Tag Archives: African designers

Friday Feature: Orleans Designs

Hazel Aggrey of Orleans Designs

I first heard about Orleans Designs when I interviewed Ruby of KUA Designs.  I decided that I should check it out. It was an instant WOW.  I like to describe Hazel Aggrey as a lady who has coined Afro couture meeting with a more contemporary vibe. The results, a versatile line that is awfully attractive and made to capture the iris and pull it right in.  Her designs were truly meant for the light. When I saw the way these clothes flow, with silk and movement, I knew that anyone who could wear these garments would instantly feel beautiful. We instantly connected.  You can also find her on Facebook here.

First of: Can we get some background info from you.

I was born in Germany but then moved to Nigeria at a very young age, where I spent 17 years of my life. I have very fond memories growing up as a child in Lagos.

I am of mixed heritage – my mother is German and my father was Nigerian.  Growing up in Nigeria, I naturally developed a close bond to African culture.  In addition, having traveled around the world (to Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean and many more countries), it led me to combine both my African roots with the rich cultural encounters I came across in my travels. This combination, of both cultures, has formed the basis for my collection.

Tell us a little about Orleans Designs

Hazel Aggrey-Orleans is the creative force behind Orleans Designs.  Orleans Designs is a new woman’s wear and accessory label.  It draws inspiration from colorful memories growing up as a child in the culturally dynamic city of Lagos (Nigeria).  Also, this line is inspired by my Germanic roots. West African prints and symbols form the basis of the luxurious silk patterns; silk overcomes that restriction that is often carried via traditional cottons. {Using her mixed heritage, Hazel has cleverly combined her two worlds into her work}. The results produce more contemporary features in the garments. Orleans Designs prides themselves not only on their one of a kind beautiful prints but, also, in the skilled and exquisite craftsmanship that goes into each garment.

Autumn/Winter


What inspires your designs?

My inspirations are: my kids, my mixed cultural backgrounds, and lastly but very importantly, my simple love for color; color inspirations are most heightened during the grey wintery months when everyone around you is dressed in black, grey or navy blue. I like nothing more than to make a stunning entrance and it is my mission to bring out the colorful goddess in every woman.

Traditional West African Ankara prints are always on stiffer cottons. I have decided to contemporize them and play around with soft, flowy, silk fabrics. For me, it gives it that extra luxurious feel and there is nothing wrong with modernizing our African prints and fabrics.

Who are your favorite emerging designers and what is it that you love about them?

I love Eva Sonaike’s cushions. I really like the way she has coupled the use of African fabrics with leather and velvet. The finishing, of her products, is immaculate. I can’t wait to see the fuller range of products she will soon be offering. www.evasonaike.com

I first read about Kua Designs in Canoe Magazine and thought, wow, her bags are stunning. Since then I have been seeing a lot of her publicity. It always helps when the designer herself is just as lovely as the bags themselves. www.kuadesigns.com

In terms of clothes designers, I am a fan of anyone who is innovative, has a story to tell behind their designs and doesn’t take themselves too serious. I also love designers who use a lot of color as I am not a ‘black’ chic.

Where can people buy your items?

Currently our Spring/Summer COCO collection can be bought online at www.orleansdesigns.com

What is your best attribute?

I would say patience and perseverance. I am a very committed person – once I promise to do something I always do it even if it means bending over backwards.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
‘You do not need to see the whole staircase – just take one step at a time’.

I always set myself high goals, never knowing how on earth I will achieve them but everything always falls into place in the end, so I try not to worry too much.

Excluding yours, what company or brand do you admire the most?
I admire a lot of brands but I always like a brand with a story. I appreciate it more, if I know how it all started.   With the company, Wellicious, it all started with a lady drawing up sketches on her kitchen floor and staying up long hours to pull it all together. She made a lot of mistakes but learned from them and is now taking the world by storm with her beautiful yoga clothing. www.wellicious.com

Favorite lyrics from a song?
I guess one that comes to mind is Mariah Carey’s old-time favorite – Hero.

Dreams are hard to follow

But don’t let anyone tear them away

Hold on

There will be tomorrow

In time, you find the way

Word you live by?

It’s not the person with the great idea who succeeds but the one who follows it through. I don’t talk much. I save that energy for getting things done. Nothing in life is easy but it depends on how eager you are to succeed. I am very keen and I’m not going anywhere till I have achieved my goal of being a recognizable brand worldwide for beautiful prints.

Spring/Summer

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Feature Friday: K.U.A Designs

Ruby is both a visionary and, an active entrepreneur. The name K.U.A means:  “Keeping Us Authentic”.  Her designs are captivating, embodied with colors that are magnetic and creatively mixed.  When I first encountered K.U.A Designs,  I became an instant K.U.A fan.   A fan that Ruby, the founder, would call a “K.U.A baby”.  I was captivated.   Being Ghanaian born, and raised, Ruby is an inspiring female entrepreneur who has made the passage in designing purses, and jewelry, that are influenced by vibrant Africa effects. Ruby is beautiful, business-minded and, humble.   That makes for a source of great attraction.   Her sense of invention is marvelous.   So we caught up to chat with the founder of K.U.A Designs.  Also find K.U.A  on Facebook.

First of: Can we get some background info from you. (e.g Where you are from and what inspires you?

I was born and raised in Ghana. After earning a degree in Business Admin in Georgia, I worked in Finance for a while before deciding to focus on my creative side. Here I am, taking it a day at a time and enjoying the journey with its ups and downs.

