Saturday nights in Nairobi are a King’s feast table, the loads of events on offer are juicy enough to whet the social bugs’ appetite as one is spoilt for choice. This past Saturday, there was glitz, glamour and beautiful smiles at the 88 Pan Asian bar and restaurant at the Villa Rosa Kempinski during the Runway Masquerade Ball, an elaborate concept by House of Kaji and Deejay Imran.
“Unlike most other Masquerade parties held in the Kenyan capital, this Ball is designed to be a very classy affair. It will be held more often so as to bring together members from the corporate world and fashion entrepreneurs over a fun and memorable platform.” according to Imran Mwangi, who is also the Kempinski’s in house DJ.
The event sponsored by Kaymu, Lintons Beauty World, EABL’s Kenel One Vodka and Piri Sassy attracted renowned fashion gurus such as Galina Tatarinova, director of the Kenya Fashion Awards, Ann Mcreath of Kiko Romeo and a host of other media personalities, doctors, lawyers and corporate heads.
Stunning models graced the snow white runway to showcase eccentric designs as the reverberations of upbeat music filled the air, and vodka cocktails enchanted the sophisticated fashion lovers donned in golden face masks along with the events’ theme.
Six designers, keen on building their profiles in the Kenyan market, displayed their creative works to the audience’s delight.
First up was Ihsani Culture’s Nkatha, showcasing her bespoke corsets and evening gowns made from pure cotton material and beaming African patterns. Nkatha has been designing since 2009 and indicates that while Kenyans are becoming more appreciative of the local designers, which has helped boost her business, the poor supply of material is a big blow. She urges the Government to revive the local cotton industries so as to boost the fast growing trade.
Ethiopia is a land where cotton grows in plenty, this is evident from the traditional wear made and worn by its beautiful women. Bitti Woldu, was second to showcase her designs which were all amazingly handmade and designed to appeal to the modern lady.
Travel bags and handbags also hit the runway as Gonzala Leathers took the stage to display its intricate leather designs. Founded in 2009, the company run by the youthful Gabriel Anzala, also works with Canvas, Ankara and Asian fabrics.
“Fashion is an everyday thing, we all incorporate the beauty from our surroundings in our daily wear.” Shares Sylvia Okech whose passion for fashion is evident in her drive to balance her life as both a lawyer and designer. Her sole proprietorship business named House of Danielle showcased the most daring design of the evening.
A choice of very casual designs made from Lyra, which is a faux leather fabric. “I painstakingly put all the sparkling studs on my own, this work can be difficult and very demanding but one has to keep pushing to succeed.” She asserts. Sylvia also indicates that she is lucky to have got a lot of support from her mother and the mentorship of established designers which is vital to creative growth and money making sense.
Talent is something that each one of us is born with, but it has to be nurtured to bring out the best of our creativity. Sharize Odongo knows this all too well. She began designing in 2011 at age 14. Through her label, Malishaj, which means ‘making a living’, she wowed the audience with her practical women’s wear designs. The young fashionpreneur now plans to launch a men’s wear line due to public demand.
To culminate the spectacular evening, House of Kaji took the runway. Founded by Esther Kalekye Musa and her brother, James Mwoni in 2013, this family run label started with the production of Ankara shoes and later on ventured into clothing and accessories targeted at the foreign market. “We have had success in the foreign market but now want to assert our presence in the Kenyan market because Africa is the future of all things great, plus home is always the best.” Says Esther who designs mainly depending on her moods but often in a trendy and eccentric way.
As more Kenyans continue to embracing fashion and local designers, expensive imports and cheaper Chinese products are being ditched. The demand is growing for more creative, simple, classy and inexpensive designs with an African touch.
Therefore, networking platforms such as House of Kaji’s Runway masquerade Ball are encouraging to the budding fashion industry in Kenya which needs more support. Definitely a must watch.
Thank you Kaymu for inviting us to be part of this fantastic event.
Mwende Maritim is a budding freelance writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has always had a passion for well written content but began writing professionally in 2014. Her writing mainly covers lifestyle issues and anything to inspire people especially the teenagers she mentors.