UNITED KINGDOM-based designer Petronella Tayamika Mahachi, will next month participate at the prestigious Liverpool Fashion Week (LFW) scheduled for October 13.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
The designer, who prefers to be called Taya, which doubles as her brand name, said she felt introducing herself on the Liverpool scene, while still embracing her background by showcasing an African-inspired collection, would help her assert herself in the cut-throat industry.
She said although the platform is normally for big and well-known English designs, she also believed her designs are made for women that embrace individuality.
“I felt the need to introduce myself locally, while still embracing my background by showcasing an African-inspired collection. I also believe that my designs are made for women that embrace individuality regardless of ethnicity, colour or race,” she said recently from her Liverpool base.
“I am really excited about being a part of Liverpool Fashion Week this year. LFW typically showcases big local brands and well-known local designers but also gives unknown designers a platform.”
Taya said she was inspired by the way Zimbabwean designers were using social media to create their own success by marketing themselves and getting results without the need of an expensive website or marketing campaign.
“I know about a few designers in Zimbabwe. I have a fashion blog www.afroccentric.com and have interviewed some of them. There is so much talent in Zimbabwe, but not enough opportunities, resources and respect locally,’ she said.
Born in Harare to a Malawian father and Zimbabwean mother, Taya attended Martindale Primary School before enrolling at Regina Mundi and subsequently left the country 16 years ago.
Having always loved fashion from a tender age, her story is typical in that growing up in Zimbabwe she was encouraged to take up academic studies as fashion design was not seen as a career choice.
As a result, she relegated it to a hobby and pursued a career in accountancy instead. But as is always the case with a love lost re-tracing its steps, she found herself back in fashion design.
“I then started a business as a make-up artiste and beauty consultant, needless to say one thing led to another and I found myself pursuing a career in fashion five years ago,” she said.
“I have a love of prints and experimented with different prints and patterns, before falling in love with African prints. I love how versatile the fabric is, I use it not only to make clothes, but to make accessories as well. I love to embrace my cultural heritage, African prints are my starting point and there is so much more I still need to explore in terms of African craftsmanship and techniques.”
She said she sees her designs as a form of self-expression and a blend of cultures and is passionate about making African inspired fascinators.
“I see them as my form of self-expression. African headwear can be traced back to the 15th century, while fascinators can be traced back to the 19th century. I blend African with Western styles to create an African-inspired fascinator,” said Taya.
“I chose African prints for my debut collection as a way of embracing who I am and my background. I will be showcasing my debut collection at Liverpool Fashion Week on October 13. I have some charity fashion shows lined up for 2016 and I am looking forward to showcasing a collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in South Africa.”
Taya described the Zimbabwe fashion industry as a “blank canvass” and said she would take up an opportunity to showcase at a local fashion show.
She said it was pivotal for locals to appreciate the works of local designers.
“There is so much talent in our country but I feel at the moment there are a few issues that need to be addressed.It is important that designers are exposed to a local and international platform. It is also important there are international buyers at fashion events, which also means that there has to be quality control in every process of the garment manufacturing process to meet international standards,” she said.
She challenged authorities to revive the textile and garment manufacturing industry so that designers do not have to flock to other countries for cheaper fabric.
“I would love to see ‘The Made in ZW’ brand on all our mass produced textiles and clothes,” she said.