Malawi is one of the countries whose fashion industry is still in its infancy. But despite the slow steps that the country is taking, there are few key players who have kept the dream of making Malawi a fashion powerhouse alive.
One of those players is Ekaree Daniella who has kept pushing the boundaries to make her mark in the fashion world.
“I draw my inspiration from people’s personalities and from my perspective of what would help bring out the best in them. I blend our traditional prints into forward-thinking designs to show the world that Africa fashion is ready to take up space,” said Daniella who trades as House of Daniella.
Describing her journey, Daniella, who has been a designer for the past six years, said most of her designs are unique and tailor-made for individuals.
“No two people wear the same print and design,” she said.
Her journey as a fashion designer has taken her to African Fashion and Arts Festival in 2017 and 2019. She has also worked with brands such as Castel Malawi.
“While I was a psychology student, I used to author a blog which was all about my fashion thoughts. I would make outfits which my friends would model in and take photographs which later I would share on the blog,” said Daniella.
She said during her first major fashion showcase at the African Fashion and Arts Festival in 2017, she was humbled to receive recognition from one of her role models in the industry, Lilly Alfonso.
“When my runway set was completed, I received a standing ovation and acknowledgement from Lily Alfonso. Lily being the matriarch of fashion and design, I was humbled. This showed me that I belong here and this is my comfort zone,” said the designer.
She also won the UMP Award as best designer in 2018.
Commenting on her nomination, Daniella said it is a dream come true since the award targets all artists from Africa.
“I was ecstatic. This is a dream come true for me. I have given my heart and soul to fashion and see God show up for me as well as the fashion industry,” she said.
Daniella said her UMP win helped to raise her profile and she is now appreciated in Malawi and hopes the Zikomo Award will expose her to the continent.
“To win a Zikomo award would not only give me a chance to fly the Malawian flag internationally, but show young girls that you can be anything you set your mind to,” she said.
On whether Malawians have embraced fashion, Daniella said yes.
Ekaree said: “It is heart-warming to see how Malawians have embraced the beauty and warmth of our own fabrics and also that ladies have normalised having their clothes designed and done locally.
“As a designer I always strive to make outfits that will bring out one’s personality and highlight all their strengths. I am here to satisfy those needs and bring out the best in terms of their dressing.”
Reacting to the news, House of Daniella and fashion enthusiasts congratulated her on the nomination and her impressive designs.
Wrote Mary Mkulichi: “This is a good development as it shows that the art of creating fashionable outfits is finally big in Malawi. Having designers from Malawi being nominated for a Zikomo Award is a stamp of approval that we are doing something right.”
According to www.zikomoawards.com, the Zikomo Awards seek to celebrate art in Africa. The awards headquarters are in Zambia, but nominees are taken from the rest of the continent.
To vote for Ekaree Daniella, people can go to www.zikomoawards.com on the list of nominees for Best Female Designer of the Year Africa.