, hosted  the We Are Africa Fashion Extravaganza on 27 May 2015. Appointing African Fashion International (AFI), the leading fashion promotions company in Africa, to coordinate the Fashion Extravaganza. The event, held at the Museum of African Design in the fashionable and culturally diverse Maboneng area in Johannesburg, featured fashion designers from across the continent.

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Tina Lobondi
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Tina Lobondi

The evening celebrated the style, design and heritage of the African continent. Showcasing designers include Taibo Bacar (Mozambique), ARAPAPA at Santa Anzo (Uganda), Sindiso Khumalo (South Africa), Alphadi (Niger), Sophie Zinga (Senegal), Tina Lobondi (DRC), Kiko Romeo (Kenya) and MaXhosa by Laduma Ngxokolo (South Africa). Garments, rooted in African heritage and re-imagined in a global context, were showcased on a runway, worn by models from South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and the DRC.

Tina Lobondi
Tina Lobondi
Tina Lobondi
Tina Lobondi

Fashion and clothing is a central aspect of cultural identity. In further celebrating this, guests were be given the unique opportunity to view a fashion exhibition of garments created by The Carnival Company – in conjunction with the Department of Arts and Culture – as part of We Are Africa Month celebrations. These garments are inspired by the diverse African heritage, particularly African masquerade and carnival attire.

Tina Lobondi
Tina Lobondi

The evening’s event was held together by Master of Ceremonies Gaetano Kagwa, a Ugandan media personality. Alongside the fashion showcase, Xhosa songstress Simphiwe Dana and spoken-word by poet Naima McClean, known as the First Lady of Urban Cool, performed, bringing together the evening’s celebration of African culture. Adding to the cultural experience of the night, Sanza Sandile (a Swaziland-born chef known as the ‘king of Yeoville’) served a “journey through African cuisine”, his take on Afro-fusion cooking with a modern twist.

Tina Lobondi
Tina Lobondi

The We Are Africa Fashion Extravaganza was part of the exciting programme for Africa Month that took place throughout the month of May. Africa Month is a festival of ideas and cultural exchange, organized by the Department of Arts & Culture. It provided a platform and network for conversations about the African continent. These will go beyond the challenges to successes experienced and a recommitment to work for the continued development and integration of the continent. The theme for this inaugural Africa Month, launched by the Minister of Arts & Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa at Freedom Park (Pretoria) on 1 April 2015, is We Are Africa – ‘Opening the doors of learning and culture to promote peace and friendship from Cape to Cairo’.

By Marica Quarsingh

VLISCO Lures With New Campaign Collection ‘SPLENDEUR’

This is a beautiful one from VLISCO – for the afro-centric diva who is sophisticated, feminine and loves to show the multi-faceted sides of her personality through her fashion choices.

With a splash of the grandiose and a pinch of drama, VLISCO lures us in again with their gorgeous wax print design and a divaliciously splendid fashion collabo* with Nigerian fashion designer Lanre da Silva. Lanre’s eponymous style oozes great artistry and a creative craftsmanship with her use and execution of embellishments.

Why we write this…We read the words WIN & FREE below. Read on and share  X.

 Splendeur

Take to the stage and shine

                                 

Welcome to Vlisco’s new collection ‘Splendeur’ – layer after layer of opulence, grandeur and feminine drama. With Vlisco’s new season’s fabric collection, women can become a vision of sophistication and pure splendour.

 The Splendeur Campaign. This season Vlisco speaks to every woman who wants to dress like a glamorous movie star. Whether she’s going to a ball, a party or just a romantic dinner, she will dazzle in the limelight. ‘Splendeur’ gives women the freedom to create an outfit that says so much about their glamorous spirit – encouraging them to make a dramatic entrance.

Embellished fashion inspiration. Extravagant embellishment is the spark for so many of Vlisco’s sartorial fashion inspirations this season. There are little sequins, pearlescent beads and hand-sculpted jewellery, created by cutting out the ornamental forms in their fabrics – all of which enhance, empower and compliment the fabrics.

Colour couture. The rich colours and bohemian nature of the Art Deco era was a key inspiration for Vlisco’s colour house this season, together with the fascinating properties of velvet and opulent jewels. The richness, confidence and beauty of each have been skilfully distilled into every design.

Collaboration with Lanre da Silva. As a famous fashion designer in Nigeria and beyond, Lanre’s style is rich in femininity and she uses a multitude of embellishments –the perfect match for this season’s ’Splendeur’ concept. It’s why Vlisco invited her to craft a glamorous garment for the campaign from their shimmering gold Limited Edition fabric. She also designed an unforgettable festive dress that people can win.

Designer Lanre da Silva at MTN Lagos Fashion and Design WQeek

Vlisco embellishments for free. With two fabrics of six yards, one of Limited Edition, clients will receive two Vlisco embellishments for free. Each one is beautifully hand-crafted by Vlisco and is an interpretation of the ornaments found in their fabrics – these embellishments can be used on a garment for added ‘Splendeur’ and grace. But that’s not all, the lucky woman with the winning scratch card (exclusively in Vlisco Boutiques, on www.vlisco.com/shop and participating points of sale from 18th November) will win the dress designed by Lanre da Silva and have it tailor-made for a perfect fit.

