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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Print Creator: Banke Kuku

Ever wondered who the creative minds behind innovative prints and new textiles are? Printed and woven Textile designer Banke Kuku has worked with the likes of Jewel by Lisa and Duro Olowu - both labels that have been recognized for their distinguished prints and fabrics.

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Banke Kuku: The Banke Kuku Textiles fuse aspects of African and Western culture to create beautiful and elegant fabrics and interior pieces. BK Textiles can be identified by its intricate patterns, vibrant and sophisticated use of color as it upholds its African heritage. 

APiF: Where do you find inspirations for your designs/prints?
Banke: I am inspired by everything around me - nature, people, architecture, emotions, and current affairs.

APiF: What signifies your prints from others?
Banke: Color!

APiF: What is your preferred printing technique?
Banke: I love silk screen printing, although I don't do much of it anymore. It is very time consuming and labor intensive and with the fast pace of the world a process that has become quite challenging.

APiF: Do you have a favorite print?
Banke: My favorite print at the moment is called the Pride Print - it is form my recent interior collection.The Pride Print draws its inspiration from the traditional European adopted Paisley print. The combination of the paisley influence and the bold African use of color make the print grand and harmonic.



APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the industry?
Banke: Keep true to your identity and don't give up.

APiF: What are your plans for 2012?
Banke: To keep growing!

Find out more:

StyleSister

Stylish Saturdays: My sister in a Zara dress with an Ituen Basi accessory print-flower.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Prints of the Week: Get Your Skirt On!

I am a skirts girl! So when I saw these colorful skirts from Boxing Kitten, I just had to order one and do a little blog post, too.  I already own a short skirt - they call this design the Tina Mini Skirt - from the same label and I have worn it many many times. So I just know that the investment will be worth it. Also, I can do with some more color in my closet.

Guess which one I ordered? 
Hint: It would also be an amazing design for an Easter Egg.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Peter Pilotto Prints

Whenever I see a design from the Peter Pilotto label in a magazine, I wish it would materialize so that I can grab and wear it. The outfits look so elegant and chic. The colors and prints are just amazing. "Otherworldly prints" is the description on the PP website for the look. Love it! How about you?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Afro-Fabulous: Accessories from QuellyRue Designs

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Racquel Dwomoh: I am the creative designer behind the label QuellyRue Designs. QuellyRue Designs is collection of tote bags, African jewelry, contemporary jewelry, hair accessories, and more. All handmade with an Afrocentric flair.

APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs? 
Racquel: The inspiration behind QuellyRue Designs comes from many places – my cultural legacy, my life growing up in the buzzing city of Accra, Ghana, my own crazy imaginations, nature, happiness, truth, colors, textures, African prints and the beautiful women of Africa.

APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be? 
Racquel: This person would be bold, Afro-fabulous, expressive, and necessary.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Racquel: I love and adore all the pieces in my collection but my favorite would have to be my tote bags. I truly enjoy the personal connections forged while making these tote bags. They are such a unique reflection of my love for Africa, natural hair, and all the creative wanderings in my mind, my art, and my style.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience? 
Racquel: Although I am based in New York City, I do ship worldwide - making my pieces accessible to a global audience. I market my designs through my blog, facebook, tumblr, twitter, art and craft communities, that sort of thing. I also promote myself in the real world, participating in craft shows, passing out my business cards everywhere and taking any and all the press I can get! I am endlessly thankful for all of the dedicated bloggers (like yourself) who have promoted my work over the years — thank you!

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry? 
Racquel: Align your creations with your vision and your values. There are so many designers making so many incredible goods. You just have to use your own style and your own talent and make the things in the super-special way that is your own.

APiF: What are your fashion plans for 2012? 
Racquel: New products, new customers and to hopefully see my work one day grace the cover of a major fashion magazine! I am endlessly working on expanding my collection of fashion accessories. I also have a T-Shirt Line coming soon! This collection is something that I'm working on now and I am super excited about it. I hope my passion for making beautiful things never wanes and that I can continue to live my dream.

