WAVING her kaleidoscopic wand, Project Runway darling Kahindo Mateene showcased her collection, titled “Colours of Goma” at this year’s AFI Cape Town Fashion Week.
Vibrant yellows, reds, oranges, blues and greens came together in a collection paying homage to her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The USbased designer, a familiar face on the hit TV show Project Runway, was in town to present her collection alongside some of Africa’s best designers. Mateene is also the founder of Kahindo a women’s readytowear design label based in New York City.
Showcasing the brand’s signature vibrant prints and bold colours in statement pieces for the progressive woman, the “Colours of Goma” collection comprised stylish bellbottom pants with front slits, kimonos, tailored suits, and widearm shirts in bold patterns.
In line with this year’s theme for AFI Cape Town Fashion Week, # IAMAFRICA, Mateene’s collection was inspired by her childhood memories of growing up in Goma.
“It has been 24 years and my soul yearns for Goma. This collection is about evoking the colours of home. Before the war, the volcanic eruption, the refugees, Goma was blue skies over a tranquil Lake Kivu, cows grazing on the lush green farms of Masis,” said Mateene.
Born in Uganda to Congolese parents, Mateene was exposed to different cultures at an early age. Her multicultural experiences are reflected in her designs. In 2009, she founded her brand with the aim of creating a line that infused the nostalgia and modernity of the two cultures of her upbringing Congolese and American.
She then completed the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Residence Program in 2011. In 2013, Mateene landed a spot as one of 16 contestants on Season 12 of the Emmy nominated show Project Runway.
“I see fashion as a vehicle for conveying cultural perspective and influencing societal norms and beliefs. I believe when you empower women, you empower a whole society and as a former Project Runway contestant in the US, I hope to be involved in the South African version,” she said.
Although Mateene’s pieces have been seen at New York Fashion Week, AFI MercedesBenz Fashion Week Johannesburg, Kinshasa Fashion Week in the DRC, Tribal Chic in Kenya, Lagos Fashion Week in Nigeria and HUB Fashion Week in Ethiopia, showcasing for the first time in Cape Town was a big deal for her.
“I was able to build relationships with fashion editors, celebrities and stylists and start establishing my brand in South Africa. I loved the work of other designers who were showcasing, especially Adele Dejak,” said Mateene.
She is keen to return to SA and expanding her brand in Africa. “Cape Town was the first step. Nigeria, DRC, Kenya and Mozambique are in my future. , I am also in talks with stockists interested in my pieces in SA. “I look forward to, showcasing in Joburg with AFI later this year,” she said. Check out Instagram @kahindo_nyc for more of Mateene’s latest collection.