Category: Africa

High light..


Do you get the time to breathe these days? The air after rain – a crackling fire – or a newly delivered Christmas tree? If you’re a smell person, these things matter because they’re memories, the past and future colliding like smoke in the air.  I love the power of fragrance – how it can become the essence of a person left to linger long after they’ve gone….and these are three of my favourites.

Bal D’afrique by Byredo is described as a warm and romantic vetiver inspired by Paris in the late 20’s and its infatuation with African culture, art, music and dance.  It’s an evocative mix of neroli, African marigold and Moroccan cedarwood.



Oi All In One Milk by Davines is a leave in, frizz controlling conditioning hair spray containing Roucou oil.  But why just use it on hair? It’s a beautifully fragranced, soft, light moisturiser for all over the body.


Emulsified with extra soothing rose extract to help ease irritation and condition the skin, Rose Salve by C.O.Bigelow is the sort of product you need to always have in your bag.  Use on lips, face, cuticles, elbows, knees and any chapped skin because it’s a little winter wonder.


Fragrances: Dreams that live in reality. Enjoy.

Laters, Kate x





Penny Winter x



Looking through old posts is a bit like looking through an old address book – you see people you must catch up with again.  I wonder what Penny Winter is doing now..

It’s rare that I don’t use my own words for a post…but then Penny Winter is a rare beast and an endangered species.  I first came across her work when exploring one of my favourite Labels Edun – for their SS14 Collection she designed and produced the horn & crystal neck cuff as worn by Helena Christensen above at her workshop in Nairobi and it piqued my interest.  So in her own words – because nothing should be left out – please meet the incredible Penny Winter…

‘I was born in Belfast and grew up there through our ‘troubles’. After studying costume design and corsetry at LCF I landed my first job at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford where I was making period costumes and pattern drafting for the theatre.I moved back to London and took a similar job at the English National Opera, before the big move to Kenya.My boyfriend at the time was a journalist and we together with our backpacks moved out without looking back.I fell in love with Kenya, he didn’t and left after a few months. 
(Photo Touko Sipilainen)
My corserty came into play thereafter, I started a small workshop making  18thcentury shaped corsets from vintage Africa cloth, Bacuba cloth from Congo,raffia from Ivory Coast, snakeskin,fishskin, and Maasai inspired beaded corsets.We,(Paul, my now husband and I) travelled all over central and west Africa on the lookout for interesting trims and weaves.People heard about these unusual pieces and I produced a lot of them  for cool weddings, big parties, and people also just bought them to hang in their bedrooms as art.During this time I worked on films such as The Constant Gardener, The Last King of Scotland,and local tv productions.Since then the workshop has grown and we make clothes for the Kenya jetters and international clients. Our signature coat, the Audrey coat which in it’s original form was  handwoven wool/linen with a beaded cuff, has evolved and can be found this season in dark burgundy velvet.We are also known well for our evening dresses which tend to be of a more bohemian style. Our clients include names such as Uma Thurman,Sylvia Fendi, Helena Christensen, and one of our gowns was at Buckingham palace for William and Kate’s wedding evening party.
 African Jewellery, Tribal Jewellery, Kenyan Jewellery, Raw Amethest Labradite Ruby Rubies Black Turmaline Afican Sapphire White topaz Light horn, Dark Horn, gold, faceted Stone, Labradorite, Bone, Moonstone Agate, Rutilated Quartz,Labradorite ring
In 2007 we were approached by SUNO to start their brand here which we got up and running, we produced the first six collections for them. In addition to  the fashion label I co-design and produce the Ashley Pittman collection sold in Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, a feat against odds as we are constantly struggling with power outages,water shortages etc, and the day to day chaos of running a large scale, hand crafted business in central Nairobi. I employ around 200 people who take great pride in selling their work I design in top stores around the world.I work closely with our various teams whether it be a horn workshop in rural Kenya, to downtown chaos, busy and noisy, but always fun. I take most pride in the fact I have through relentless efforts, managed to instill the discipline  and work ethic it takes, to our teams to work in the real world, providing top notch products which they can take pride in, on time, without any form of charity.We are competing with world known brands, except without any of the advantages, in Africa.
This is my first solo jewellery collection, outside of my Ngong House boutique, which is my husband’s small hotel, on the outskirts of Nairobi, just under the Ngong Hills. 
My husband Paul and I have three children.(Charlie, Leyla and Amber). Apart from our work, we have built a clinic and a primary school, thanks to charitable donations in the Kibwezi area of rural Kenya, where we also have a defunct farm and tree plantation.We found the place around ten years ago on a trip back from Kilimanjairo, camped there and now have large safari tents which we use instead of a house.The clinic now has a catchment area of about 70mile radius, there are absolutely no other medical facilities in this area, and we are currently developing a maternity wing. Holidays are mainly at Amber House Lamu, which we restored from a 300year old Swahili villa, in the Old Town Lamu. My passion is sailing so that’s what I do when I go there.’