 

2 and 4 yard fabrics. These shorter lengths make it really easy for women to mix and match fabrics to create truly individual fashion statements. They’re available in 2 yards, 4 yards and pre-packs and can only be purchased from Vlisco Boutiques and at www.vlisco.com/shop.

 

A history worthy of remembrance. Since 1846, Vlisco has created striking textiles influencing the fashion landscape in West and Central Africa. These fabrics reflect true Dutch craftsmanship and are still known as ‘Hollandais’, from the French word for ‘Dutch’. In fact, Vlisco is the only brand creating authentic Dutch Wax fabrics recognised by their eye-catching design, vibrant colours and unique wax craquelé.

Vlisco, the true original, since 1846.

 

 

Transitioning Into A/W 2014…#BurberryProrsum Inspires…

An injection of colour into your wardrobe can really brighten up your transitional style. Work some mellow yellows into your colour palette and ease into autumn with uber chic stylish layers.  For the colder months, add colourful tights for a bit of quirk, personality and warmth. Inspired by Burberry Prorsum London Fashion Week A/W 2014 collection, I hope you like the styling x.

Get inspired, define, create & splurge.

BY Adaobi Iwenofu

As Seen At Burberry Prorsum London Fashion Week A/W 2014
SOPHIA WEBSTER
Riko cutout patent-leather sandals
£525

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD ANGLOMANIA
Renee felt-paneled leather jacket
£595

 

black Up Lipsticks in: no 17 Matte Finish & no 20 Matte Finish
HERVÉ VAN DER STRAETEN Hammered gold-plated necklace £365
HERVÉ VAN DER STRAETEN Hammered gold-plated necklace £365
MARNI
Gold-plated pyrite earrings
£250

TOPSHOP UNIQUE
High-rise pleated wool-twill culottes
£165
ZARA LEATHER CITY BAG WITH ZIP £89.99

KENYAN Model Malaika Firth Rocks In Vogue Japan Fashion Editorial

Check out 20 year old Kenyan model Malaika Firth in Vogue Japan fashion editorial ( July 2014), aptly titled called “The Fiesta of Solitude”.

Looking divalicious in various designer togs: McCartney, Givenchy, D&G, Donna Karen, Valentino, PRADA and others, beautifully ethereal is one word that springs to mind, utter lushness.

 

CREDITS:

Model Malaika Firth;

Photography:  Emma Summerton

Styling: Giovanna Battaglia

Hair: Moodie

Make-up: Mathias van Hooff

Isabell Kristensen Goes From Dressing Princess Charlene Of Monaco To ‘The Darling Buds Of Jamaica’

Jamaica Holds First Ever ‘Haute-Couture’ Fashion Show In Its 400 Year History

Isabell Kristensen With Two Models

First she posed underwater for a shoot inspired by The Little Mermaid, then she did the costume design for film Shanghai Baby, now Danish-born, Monaco-London based Isabell Kristensen is putting Jamaica’s blossoming fashion industry on the world map.

Kristensen, famous for dressing Katy Perry, Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet and her fragrance Dreams loved by Snoop Doggy Dog’s wife Shante Broadus, presented her ‘Jamaican Boa and Orchids’ inspired fashion collection worn by ‘Natural Beauties’ hand picked from the island for the catwalk called ‘Dawn to Dusk’ at Hanover Grange at the Tryall Estate and Sandal’s private island.

Young up-and-coming Jamaican fashion designers Christopher Childs and Natalie Christine also featured during Kristensen’s show. The event raised funds for the Jamaican Arts Council.

Organiser of the fashion event Theresa Roberts, Europe’s largest collector of Jamaican Art says: “The event evoked memories of the 50s and 60s when Jamaica was the glamour destination of choice for the European jet set and Hollywood A list.

Theresa Roberts (C), With Two Young Up & Coming Designers Natalie Christine (L) & Christopher Childs (R)

“The natural splendour of the island and infectious excitement of its people combined with the highest quality events such as this surely mean that the sophisticated elite will quickly rediscover the pleasures that “The Rock” has to offer”.

Jamaica is fast becoming a powerhouse in arts & culture. In New York, Jamaican artists sell for big money, which is now taking off in Europe following a recent House of Lords exhibition organised by Theresa Roberts.

Jamaica is no longer just about Bob Marley, Jamaica’s Winter Olympic Bobsleigh team from ‘Cool Runnings’ and Usain Bolt.

Proceedings to this event went to supporting students at The Edna Manley Art College. They are all making the world take Jamaican arts and culture seriously.

Duro Olowu Lures With Elizabeth de Lanux Influence For His RTW Collection

Inspired by Elizabeth de Lanux, for  his 10th year anniversary Duro Olowu gets our fashionable juices gushing and strongly nearly makes us defiant of the biblical commandment – Thou Shall Not Covet’ with this utterly divalicous collection for his A/W 2014 Ready To Wear Collection at London Fashion Week.

Showcased at the Savoy, the collection was an infusion of vintage art deco glam, vibrant gay Paris of the 20’s, sublime hues and textures so rich at first sight – you just want to caress. Now on the structures and cuts? Fair to say we’ve been bowled over, so must stop typing as we are utterly moorishly in-love!

 “Fabric is the one thing that we all have in common, it’s a universal language. You will find denim in Lagos and Tennessee.” – Duro Olowu.

View some of our fave pieces…totes adore!

By @LovingMedia