We talk to Ghanaian designer Marie Kipre ahead of her VFW showcase.
MM: Can you introduce your brand?
Marie: Nadrey Laurent is a luxury Ivorian fashion brand based in Ghana. Our goal is to enrich the fashion world with unique, elegant, high end quality pieces with cultural inspirations. I have always wanted to create a fashion brand that would connect people, wherever they may be from, while promoting my beautiful African heritage. I therefore always use a mix of rich colours, bold prints, and fabrics of diverse origins.
MM: What sparked your interest in fashion? How did you come to be a designer?
Marie: I have always loved fashion from as far back as I can remember. Dressing well and being stylish is essential to me. My father's classy and effortless chic style has always inspired me. Creating my own fashion company became a natural thing to do.
MM: Your designs boast beautiful bright colour palettes, where do you find inspiration for colour?
Marie: Everywhere. Colour is everywhere... And colour is life, joy, feelings! The theme of the collection I am working on always guides me in selecting colours. And again, Africa is a very colourful place, with vibrant and diverse cultures...I can't do without colour even though I am a huge fan of black and white.
MM: What is the inspiration behind your F/W 18 collection?
Marie: The inspiration behind the collection I will be presenting in March is clerical. I fell in love with Cardinal Richelieu’s style; it's so elegant and impressive. Also I looked to the black and white attire of intimidating Catholic nuns, and one nun in particular, Louise, also known as the Black Nun of Moret. Once again, we are challenged to create a style to fuse these historical figures with our own cultural background.
MM: Can you describe your creative process? How do you start a new collection?
Marie: There is no specific way for me to start designing a collection. Sometimes it is the theme that triggers the whole thing- the shapes, the prints, the colours, the fabrics... Sometimes it is a print or an idea of a print, the shades of colours we can use to make it come alive that will start the design process... It could also be people around me, a movie, a story...
MM: What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?
Marie: One of my favourite parts is to conceptualise the collection. I love to research subjects that interest me, that inspire me. Then, after selecting a theme, developing a story and bringing it out through sketches, shapes, silhouettes, colour palettes, prints and textures is very exhilarating. Going through markets to fetch fabrics and trimmings is another favourite part for me. It is also very rewarding to finally see the garments coming to life in the atelier. Adding here, removing here, embellishing, ... with the model trying pieces on, wearing them. The thought of being able to create something that will enhance beauty, boost confidence, and help someone feel good is awesome.
MM: Do you prefer to design the women's, bridal, or men's category? Are there different challenges for each?
Marie: I definitely prefer designing for the everyday woman. I feel more comfortable designing for women, it comes more naturally to me. I can easily imagine them picking a dress to work, a movie, a cocktail party, a wedding, her wedding. Designing for men seems more challenging at times even though it is very appealing.
MM: In a word, how would you describe the city of Accra in Ghana where your brand is based?
Marie: Accra is a vibrant and fast moving African city. Moreover, everybody here seems to be creative. Then it is a challenge to enter the fashion industry; you really have to prove yourself.
MM: Does presenting on an international platform such as Vancouver Fashion Week give you a renewed insight into your own native background and culture?
Marie: Definitely yes! Vancouver Fashion Week is the biggest platform Nadrey Laurent has yet to showcase on. We take it very seriously presenting our work to the public, and we work very hard for the experience to be memorable for all. It is an incredible opportunity to reach a wider audience this time around. It is huge! Like I said, my goal is to offer exquisite pieces and to promote my beautiful African heritage both at once. So VFW is a challenge that pushes me to sharpen my collection, make it even more unique but at the same time still reachable, understandable by all.
Thank you Marie for showcasing your beautiful African heritage through your contemporary collections. You have sourced incredibly interesting inspiration points! MM readers, what do you think of the Nadrey Laurent designs?