I first saw this dress in the window display at the Mille Collines’ shop in The Village Market. It was the glinting details on the bodice that caught my eye but I couldn’t quite make out what they were. A closer inspection, and I mean nose-against-glass close, revealed the most delicate, intricate beadwork.
This dress, The Kijani, was made in the Mille Collines atelier in Nairobi from crêpe silk and is part of the Afropolitan label’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection entitled “Curio|City”. This dress and the other 3D beaded cocktail gowns in this collection were embellished with beads by a group of 25 Maasai women in the heart of Maasailand.
The brand describes this collection as “cosmopolitan, elegant and artisanal” and is the first collection released since Kenyan designer Namnyak Odupoy joined the Mille Collines design team of Inés Cuatrecasas and Marc Oliver.
The designs draw inspiration from curio shops found throughout the continent that the designers feel are disconnected from modern Africa, but nonetheless appreciate the nostalgia associated with them. And so with this collection they reinterpret what non-Africans consider 'African' into attire befitting cosmopolitan and globalised African women.