Find out more:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fun, bold and beautiful: Vanessa Mukasa

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Vanessa Mukasa: My label, Vanessa Mukasa, is about strong, stylish, cosmopolitan women from all walks of life. I love color and different texture in my work. My designs vary with what is inspiring me. With the Metropical Deluxe collection I was inspired by my urge to try to change the way Kente/wax print cotton was worn by the younger generation, and to inspire non-African women to wear it without it looking cliché.

APiF: Why did you choose a career in fashion?
Vanessa: Since I can remember I have been obsessed with fashion. At 8 or 9 years of age I already designed clothes and sent out mini newsletters together with friends based on our designs. My Dad would get me the latest Vogue and Elle and I would admire the photos and ad campaigns. When I reached secondary school (similar to High School), I did a work experience project at Storm Model Management. This gave me my first insight into the fashion industry and I loved every minute of it. Initially I was into PR and styling, but after I interned at Vivienne Westwood, I knew I had to design.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Vanessa: I started using African fabrics in my last year of university. I would always collect different prints from various African fabric shops in London but would never do anything with them, until I came up with my graduate collection Metropical Deluxe. Although I love my African prints, I can't use the material for the sake of using it. I only will be using them again when I have something unique to showcase. I would love to create my own wax print - maybe that is the way forward.

APiF: Fashion Finds - What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Vanessa: My favorite piece in collection is the Green Eve dress, it embodies everything I wanted to portray with the collection as a whole: fun, bold and beautiful!

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Vanessa: I use a range of marketing tools. I am still learning the best approach here. I do a lot of shows to meet new clients; twitter and facebook are fantastic tools, too. My upcoming website is also a great way of marketing garments.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Vanessa: Keep an open mind, be prepared to work super hard because it is not easy, but it is rewarding at the end of the day. Keep in mind what it is you want to achieve with your brand!

APiF: What are the next big events for you?
Vanessa: I will be at the Africa Fashion Week in New York and attend the South Africa Fashion Week later this year.


You can read the complete interview with Vanessa Mukasa in AfroElle (page 96).

Find out more:

Friday, March 23, 2012

What I bought: Crazy Prints Blouse

A fellow blogger - TheStyleClimber - sent me a link to the Fashionzen Blog. I love fashion blogs, they are such a great inspiration for styling, articles and shopping.

As it is Friday and my work week was quite crazy due to long hours and conference calls that started as early as 6.30 am (yikes!), I am in need of some retail therapy. When I saw this great print blouse on the Fashionzen Blog, I ordered it right away at www.sheinside.com.
It will look amazing on jeans of any color. I cannot wait to try it on.

How do you like the blouse? Yay or Nay?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

SideStep: City Chic Accessories by Sophie Blake NY

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Sophie Blake: The three words to describe my brand would be: Sophistication, structure, versatility. My collection focuses on pieces and materials inspired by the Art Nuevo and Deco era designed for both men and women.

APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be? 
Sophie: This person would be best described as city chic whether New York, London or Paris. It takes them less than an hour to pick an outfit and get ready, they believe in quality over quantity. They enjoy well balanced designs, clean and architectural looks with a touch of the ancient world; and they love good music whether it’s Indie Rock or Jazz.

APiF: What inspires you? 
Sophie: Most of my aesthetic in my jewelry comes from the Art Nuevo and Deco era, whether the inspiration comes from paintings or books or even our own NYC skyline. I do like to give my pieces a touch of an organic feel, to reflect a bit of the old world (Middle East and Asia). I also like to use a lot of vintage and limited edition chains, stones as these pieces exist in small quantity only and are produced right here in New York.

