“IN A WORLD WHERE DIFFERENCES ARE INCREASINGLY EMPHASISED AND WHERE, PEOPLE ARE DIVIDED AND SEPA-RATED, IT SEEMED FITTING TO CELEBRATE THE, RICH BEAUTY THAT COMES FROM COMBINING MANY DIFFERENT INFLUENCES. WE, WANTED TO CELEBRATE THE FACT THAT, DESPITE PAROCHIAL THINKING IN SOME, QUARTERS, THE WORLD IS BECOMING MORE OF A MÉLANGE EVERY DAY,” SAYS, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF MILLE COLLINES, INÉS MILLE. “THEREFORE THE THEME, FOR THIS COLLECTION IS ‘WE BECOME ONE’.”
The collection shown at Salt River Studios, Cape Town, on 7 April 2017, as part of African Fashion International (AFI) – Official Page Mercedes, Benz Fashion Week Cape Town, is indeed proof that diverse cultures, and ways of crea tive expression can make a harmonious whole. Mille collines itself is proof that cross-pollination is a huge advantage when it, comes to design – Ines Mille and cofounder and creative director Marc Collines moved from Spain to set up shop in Kigali, Rwanda, before, relocating to Cape Town and joining forces with Kenyan designer, Namnyak Odupoy.
This collection takes its inspiration from the Swahili that live along Africa’s east coast. We were especially drawn to the fact that the Swahili culture is made up of African, Persian and Arab in fluences, expressed in the wood carvings in their architecture the colourful, kanga they wear and their natural woven hats and carpets,” says Collines. “It is an example of how the world is coming together and, how new interpretations of culture are coming alive today.”
Their AW17 collection is the latest iteration of their Essentials line that, has at its heart everyday comfort, clean shapes and a strong African, influence. This winter’s fit is very relaxed and flowy, inspired by the, coastal breeze, and the fabrics are predominantly crepes, matt satins and cottons contrasted with layers of heavier cotton knit jacquard., Taking their cue from the vibrant kanga designs, the tunic and shirt, dresses, knitted jackets and relaxed trousers are more colourful than, previous ranges. Lively prints offset neutral fabrics like the intricate, wood carvings that adorn the Lamu architecture and touches of bold, banana yellow and turquoise evoke the colours of the sea and beach., Mille collines fans will be happy to know that their typical monochrome, and neutral shades of grey and sand are there too and live along-side, the new vibrant blue and green designs with bold prints.
For the coming southern-hemisphere autumn/winter they have again, collaborated with three different designers that each bring a unique, perspective but nevertheless stay true to their African ethos. The prints, were done in collaboration with Japanese designer Tomoko Kotsuji, who has been working on the continent and particularly in Kenya and, Senegal. Her influence has brought a whole new element, and res-trained character to traditional Swahili kanga designs.
The new range of extra-large Maxi straw hats were conceived and created by Crystal Birch The Real Crystal Birch, designer, stylist and, milliner extraordinaire. “We love her creativity and how she is pushing, the limits of headgear with innovative shapes, proportions and, materials,” says Mille.
Purely Porcelain was asked to collaborate on their jewellery range and, the result is delicate, matt porcelain pieces mounted in brass cuffs, necklaces and earrings. The white porcelain too echoes the clean, white architecture found on Africa’s east coast and the shapes, textures and cut-outs stem from Swahili craftsmen’s elaborate hand, carvings. The collection will be available at mille collines stores in Nairobi, Kenya as well as online at millecollinesafrica.com