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Austrian-Nigerian Designer Kenneth Ize Makes Spectacular Debut at Paris Fashion Week

The designer topped off his debut by having supermodel Naomi Campbell walk the runway.

Last night, Austrian-Nigerian fashion designer Kenneth Ize debuted at Paris Fashion week and put on an undeniably spectacular show.

The designer wowed with his Autumn/Winter '20 collection and then topped it all off by having international supermodel Naomi Campbell walk the run way last and bring the show to a close.


Ize, who is also a 2019 LVHMH Prize finalist, brought to life the vibrant colors and rich textures of the aso oke material that he's become known for when creating his signature ensembles.

Speaking in an interview with Vogue about what had inspired his collection, Ize says:

"I tried to reflect back to the time when [my family and I] were in Africa and how things changed all of a sudden when we moved to Europe. My mother stopped wearing African outfits every day, only wearing them on Sundays. On Mondays, she would go to work in corporate clothing and be a completely different person. She was always so looking forward to Sundays because it was the only time she could really express where she was from and her culture."

Campbell took to social media to congratulate the designer after the show. In an instagram post, she wrote, "Congratulations [Kenneth Ize] on your first show in Paris today. I'm so proud of you. Beautiful collection, thank you. For the first time the seasonal collections in Paris have 3 AFRICAN DESIGNERS."

South African designer and winner of the 2019 LVMH Prize, Thebe Magugu, currently has a special presentation of his work at Paris Fashion Week while Cameroonian designer Imane Ayissi, according to TimesLIVE, made history by "becoming the first Black African designer to be admitted to the elite ranks of Paris haute couture".

Describing the massive opportunity to have Campbell walk the runway in his collection, Ize said, "I am living my dream. Naomi made this happen." Ize also went on to add that, "She has been part of the journey since day one. She is very supportive. She is my fairy godmother."

While Ize's feats on the Parisian runways bear testament to his considerable talent, his eponymous label undoubtedly laid the foundation years back.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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