APiF: Which song expresses your style/collection best?
Sophie: This is a hard one because there’s so many emotions involved with my current collection but I guess this song would be the perfect fit to what I was going through emotionally as my collection was coming into evolution: Phantogram “When I’m Small”

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your collection and why?
Sophie: I love allot of the pieces from my most recent collection, but I guess if I had to pick one it would be the Aysha Necklace it’s my strongest piece and the one where everything stemmed from.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion/accessory industry?
Sophie: Patience, Patience, Patience…do your research, see what other designers are doing. Make sure when you design your collection that it’s a reflection of your own style and self identity, don’t try to be something you’re not. It’s a tough industry and you need to be prepared for letdowns, rejections and mistakes. But you learn and you move on. One of the quotes I like best is from Mad Men’s Donald Draper "My life moves only in one direction...forward”.

Find out more:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trendy in yellow & blue: Christie Brown

Ghanaian designer Christie Brown focuses on blue and yellow color inspirations for her Talensi Summer 2012 collection. Some selected items, like the jacket in the large picture, can currently be purchased on myasho.com

I had shared some of her designs before on facebook, but I just had to do this little piece about it, as I am really in love with this collection. It is trendy and elegant at the same time and the colors just work beautifully together. My favorite pieces are the jacket, the yellow dress and the top on the left (second from below). A pity that the top isn't available online yet. 

Find out more:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Step out exclusively" with Qute Fashion, London

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Elizabeth Batchelor: Qute Fashion is a fashion label - we are designing our own clothing and selling it exclusively online. In addition we offer a tailored design service to customers. Qute Fashion’s designs are never mass produces so you can be sure to step out exclusively.

APiF: Why prints?
Elizabeth: Print is fun, print is empowering and print is inspiring!

Qute Fashion: What inspires you?
Elizabeth: When designing, I aim to create the million dollar feeling you get when you put on a dress or outfit, you feel confident and you know that you look good! Everyone deserves to feel this way! So I guess this is what inspires me.

APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be?
Elizabeth: Qute Fashion would be a lady who believes in herself, has an air of confidence and loves to make every moment hers.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Elizabeth: From the current collections on qutefashion.com I absolutely love the open back satin trim dress (red). It is one of those dresses I can imagine walking down the street in and a passerby looks and thinks wow what an amazing/striking print and then as I walk by they turn to further take it in and then WOW. The unexpected detail on the back! What a way to make an impression.


APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Elizabeth: Do it because you love it! It is a tough business but your love of fashion/designing will keep you motivated and working to reach your goals.

Find out more:
shop: http://www.qutefashion.com/
like: https://www.facebook.com/QuteFashionX

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Prints of the Week: Stunning - Loza Maléombho AW12/13

Loza Maléombho makes the category Prints of the Week again! I just had to share her AW 2012-13 collection with you. The collection was presented at the ARISE fashion show last week in Lagos, Nigeria. Her designs are so different and innovative compared to everything else that is out there. The combination of patterns, prints and these eccentric tops that almost look like the tops of rapier fighters - amazing. I especially like the blue-white suit.  

Curious to hear your opinion on the designs!

Also check-out the interview I did with Loza  in 2011.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Feel-good Outfits by Melyjah

APiF: Please introduce your label.
Mélanie: Melyjah is an ethnic brand located in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. I am mixing different textiles from Africa and other continents: cotton, wax, silk.
 
APiF: Who do you design for?
Mélanie: I'm designing unique pieces for women and little girls; I want them to feel good in their outfits.
 
APiF: Which song expresses your collection best?
Mélanie: The music that expresses my collection best is Jammin' by Bob Marley: the song is just feel good, colorful and sensual all together!
 
e: melyjah@live.fr
f: follow Melyjah on facebook

Monday, March 12, 2012

Inspired by a friendship: German label nyah & ich

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Marie-Fleur Gloy: nyah und ich (nyah & I) is a mix of African fabrics, European cuts and designs. By blending these two continents in our designs, we want to tell the story of a true friendship - nyah und ich.

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Marie-Fleur: nyah und ich started with my thesis paper. However, my love for these beautiful prints started much earlier. I always loved playing around with prints and colors.



APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Marie-Fleur: It is great that the fabrics are being now more often used and showcased. Prints fascinate me. I would like them to become even more exposed and exceptional in Europe.