Tell us a little about KUA Designs (e.g who is the founder, How did it start, what it means:

Kua Designs, a Ghanaian-inspired purse line was introduced to the world in 2009.  Before then, I had a jewelry company called Stringz Attached. This year, I put both ventures under the same roof and I decided to keep the name Kua because of the sentimental value it holds. Kua is my mother’s name and thus connotes all the things my mother stands for: authenticity, cultural grounding, cool confidence, simplicity and beauty. Yes, my mum is the best (not that you asked… LOL).  Kua also stands for Keeping Us Authentic and I strive to hold myself up to that in business decisions I make.

What inspires your designs?

The rich colors of African wax print, the warm textures of goatskin, and the organic shapes of semi-precious stones… the list can go on and on. But in short, the ‘life’ in these materials I use greatly influence what I make. That is why I enjoy picking out my own materials.

Who are your favorite emerging designers and what is it that you love about them?

I have a number of favorites but these come to mind right away:

Malene b is an independent carpet designer who draws on her experiences around the world to design beautiful carpet.

I love Orleans designs’ use of silks in her flirty collection

Ndamus Bags makes statement pieces! Raw and edgy.

Where can people buy your items?

Spring collection is available on Kua’s website www.kuadesigns.com under ‘Shop’.  I am always happy when Spring rolls back around because of all the fun colors.  I hope you enjoy my current collection as much as I enjoy making them.

What is your best attribute?

I asked a few friends (since I am not good with such questions) and this is what I got:  confidence, positive attitude, social/people skills, sense of humor, smile, creativity, very jovial, outgoing, bubbly, witty, analytical, full of life, vivacious and brainy. As you can tell, I have very kind friends.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
A couple of years ago when I was still deciding whether to go at this full-time, my mum, in our Nzema language said “do whatever makes you happy as long as you don’t become a liability to someone”.  That is the best advice because it forces me to live within my means and propels me to go after my dreams! Did I mention she was the best? LOL

Excluding yours, what company or brand do you admire the most?
This is a tough one because I admire several.  Just last night, I saw Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter on TV, so she comes to mind right away. I love her story; I love how she started from her kitchen and how she did small shows till she became the empire she is today. Very heart-warming and encouraging, to say the least…

Favorite lyrics from a song?
Again, I can’t quite pick because I truly don’t have one favorite but I have been listening to Sade’s latest album and I like something about her Long Hard Road song.

There’s a long hard road ahead
But a voice inside me said
You know there’s something that you need to know
It’s gonna be alright

Word you live by?

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results”.  In short, if I want it, I must work hard to get it. Needless to say, tenacity is one of the things I pray God continues to shower on me 🙂

African Collections on the Runway

Arise Magazine did a coverage of an event that showcased African Fashion Collective at New York Fashion Week in February 2009. It was the group’s fashion debut at the prestigious fashion extravaganza. Xuly Bet, Tiffany Amber, Stoned Cherrie, and Momo presented their Fall 2009 collections to the fashion elite. 

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african collections @ NYC fashion weekAfrican cllctn @NYC fashion wekfashionrecordssignature

Joburg Fashion week

Many designers gathered to potray, and claim, the golden era of African civilization.  Stoned Cherrie, one of S.A’s big fashion players was there to ring the alarms of the vibrancy of African designs. Johannesburg was up in the clouds with bold colors and fabrics reminiscent of royalty.  Sleek modern lines and funky street-wear are both things you can’t have enough of. Fashion in post-apartheid South Africa reflects the country’s journey from pariah state to a multiracial democracy.  Young designers mirror the country’s diversity and growing cultural confidence.  It’s not just fashion that’s exhibited in these pieces. It’s sentimental value as well. 

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African beauty and accessories:

An outfit by Sun Goddes at Joburg Fashion Week.

An outfit by Sun Goddes at Joburg Fashion Week.

A model displays an outfit created by Stoned Cherrie with the theme "Fashion for food" to create the awareness of child hunger during Joburg Fashion Week Photo: Reuters

A model displays an outfit created by Stoned Cherrie with the theme "Fashion for food" to create the awareness of child hunger during Joburg Fashion Week Photo: Reuters

David Tlale rocks the Johannesburg Fashion Week.

David Tlale rocks the Johannesburg Fashion Week.

David Tlale goes green!

David Tlale goes green!

Thula Sindi’s Collection

Thula Sindi’s Collection

Sun Goddess @ Audi Joburg Fashion Week 2008

Sun Goddess @ Audi Joburg Fashion Week 2008

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Designer Hot Stop: Carla Unegbu (UJU Fashions)

Carla Unegbu is the fuel source behind Uju Fashions. Her clothes make you smile and call you to seek your own classic style. This bella is located  in Vancouver , Canada. So she is a Canadian Designer with African inspirations. The label was born after a trip to Africa. The designs are very versatile and easily look exemplary on other ethnicities as well. Enter her world of  gorgeous African prints and elegant dresses fit for queens: Check her out here.

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This one was my favorite. 

Classic African Vintage prints. Timeless piece.

Classic African Vintage prints. Timeless piece.

Look at those prints: 

Turquoise print is a night and day interchangeable convenience.

Turquoise print is a night and day interchangeable convenience.

Last but not least. Carla Unegbu is definitely bold, classic and all about highlighting the beauty in any woman: 

Compilation of UJU Fashion. Thanks @  Ymib.

Compilation of UJU Fashion. Thanks @ Ymib.

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