Fashion design, according to Wikipedia is the art of the application of design and aesthetics or natural beauty to clothing and accessories.
Fashion design is influenced by cultural and social latitude, and has varied over time and place.
Fashion designers work in a number of ways in designing clothing and accessories such as bracelets and necklace, because of the time required to bring a garment onto the market, must at times anticipate changing consumer tastes, says Wikipedia.
Fashion designers attempt to design clothes which are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They must consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn.
Designs have a wide range and combinations of materials to work with and a wide range of colours, patterns and styles to choose from.
Malawi’s up and coming fashion designer Vanessa Nsona’s journey towards stardom may be long and winding, but she is slowly heading towards the crown as more recognition of her talent continues.
Recently, Samaritan Trust partnered Vanessa for a fashion design deal aimed at raising funds for the children at the trust.
Called Luso, the project is aimed at promoting designing talent while at the same time raising funds for the trust.
Proceeds from products she is making, including laptop bags and mobile phone pouches are shared between Dorovee Designs, her label and the trust.
And now, Vanessa has made one major break in her life.
She is among the nine Malawians on this year’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a high-status six week programme in 20 prestigious US universities followed by a conference in Washington, DC with President Barack Obama.
Inspired by her late mother, Vanessa came up with a sustainable fashion accessory line called Dorovee which is a combination of her name and her mother’s first name Dorothy; Doro + Vee.
“This name has a lot of meaning to me, the name Dorothy means God’s Gift and Vanessa means Beautiful so in essence Dorovee means God’s gift of beauty,” she says.
With passion and determination she taught herself handcrafting and designing skills.
“I make handcraft bags, jewellery, hair accessories, handbags, earrings, bangles, bowties, shoes, necklaces, laptop and phone sleeves that are uniquely designed through recycling materials and blending them with Malawian fabrics and natural resources such as using old car tyres and waste leather to make shoes, recycling paper to make beads and preserving dried seeds for beading,
“I actually specialise in making accessories rather than clothes. Apart from loving accessories, I have noticed that it’s an area that isn’t tapped into unlike the cloth making. As such, it’s been to my advantage to specialise in this area of fashion,” she says.
Vanessa describes herself as a young social entrepreneur passionate about the creative industry, thus fashion and art and in developing her community.
But how did she start designing?
“Fashion for me has always played a role in my life since I was young. My mum used to dress up and I loved it too. I used to cut up some of my clothes just to make them feel like my own design even though that would get me in trouble every time. So I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that.
“I established my fashion brand in 2012 but I’m still yet to have the official public launch. I used to save all my pocket money to buy small pieces of fabrics and would experiment in making hair accessories and then sold them to my college mates. The more I did the better I became,” she explained.
Vanessa also offers bridal fashion consultancy and handcraft bridal accessories which include fascinators.
Said the 22-year-old fashion designer: “The fascinators are designed in a range of colours, shapes, sizes and fabrics that are uniquely designed for weddings, engagements and other special events. My favourite fascinator are over the top custom- made fascinators where I make one of a kind designs for executive events that is different from the range of the existing.”
Her first breakthrough was in 2013 when she participated in the inaugural Malawi Fashion Week. This marked the beginning of her clothing line hitting the runway of Malawi fashion events as well as on the international scene.
“In 2013, I showcased at the Malawi Fashion Week. In April 2014, I exhibited my work at the Wedding Expo which happened at Mount Soche Hotel and before I knew it, I was selected for the Young African leaders. But I planned to showcase at the SADC Fashion Week happening in Harare, Zimbabwe this year,” she mentioned.
However, having missed her maiden appearance on the international fashion stage, another opportunity came knocking for Vanessa as she will be among an all Malawian line-up of fashion designers showcasing at events commemorating Malawi’s 50th independence this weekend organised by the Malawi Washington Association (MWA) at the Fillmore Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Other designers are Lilly Alfonso, Mwai Namaona of Nzika Wear and Cellina Mlusu-Torimiro.
“I can’t reveal what I’m showcasing before the main show, but people should expect a lot of Malawian cultural inspired designs to the accessories. My designs however, are Afro-centric, trendy, eco-friendly and handmade with a unique attention to detail.
“For me, beauty is not about the exterior but rather the inside and bringing the best out of something and that’s what this brand values. I value bringing the best out of Malawi, its creativity, culture and the people. You may wonder how I do that but I have a few projects one which includes actively searching, promoting and supporting local skills, talents through providing innovative design direction,” she mused.
Vanessa added; “Yes it is the first time I am showcasing outside Malawi. I feel humbled to be invited to showcase my work among top Malawian fashion brands Nzika Wear and Lilly Alfonso. It’s a great opportunity and I feel so blessed and thankful. I’m really excited to present my Afro-centric designs in the USA.”