The just concluded Heineken Lagos Fashion Week saw Kenyan fashion brand KikoRomeo unveil a new collection inspired by the Cushitic communities of North-Eastern Kenya - the Rendille and Samburu.
Inspired by the Rendille & Samburu, check out KikoRomeo's stunning collection debuted in Lagos
One of the themes Kenyan fashion designer Iona McCreath explored with the collection is the body as a conveyor of cultural processes and storytelling
The ILLE Collection showcases stunning, easy-to-wear, fluid pieces with space for movement around the body for both men and women.
Designer of the collection and KikoRomeo's Creative Director Iona McCreath showed innovation through textiles and silhouettes, marrying traditional dyeing and weaving techniques with new textures, patterns and modern silhouettes.
"With inspiration stemming from the Rendille and Samburu and the processes of hybridisation and evolution that they have faced in relation to each other. The body as a form of adornment is another theme that this collection explores," Iona explained.
Sharp “V” necklines, were contrasted by asymmetric hems, parallel pants and deep pleats. Flowing jumpsuits and dresses in regenerated orange peel and rose petal textiles contrasted with boxy cuts of handwoven cotton.
Patterns were rich with linear stripes of brightly-colored beads, blurry stripes of hand dyes and soft geometric diamonds in blues, oranges and browns. These were combined with undyed natural yarn and napa leather.
The brand also paid close attention to detail with finely crafted coconut shell buttons and laser-cut cow horn buttons, both upcycled by-products of the food industry.
Iona McCreath's vision for KikoRomeo
The ILLE textile was created to encapsulate the wealth of Kenyan beadwork and embody it within a textile. The glass beads are combined with rainfed cotton, and then woven into the textile, reflecting the semi-permanence of bodily adornment.
"Primarily from the perspective of nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples who move around constantly. Thus, through processes of permanence (through scarring, piercings etc) and impermanence, (through body painting and jewelry) the body becomes a way to convey cultural processes and tell stories. Within this collection, these themes are explored through the individual textiles and their pairings," Iona added.
KikoRomeo is a heritage brand, widely credited with transforming fashion in Kenya, and mentoring many designers and artisans over the last two decades. KikoRomeo means “Adam’s Apple” in Kiswahili and was founded in 1996 by Iona's mother Christine-Ann McCreath.
Twenty-six-year-old Iona took the reins at KikoRomeo in 2018 and is keen on material innovation, researching and developing ways to create new textiles that are informed by our contexts
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