BY ELi CHEP & EVE CHEGE
South Africa’s premiere fashion week — The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week was held last week, hosted by Fashion Africa International – AFI, at The Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, South Africa. We always enjoy a show rooted in African pride and that’s exactly what day three of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa featuring Kenya’s renown fashion label, Kiko Romeo gave to us with designers were singing a happy tune with collections that emphasized a great moment for “our heritage reimagined”.
Kiko Romeo’s “Back to Our Roots” collection celebrated the brand’s 18 years in the African fashion business. It was a retrospective look at the label’s various iconic designs over the years, and the reinterpret thereof for the present day. The warrior princess print, textured woolens, chunky sequined tassels and cleavage baring halters exemplified the new casual. A special touch is that the same crafts- people who contributed to the original designs have again been involved in the creative process.
The collection was awash with texture, weaves, knits and leather intertwining into a rich mix. Maasai plaids met stunning hand painted textiles by Sudanese fine artist, El TayebDaw el Bait, fashioned on the body with precision cuts. Flashes of old gold techno prints reminded us of KikoRomeo’s use of African print, which have become synonymous with the brand.
“Back to Our Roots” opened up the runway showcase featuring Sanele, a model with Albinism, wearing a sweatshirt with the inscribed slogan “It’s in my DNA” on the front. The men’s collection featured a mix of tie and dye cotton pullovers and woolen sweaters, encrusted over grandpa shirts and figure hugging button-down shirts gripped at the neck with brass spears. Hues of beige with maroons and blue and the occasional flash of red, adorned a striking yet wearable look for the contemporary man.
The women’s collection featured structured jackets with flowing trousers and skirts. Wrapped skirts featured high-side slits. Woven silks, linens and cottons mixed with cotton knits with beautifully crafted crocheted pieces defined a creatively, sophisticated look. Gladiator sandals in tie and dye leather, strapped up the leg completed an edgy outlook. Outfits were eventually embellished by stunning jewelry from Le Collane di Betta, which reflected elements from Maasai heritage.
Kiko Romeo highlighted the main inspiration behind the collection was Lupita’s movie “In My Genes” that highlighted how beautiful people with albinism are, just like anyone else which also unearthed unparalleled beauty complexion issues previously experienced in the western world such as racial beauty and albinism in general. Hence, an opportunity for Kiko Romeo to contribute to reduction of stigmatism around albinism.
In a surprise turn of events, the fashion week saw designers from a few African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana showcase their Spring-Summer ’15 collections to industry experts, press, buyers, VIP guests and the general public.
Some of the designers present at this year’s event included Kenya’s Anne McCreath (representing Kiko Romeo) and John Kaveke, Sheria Ngowi from Tanzania, Mille Collines from Rwanda, Taibo Bacar from Mozambique, Kibonen from Cameroon, Intisaar from Zimbabwe, Tina Labondi from Congo, Mai Atafo and Josh & Nicol from Nigeria, and David Tlale, Spero Viliotii , Carducii, Marianne Fassler from South Africa.
(Photos by Simon Deiner / SDR Photo)
Check out below for more PHOTOS from KIKO ROMEO’S “BACK TO OUR ROOTS” COLLECTION