Leah Mubwandarikwa, the petite 38 year old Zimbabwean beauty, and the CEO of Leah African Designs, a UK based outfit that specialises in a wide range of bespoke African haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles ranging from evening dresses, cocktail gowns, bridal wears and various beautifully tailored clothes is an electrifying show stopper in the African fashion business. To the 1994 fashion and designing graduate of Harare Polytechnic, it's all about creativity and her collection exudes glamour. Based on this, her collection largely focuses on luxury textiles, characterised by vibrant and colourful accessories. She recently launched her label in the UK which featured her latest collection of bespoke kaftans and African print blazers for both sexes. She plans to spread the exclusive creations beyond UK and across more African countries in 2014. Leah, whose inspiration centres around culture, cultural crafts, African fabrics and prints says she has always had passion for clothes right from her growing up years when she used to play with dolls, make clothes for them by cutting up and designing with her mother's tablecloths. Her versatile brand comes with a twist of Southern African contemporary ethnic designs. Leah has showcased her collection across Zimbabwe, South Africa, Germany, UK and USA.
She was our guest recently........
What is the fashion scene like in your home country?
The fashion industry in Zimbabwe seems to be growing rapidly and we are having a very good and positive contribution from The World Tourism Board. Zimbabwe has a few fashion activities across the board, Zimbabwe fashion week is one of the events that people love and embrace. It also boosts the textile industry in Zimbabwe.
What are you doing to project Zimbabwean Fashion?
We are projecting Zimbabwean Fashion through charity events. Leah African Design (LAD) is working closely with other amazing fashion designers who are based here in the UK and in Zimbabwe. We are organizing a charity fashion show event early next year as a platform to sponsor some of the less privileged children/orphans in Zimbabwe. In July 2013, LAD hosted an official launch of our summer collection and 20% of all the proceedings on the night were shared equally to charity organizations like the Girl Child Network (Betty Makoni), African Mothers' Foundation (Bekezela Nsigo) and United Women's Club.
What is the typical fashion wardrobe of a Zimbabwean woman without the contemporary?
A typical Zimbabwean woman is very comfortable in her dressing, classy, elegant and unique with designs, without the contemporary. But the modern Zimbabwean ladies work in offices so they feel more comfortable in dressing in exclusive,executive wears. African print blazers/floral blazers are a big hit in Zimbabwe.
Where would you say Zimbabwe is on the fashion map?
Zimbabwean designers are working so hard to see the Zimbabwean fashion scene on the world map. I have created some garments that have attracted a lot of audience from all over the globe. I can confidently say that Zimbabwe's fashion is global and well recognised on the Map.
Who are your role models in the designing world?
My role models are :Alexander Mcqueen, Kate Moss, Kimora Lee Simmons and Adebayo Jones,
What would you say is the most satisfactory show you have ever done?
A lot. I have hosted a lot of great shows: Miss Zim USA, Miss Zim Germany, Miss Zim UK, Durban SA Fashion Week. I was invited to showcase at the World Tourism Summit in Zimbabwe and I also hosted my official summer collection/launch in the heart of London. They have all been satisfactory.
Different women have different crazy passions. What is your weirdest one?
My weirdest passion is changing my hairstyle every friday of the week. I do my best to keep up with the trendy hairstyles out there all the time.
What does Fashion mean to you?
Fashion is my life. I was born with a great passion for fashion. I eat and breathe fashion. I believe one's beauty is defined by accepting and embracing one's identity and mine is being an amazing fashionable African woman.
What is your lifestyle like?
I was brought up from a humble and loving family. My life style is simple. I work very hard and I play hard too. As a wife/sister/mentor, I am a role model to all the young girls out there.
Why do you wear what you wear?
I wear what I wear because I feel fab in them and I am my own designer.
NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR WARDROBE? CALL LEAH ON +447915017056