She is one of those truly remarkable people that inspires just by breathing.  I can’t help but wonder when a film of her life will be made…

In awe, Kate x

Banjooli x


There are three things that caught my roving eye with this remarkable collection of garden furniture designed by Sebastian Herkner for Moroso..


1. They’re brilliantly inspired by the mating dance of male ostriches – (or ‘banjooli’ in Wolof tongue) – who stretch out their wings to show off to the ladies.

2. They’re produced by African craft weavers using fishing net yarn.

3. They make me smile.16916cadac51aa0b7ddafc1815be5d69 802c863a630d64f6a4b4b58a374b8cd3 47365127acae1ed3c1fa6c0626a293f9 e112e9c0eb71e021b99a58a6aff8b154


Herkner says, they may be based on birds, but they are human in their perfections and flaws.  Mi piace.

Laters, Kate x

Duro Olowu x


London based Nigerian designer Duro Olowu has his own unique aesthetic.

Duro_Olowu_002_1366.683x1024 Duro_Olowu_005_1366.683x1024

Prints inform the story, but you don’t have to choose between smart and boho..


Duro_Olowu_006_1366.683x1024 Duro_Olowu_008_1366.683x1024

He has a mastery for mixing colour and pattern, but there’s still sub clause stacked against sub clause.  He says: ‘I have always believed that a garment is irresistible not only because of the label but rather because of the love and attention in it’s composition.’


He makes it easy to keep your cool with a simple shot of bright energy.


And creates clothes that love the female form.


Oh how I’d love to see Kate Middleton in this one..


(photos by Luis Monteiro)

His clothes sing like a mezzo soprano over an African drum beat, gently crooning there’s nothing shallow about feeling good, confidence is the most attractive thing – just go out and have fun..

Laters, Kate x

Simply Made x


Made was born from a desire to create beautiful products using traditional time-honoured skills and fashion led design:  Made believe that people really matter, that if you look after the employees it translates through into what they make.  It’s a meeting of beautiful thinking and beautiful doing where object and intention come together to create something truly special and unique whilst embracing cultures, personalities and genuine gorgeousness..925122eb75242e15c5269b2d4a0155c5  They are also dedicated to using the most environmentally friendly products possible: Their signature style comes from an extensive use of reclaimed brass which has a warmth and a softness unlike any other metal. 979c143941558a0f515878533f55f2c9 But what makes them standout is the balance between tradition/friend of the earth and cutting edge fashion: Their sharp design skills come from a willingness to collaborate with some of the best the fashion and design world has to offer – Edun, Lois Vuitton, Whistles, Asos, TopShop to name just a few, all adding to a sense of continual growth and exploration of ideas. a56747c0008da73ab12b9dd2b2f6e21d

I particularly love these pieces by Imogen Belfield, already touted by Vogue as an up and coming designer, her designs have a sense of presence and tactileness that make them exceptionally appealing: They’re a little bit of sunshine… 0a810f8f6d0956952fca3735aff42eb9

Mi piace..


