Last Friday 9.30pm saw KikoRomeo take to the runway at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg. The African Fashion International tented venue in Melrose Arch was thronged with South Africa’s who’s who, turning out to see the cream of Africa’s fashion designers. The event pioneered by South African Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe has grown to be the main platform for designers from the continent, each out doing each other in fashion forward thinking as Africa embraces an explosion in creative industries.

 The KikoRomeo collection opened with Sanele, a model with Albinism, wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan “It’s in my DNA” emblazoned on the front. Asked about this, Head Designer Ann McCreath said “Many years ago I was challenged by Lupita Nyong’o to put people with albinism on the runway, so that they could be viewed as beautiful just like anyone else. After watching her movie “In My Genes” I really wanted to contribute to the reduction of stigmatism around albinism, and tonight I have been given that opportunity”.

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 Tayeb Daw el Bait, sculpted on the body with precision cut. KikoRomeo and El Tayeb have worked together for over a decade, creating unique looks both in all over pattern and motifs inspired by architectural forms and geometric symbols. Flashes of old gold techno prints reminded us of KikoRomeo’s use of African print, which have become synonymous with the brand.

 The men’s looks for Autumn Winter 2015/16 included a mix of tie and dye cotton pullovers and cable hand spun woolen sweaters, layered over grandpa shirts and figure hugging button down shirts clasped at the neck with brass spears. The influence of punks mixed with Maasai & Scottish heritage of McCreath into strapped and buckled bondage trousers and colourful crop jackets. Hues of beige with maroons and blue and the occasional flash of red, created a striking yet easily wearable look for the modern man.
The women’s styles were a contrast of structured jackets with flowing trousers and skirts. Skirts wrapped or had high side slits. Outfits were enhanced by stunning jewelry from Le Collane di Betta, which also picked elements from Maasai heritage. Woven silks, linens and cottons mixed with the cotton hand knits and beautifully crafted crocheted pieces to produce a very modern look. Gladiator sandals in tie and dye leather, strapped up the leg to complete an edgy look.

Images Courtesy of Emmanuel Jambo.
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KikoRomeo was founded by Ann McCreath in Kenya in 1996. Working with community groups and artisans since inception, she has honed their craft skills to international high quality thanks to her strong technical knowledge. The KikoRomeo team includes many former domestic workers, who she has retrained to become some of the finest craft people in Kenya. She has also worked with painters and sculptors, both in the creation of unique collections and in decorating her flag ship store in Nairobi’s Yaya Centre. KikoRomeo is firmly committed to the promotion of modern Africa’s arts and culture and collaborates frequently with creative artists in other fields. Ann is the Chair of FAFA (Festival of African Fashion & Arts), and has received international recognition for services to ethical fashion and the fashion industry in Africa. She has lived and worked in Kenya for 22 years. Her daughter Iona is involved in the business too, designing a young fashion line in aid of Hands Off Our Elephants campaign known as “Kikoti”.

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