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why? 
Marie-Fleur: I have two favorite items in my collection - The military jacket with the embroidered logo on the back; and the dress I made for my thesis (left).

APiF: What inspires you?
Marie-Fleur: I always look for the latest trends and try to combine these with African prints. I also try to add my personal point of view and style to the designs. The personal aspect is very important to me, as it is the expression of the friendship our label was build upon.

Find out more:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Prints of the Week: LOUD


Check-out the cool and colorful outfits from young British designer duo Abi Fashesin and Ashley-Rae Tapping. They founded their fashion label LOUD on facebook a couple of years ago. Pretty inspiring how far you can get nowadays with Social Networks! The two ladies mix traditional prints, that represent their cultural heritage, with contemporary designs. I totally love their vibrant and modern outfits. From the above picture I would like to have the Jacket & Bikini Top as well as the Boob Tube in my closet.

Which outfit do you like best?

Find out more:
shop: http://loud-culture.com/
read: http://www.blog.loud-culture.com/

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Maniac Marni Shopping Experience

It is Thursday the 8th of March, today H&M will sell their Marni collection from 8 am on in selected stores. My clever friend Nina suggests to log-on to the German H&M store www.hm.com/de at 4 am EST - which is 10 am in Germany - to get our hands on some Marni pieces. Pretty early, but better than lining up at 7 am in front of a store, right?


3:50 am EST - My alarm rings and I get up right away

3:58 am EST - I am trying to reach the hm.com/de page but it is down: "Please be patient we are updating our website and will be up again at 10 am CET". That is in 2 minutes. I am checking in with Nina via email who is also up. She confirms that she has the same message on her screen.

4:01 am EST - I am reloading the page. Now the website is telling me that I was placed in a queue, due to the high demand on their site. "Please be patient and try again". Quick check-in with Nina, but she was also placed in a queue.

4:10 am EST - "Please be patient and try again". Patience is not one of my virtues. But I keep on hitting the reload button. Nothing changes. Same message.

4:20 am EST - "Please be patient and try again". I am tired. I have some red bull in the fridge and consider drinking it. 

4:23 am EST - Message from Nina: "I can see the collection now, but I cannot add anything to my cart." Good for her! I am reloading the page: "Please be patient and try again".

4:30 am EST - It is still dark outside. Do I really want to get dressed and take the subway downtown? I am starting to talk myself out of my Marni Mania. Do I really need the dress with the 2 different prints? I will save money if I just go back to bed now.

4:32 am EST - "I just completed  my purchase" - happy email from Nina. I keep on hitting the reload button frantically. Come on now hm.com/de - don't let me hanging.

4:35 am EST - Finally! I can access the page and I see the collection. Yeah! I am adding the 3 items I want to my cart - a black belt, the green print dress that has another crazy print on the back and the skirt with the purple and cream dots.

4:42 am EST - I will have to ship this to my Mum's house in Germany, as H&M does not ship internationally. I enter her address. I enter my credit card. I press the final purchase button - "Credit Card declined". 

4:45 am EST - Great, the German address and the US Credit Card do not work together. Argh, I am so close.

4:47 am EST - I find another payment option. H&M offers to send the bill together with the products. Perfect, I am finalizing my purchase.

5:00 am EST - I am going back to bed. I am glad I didn't drink any red bull.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Color your Neck: Holst + Lee


One of my friends sent me a link to these beautiful, colorful necklaces from the designer duo Holst + Lee. They almost look like candy and will make every outfit pop. A pity, that the prices are quite impressive, too. How do you like these accessories?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Naana B.: Designs for free spirits and adventure lovers

APIF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Naana B.: I am a NYC-based fashion designer who has a line of clothing and handbags called Naana B. The line is created in Ghana by a women's sewing collective. The women are trained at a sponsor NGO called Rural Communities Empowerment Center (RCEC). 

APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics? 
Naana B.: I am a lover of art and design. When I graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Visual Arts and Art History, I actually intended on pursuing a degree in architecture. As an art student I majored in sculpture and painting. I used a lot of fabric in my work and learned to sew through the process. Developing a line of clothing was a natural transition for me. Being from Ghana, African textiles were always a central point of inspiration for me. I started using the fabrics and never looked back.
      
APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs? 
Naana B.: It is simply a natural extension of who I am. Every design decision I make is influenced by an element of my heritage.

APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend? 
Naana B.: It is truly wonderful to see the fashion world embrace a craft that has been used and celebrated in Africa for 100's of years. That being said, I believe emerging designers from Africa are finding it harder to garnish the international attention that designers such as Burberry and Marc Jacobs have benefited from when they've developed "capsule" collections with ethic prints. I believe we will get there.                                              

APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be? 
Naana B.: A free spirit. Someone who loves adventure and seeing, experiencing new things.

APiF: What inspires u? 
Naana B.: Art. I am an art lover and collector.

APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience? 
Naana B.: With my line, my most successes from a sales perspective have come from word of mouth. I have many clients that own many of my pieces. Women who travel wear my line and therefore woman of the world buy it. It is global.

APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry? 
Naana B.: Stick with it. Building a team and trusting and relying on people can be tough. But its worth it. Work with people that believe in what you are about and doing.

Find out more:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Spunky, fun-loving and sophisticated": Interview with the label Busayo NY

APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs
Michelle Olupona: Busayo is really a celebration of the diversity of African textiles and an effort to present African prints and textiles in modern, sophisticated shapes. I am inspired by textiles, the fabrics drive the design. I am primarily interested in the diverse array of textile possibilities across the continent beyond wax print. I certainly love wax print fabrics but there is so much more than that. I aim to design for the regular woman, who loves fashion but is not consumed by it, and someone who loves to wear unique pieces. All of our fabrics are often grouped together and that is unfortunate. 


APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?  
Michelle: I have been making pieces for myself for a long time. My family left Nigeria in 1991 and I returned for visits beginning in 2000 and would create pieces on each of the trips. I grew up in Nigeria and have always loved going to the market to buy and explore the fabric options. I began seriously focusing on creating a collection in 2010. I created designs for other folks, because the fabrics are beautiful and the possibilities are truly endless. I loved wearing these pieces, that integrated my love of African prints and tradition with a more Western aesthetic, and thought other women might want to do the same.
 
APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be? 
Michelle: She is spunky, fun-loving, sophisticated, loves to travel, filled with curiosity about life and connected to who she is and has a keen awareness of where she wants to go. 

APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Henry Skirt
Michelle: Wow, too many. It changes all the time. But right now I would say it is probably the Henry Skirt or Kehinde tunic.
 
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience? 
Michelle: I currently host events in New York, selling in boutiques and online through my website, www.busyaonyc.com. My goal is to be in 50 boutiques by the end of the year.
 
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry? 
Michelle: Follow your heart and just start, take classes, immerse yourself in what you love and start reaching out to people and telling them about what you are doing. Develop your craft, I think the advice works for really any field that you are interested in and is not limited for fashion. Work on a business plan and if it is only a few pieces, create your stuff and start getting it out there.  

APiF: What are your fashion plans for 2012? 
Michelle: Accessories, accessories, Accessories. Visiting other countries in Africa for fabric inspiration. I am traveling to Mali and Nigeria shortly and I am very excited about the possibilities. Expanding the line and making the collection bigger and better. 


Find out more
t: https://twitter.com/#!/busayonyc

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prints of the Week: AfroFunk by Bukki

In case you haven't noticed yet, with all the fluorescent colors popping-up in stores and collections, but the 80ies are back - or at least some influences of them! Check-out the new label Bukki from designer Bukki Ojo, which describes itself as a mixture of "Africa, Punk, Hipster and some 80ies". Quite a funky mixture if you ask me. I could see myself wearing the jeans & prints jacket or shirt. 

Find out more:  




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