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Stylish Heels MO SAÏQUE Luxury Handcrafted Footwear

Afua Dabanka is a woman after my own heart, she just loves her some shoes, with the difference being that whilst I just drool over whatever fabulousness comes my way, she gets to design and make them under her luxury handcrafted footwear label MO SAÏQUE. A banker turned footwear designer, Afua was born in Germany to Ghanaian parents and now resides in London, where MO SAÏQUE is based. [Images Credits: Hakuun, Miami Beat Collection – MO SAÏQUE]

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African Fashion Store My Asho Colourful Patchwork Clutches

Spotted on the online African fashion store My Asho a limited edition collection of colourful patchwork clutches, just in time for spring. Handcrafted by the Nigerian accessories label Gidan Nodza, a myriad of mismatched printed and hand dyed fabric or leather patches are combined to form the bags. All styles are fully lined and a zip closure completes the look. Head designer Amina Adefala scours local markets for the leather, and the fabric is printed locally produced using traditional techniques like resist dyeing. The patchwork nature of the designs means each bag produced is unique. The patchwork collection extends to totes […]

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Contemporary African Inspired Accessories Uphold Traditional Craft

Meaning ‘good’ in Maa, the language of the Maasai, ‘Sidai’ is the name given to a business creating contemporary African inspired accessories by infusing traditional beading with modern aesthetics. The company was inspired by a visit to Arusha, in Northern Tanzania. Sidai Designs was founded by, Eszter Rabin, a graphic designer turned artisan entrepreneur living in California, and Emanuel Melubo Laizer, a Maasai Warrior from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Northern Tanzania. Discovering a mutual interest in working with underserved communities, Emanuel and Eszter joined forces in 2009 to share ideas, and after several visits to Maasai communities launched Sidai Designs in 2011. […]

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Uru Diamonds Ethical East African Jewellery And Fashion Accessories

It is no secret the African Continent is blessed with diamonds that are coveted the world over, and harnessing this mineral wealth should come with social responsibilities. However, as we all know this is not always the case, especially when it comes to conflict free diamonds. East African jewellery company, Uru Diamonds based in Tanzanian is a company that works with conflict free diamonds and precious stones, to produce contemporary jewellery collections. The company name ‘Uru’ comes from a very old Swahili term describing a powerful essence; used here to invoke the days of ancient African Kings and Queens where diamonds were […]

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From Kenya W Love – African Fashion Pop Up Shop

On Tuesday evening I braved the cold and made my way towards Covent Garden, Monmouth Street to be exact, where fashion boutique, Sapellé was holding a press evening to celebrate their pop-up in collaboration with the Festival for African Fashion and Arts (FAFA Kenya). A lovely evening, in attendance were Daphne Kasambala founder of Sapellé; Ann McCreath, the co-founder of FAFA Kenya and the Kenyan fashion label KikoRomeo; and Hebret Lakew of Kenyan fashion label, Kooroo, all on hand to chat about their work.

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Interview With Souadou Barry of Fulani HB Luxury Handbags

Last year in March, I introduced Fulani HB luxury handbags and accessory line based in the US which utilises beautifully woven traditional Senegalese fabrics. I recently caught with the designer, Souadou Barry to chat about her latest Autumn/Winter collection, gaining an insight into her inspirations, processes, and the woman she designs for.

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LA DiOSA Luxury Statement Jewellery for Modern Goddesses

LA DiOSA is a London-based luxury statement jewellery design company that seeks to empower women, by designing signature statement jewellery, featuring colourful chunky gemstones in celebration of modern Goddesses everywhere. LA DiOSA was founded in 2007 by Ugandan-born Natasha Faith, and Semhal Zemikael born to Ethiopian/Eritrean parents; friends who first met whilst studying Philosophy, and now create their gorgeous designs from a showroom in Hatton Garden, London’s famed jewellery quarter. A combined interest in fashion, led the duo to exploring the idea of creating and selling their own jewellery. The name’ La Diosa’, means ‘Goddess’ in Spanish and as the name […]

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Functional And Fashionable East African Leather Products

From a factory based on the outskirts of Karen, in Kenya, high-quality leather, suede and canvas materials are expertly crafted into a range of stylish personal and travel East African leather products. The factory is the home of Rift Valley Leather, a local company that through its products, actively works to promote local handcrafting skills; and takes care to utilise materials, like camel and calf hides, that have been sourced exclusively in the East African region.

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African Design Roots in Shimmering Sculptural Jewellery

Fluid, sculptural pieces formed out of shimmering gold and silver metals combined with African design are defining characteristics of Algerian designer, Taher Chemirik’s striking jewellery pieces, which include bold, oversized cuffs and giant links that form statement chokers. Hailing from a family of designers, Taher describes his upbringing as ‘unconventional’, and cites his sources of inspiration as being his African roots, Oriental sophistication, modern art, and the antiques he collects in Paris’ famed flea markets; the city he now calls home. [Image credit: Choker – Taher Chemirik/Artsy]

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Azza Fahmy Egyptian Jewellery Brand Inspired By Culture And Tradition

7000 years of Egyptian culture and tradition embodies the luxury jewellery collections of Egyptian jewellery brand, Azza Fahmy, whose elegant, statement designs you cannot help but visualise adorning the necks and wrists of Cleopatra and Nefertiti, Egypt’s legendary queens. Like the ancient culture that influences it the Azza Fahmy jewellery brand is elegant and regal, featuring handcrafted intricate detailing in gold and silver precious metals, and vibrant, shimmering gemstones, that help lend a contemporary edge. [Image credit: Six Strand Floral and Fruits Collection – Azza Fahmy]

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Thuthuka Modern South African Jewellery Development Programme

In September I visited International Jewellery London to see what was happening in the world of jewellery. It was dazzling to say the least with a range of businesses from precious gem dealers to independent emerging designers. Several countries had trade exhibition stands showcasing the designs and opportunities with their various sectors, and stopping by the South African pavilion, I got chatting with several of the individual designers and business representatives. Amongst them was Thuthuka, a South African jewellery development programme that was founded in 2009, and is an initiative of South African based organisation Jewellery Africa.