Time to stand outside the circle.

Laters, Kate x

Agnes and Lola x




This is one of my secrets.  The website Agnes & Lola, originally born of a love of two things: independent fashion and the diverse cultures across the African continent.




It’s the perfect browse if you need a bit of spice.


Re-defined classics that offer a ready-to-wear alternative to the cloning of the High Street.  And sensible prices too..I’ve just ordered these, reduced from £55 to £25…

Teal-patterned-shirt_large chain_pants_large


I look at these, and all I can think of, even though I have never met her is my blogging friend Fashion Mayann! They just have her name on them!
MaXhosa-by-Laduma-AW2014_C_large laurence1_large


Let colourful be your personality.  Why should the men have all the fun? I want these trousers..



Just accessories with a smile!

Laters, Kate x

Ticked off the List..


Who am I to preach impulse control? Three skirts for summer hey…that’ll be 2 bought then…Not from conventional shops so I’ll see how they arrive before giving a shout out…but I’m in lust. (And just in case you’re worried..the one above will be shorter…)




Not exactly conventional skirts either – so much character, colour and heart.  I’ve always had a thing about African material and I’ve wanted to find a way to incorporate it into my wardrobe.  The contrast between the traditional-midi-Audrey-Hepburn-style-skirt and the fabric makes me laugh with joy.  Perfect for transeasonal dressing with a denim or white shirt – or with tees in the summer..Can you tell I’m excited?!


Except my shirts are not in a good place….hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..

Laters, Kate x

Edun Mark 2 x


The most attractive thing is always talent.

_ON_0151.683x1024 _ON_0199.683x1024

Danielle Sherman Creative Director of Edun is, season by season creating and expanding the visual language of this ethical label.


Building it block by block – the inspiration Africa, the journey a clear path: Her palette is clean, simple and continuous which means that like the materials she uses, pieces can be woven together.


Take her SS14 Collection..everything can be seamlessly added as an extra, rich layer – more shapes to play with.  More weather changes to adapt to. It’s clever, it’s thoughtful. It’s sustainable in your wardrobe.


She answers ‘Who am I?’ before ‘What shall I buy?


And 85% of the this Season was made in Africa.


Unlike Karl, Danielle gets the sneaker aesthetic to perfection.


Simple but with intelligent, creative twists – a juxtaposition here, the unexpected there.  She’s not trendy..she’s effortless.

Laters, Kate x

The Sapeurs.. xxx


Suave and sophisticated, the title Sapeur comes from la SAPE, an abbreviation of Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes – The Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People. Over the past twenty five years it’s emerged as a brightly coloured African subculture inspired by the myth of Parisian elegance and Dandyism.


Mostly centred around Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the adjacent Capitals of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo respectively, the Sapeurs cultivate their refined gentility amid their countries war-torn, extreme poverty.


But despite this nations history, Sapeurs are pacifists – for them style is about being respectful with a pure attitude and impeccable manners.


Creativity is paramount – although many will spend whatever they have on clothes,  it’s not about the money, it’s about style and being flamboyant in oneself, despite the circumstances.


(All the pictures above by Baudouin Mouanda)

They are ordinary people, with ordinary jobs who break free by transforming their dusty pavements into fabulous fashion runways. But the truth is these characters are teachers, creatures of spirit with a powerful, requisite flair and passion.


(Photo by Hector Mediavilla)

Sharp and sly, like poetry in motion with their hearts turned to the sun, they demand that there can be great riches in small spaces..their irresistible sense of pride says you can be whatever you want to be…and sometimes we all need that fairytale.

The Congolese Sape

(Photo by Hector Mediavilla)

A very short documentary – worth watching! x

To those that say their style is part of a legacy of cultural imperialism and a post-colonial carry-over they say:

‘White people invented the clothes..but we turned them into an art form’

Personally, I doff my bright yellow trilby to them.

Laters, Kate x