Prêt-À-Poundo: Eki Orleans' West African Desert Horizon

Read a short interview with Eki Orleans's about the new collection for Autumn/Winter 13.

Born in Germany, raised in Nigeria and educated in London, Hazel Aggrey-Orleans is the driving force behind the label Eki Orleans. Being exposed to so many cultures, it's easy to see the multi-sided influences on her designs. One thing that we always acknowledge is bold and vibrant colors — for Aggrey-Orleans, Eki Orleans is "best described as young, fresh, feminine and elegant simplicity" and, certainly, bold. Wspoke with Hazel below

Will you introduce yourself?

My name is Hazel Aggrey-Orleans. I am the designer behind Eki Orleans. The label was first started in 2007 with African inspired scarves and then towards the end of 2009 we launched our first fabric prints and designed our dress collections.

Eki Orleans Autumn Winter 13 Prêt-À-Poundo

What was your inspiration for this new collection?

The latest AW13 was inspired by the migration of butterflies towards the desert horizon. It was a continuation from our SS13 Butterflies collection. It's a journey of  [that] butterflies [take] through West Africa – you'll see a design similar to a river which represents the river Niger – up towards the desert. The butterflies gravitate towards the sun in the desert. With Eki Orleans, the prints tell the story and then the garments follow in line with the inspiration. We used orange and yellow, which are desert colours, as well as royal blue, a colour often worn by the locals in the north.

What materials do you use?


What is your masterpiece of this new collection?

The dress, which represents the whole inspiration behind this collection would be the one below as the prints are placed in such a way that you clearly see the migration of butterflies towards the desert sunset horizon.

Eki Orleans MasterPiece Autumn Winter 13 Prêt-À-Poundo

How are you feeling now that your collection has been released?

Once a collection is released, it is always a nervous feeling because you are putting yourself out there to be loved as well as criticised. I've learned that I cannot please everyone but as long as I'm true to the brand and we continuously release collections that are consistent and of good quality, I'm happy. There are collections I am more pleased with than others. As a designer, it's all about the state of mind you are in for the creative inspirations to flow. Generally, it's a sign of relief once a collection is out but also a realization that we need to start working on the next.


Which African singer or band would you like to see wearing one of your pieces?

Nneka Lucia Egbuna.

What do you think are the current trends for AW13?

I 'm probably not the right person to ask because I don't follow trends but I was pleased to see designers being more adventurous with their Autumn Winter collections in terms of adding colours. I particularly loved PPQ’s use of colours as well as Samantha Cole’s choice of vibrant prints. Prints are definitely still in this season.

What tips do you have for aspiring fashion designers?

I would say two things: 1) Make sure you have funding to last you at least 3 seasons as buyers want to see you grow before they start investing in your brand. 2) Make sure you have a USP (unique selling point). It’s not just about designing pretty clothes but clothes that tell a story. There are so many talented designers out there but what sets you apart from others is that something special that you offer which is unique to you.

Determination and hard work, as well as quick turnarounds are key. I often hear of talented designers when approached by potential buyers, press or stylists, fail to respond or deliver on time. They need to understand that fashion is a very competitive industry and if you don’t jump when an opportunity arises, you may loose that contact for good.

How does it feel to be featured in Prêt-À-Poundo?

It’s always a great pleasure to be featured on a new fashion site or magazine. This is our first feature on Prêt-À-Poundo and hopefully we will be able to please your audience with your designs.

Describe your AW13 in one word.


A word about Okayafrica.

Okayafrica is a great news site for Africans in diaspora.


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