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Bundu Bags South African Made Fashion Accessories

I do like messenger bags for their practical functionality, given they are usually roomy enough to store a laptop or iPad, and the South African made fashion accessories by Bundu Bags offer a trendy range sporting a cool retro vibe, one that calls to mind Graphic Art, specifically the ’60s trends of Op Art and Mod style. Bundu Bags’ collections also include beach bags, totes and cute bags for kids. Employing traditional basket weaving techniques, Bundu Bags are made from commercial recycled cargo strapping, upcycling a product that would most likely end up in landfills.

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Stylish Clutch Bags Fusing European And African Culture

Whilst browsing the online fashion accessories site Boticca, I came across a feature on London based luxury handbag and fashion accessories label, Solomon Appollo who have a gorgeous, colourful range of ‘hard to choose one’ clutch bags that fuse European and African culture. Designed by Ozie Amadi, a graphic designer turned fashion accessories designer who was born and raised in East London; Solomon Appollo is all about cute and convenient stylishness. Solomon Appollo combines Ozie’s European upbringing and her Nigerian culture and heritage, factors, which are a major influence on her design aesthetic.

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Maji Umbrellas Take Cover And Help Provide Clean Water

Living in the UK with its unpredictable weather, it goes without saying having an umbrella is a necessity and it is easy to through many in quick succession in the course of a year, hoping each new purchase will serve its purpose of keeping you dry and be not blown away when confronted with a bit of wind. Inevitably there are many styles to choose from, and the latest entry in the market is Maji Umbrellas whose ethos is to create sturdy, stylish umbrellas that do more than just keep you dry. [Image credit: Maji Umbrellas – left, Moonshade; right Blue Sahara]

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Maya Antoun Traditional African jewellery Making Techniques

Fluid, sculptural forms interlaced with segments of fine filigree work defines the stunning jewellery creations by Sudanese designer Maya Antoun. Based in the UK, Maya seeks to combine traditional African jewellery making techniques with contemporary ones to create a new vision for African jewellery, and indeed the wider context of her work, which is influenced by the diversity of cultures, reflected in her own culturally diverse upbringing and exploring the ways in which individuals from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds might interpret their traditional jewellery, and in the process creating something new, fresh and exciting.

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The Shop At Bluebird Contemporary African Fashion Brands Pop Up

May/June this year saw South African luxury concept boutique, Merchants on Long pop up in London at The Shop at Bluebird. I was away during that time and just missed it, however those who visited were treated to some of Africa’s premier established and emerging contemporary African fashion brands including: Lalesso, SAWA, MaxHosa by Laduma, Bantu and Okapi. Okapi is a luxury handbag line produced in South Africa by Hanneli Rupert, the founder of Merchants on Long. [Image credits: Okapi]

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Savannah Chic Contemporary Jewellery Made In Africa

We may be entering Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere, but you can still hold onto the summer feeling with Savannah Chic’s range of contemporary jewellery made in Africa, including some vibrant bracelets from the company’s ‘Summer Love’ collection, which sees colourful Kikoy’s woven into necklaces and bracelets that conjure up the carefree spirit of Summer. [Image credit: Kikoy Bracelets – Savannah Chic]

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Koshie O Colourful African Print Fashion Accessories

Compact and colourful; New York-based fashion label Koshie O’s range of messenger bags make for perfect weekend African print fashion accessories. Just the right size for all your essentials, the Lady Splash Messenger Bag is made with a patchwork of bold and vibrant Ankara prints on the front flap, which is accessorised with a gold metal plated chain and logo detailing. Complementary plain canvas fabric on the back and straps provides contrast and leather detailing on the sides completes the design.

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Universal Fashion Ethiopia Hand Woven Accessories

Seeking a way to combine the three main passions in her life; the human spirit, fashion and social responsibility led medical doctor, Dr Amy Demissew, to set up Universal Fashion Ethiopia, a company which produces a range of personal and interior furnishings that are hand woven in Ethiopia. Amy sees fashion a universal theme in this world, noting that different culture have their own fashion identity uniting people, Amy who was born and raised in Ethiopia, now resides in the Netherlands; and remembers as a child designing and wearing her own creations. [Image credits: Universal Fashion Ethiopia]

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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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  • Colourful basketry, soulful sculpture and an elegant candle make a nice placeholder we think, as we prepare to usher in a new chapter of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Gifted hands. A glimpse behind the scenes of Kaross a South African based embroidery initiative, whose artisans transform furnishings into works of art. [📷 credit: Kaross]
  • Tools of the trade, a hand carved printing block stamp by textile designer @juliekouamo whose evocative designs tell the stories of cultures past and present. Julie's textiles feature richly layered patterns, textures and printed pictures that come together to create vibrant collages. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]
  • Fishermen's boats, a familiar sight along the Senegalese coast line. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]

Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive