Thursday, May 14, 2015


One of my very best friends Hilda enlisted my personal shopping services to spice up her wardrobe with the addition of some Ankara pieces and I was all too happy to oblige. I've always loved bright colours and prints but steered away from African print outfits for 2 reasons,: (this is going to be a long rant so strap in. Or just skip to the images :)

Ankara, Batik and Kitenge samples in the store
1. African print experienced a revival in recent years and trend followers that ugandans are it exploded big time on the scene. Big time. Nearly every shop downtown stocks some variant of these mass produced skirts and dresses. Don't get me started on dashikis. I actually went as far as purchasing some dashiki fabric then upon encountering no less than 5 people donning the print on my way home that very day I decided to use the dashiki fabric as a kanga. I'm never one for the band wagon. But you know what they say...never say never.

2. Ugandan craftsmen are the worst! Seriously. Every time I want something custom made be it cushion covers, furniture or even a skirt I go with DETAILED instructions, illustrations, samples of materials etc, and the tailor/carpenter/hair dresser always assures me how they've understood what I want. Being a creative I usually don't over bargain their asking price and more than that pay over 75% of that upfront. Then the disappointments begin. First they miss deadlines. Second, they don't bother to reschedule and instead have you running up and down after them. All this hustle would be worth it for the dining set of my dreams though but here's the clincher; they invariably present something that's not only not what I wanted, but so poorly made that I can't even stomach taking it home. My money, time, energy and materials all go down the drain! 

And before you conclude its 'cause I go to the cheap unprofessional ones I'll have you know every single one of them comes highly recommended and they sure don't bill like rookies! So the jury is still out if my designs are simply too avant garde to comprehend.

Anyway there I was eschewing African print til I had to help out a friend. First I went and bought the materials for her approvals. Then I went to Bold and bought a few ready made pieces just so whichever seamstress I end up using knows it can be done and neatly too. It's not rocket science, it's your job. Then I got the recommendations, went over to their workshops and thoroughly inspected what they had on display. Check. Feeling really optimistic this time I hand over the fabrics and the money. Tailor 1 was so abysmal I nearly wept. After days of not picking my calls, being out when I would drop in, and when our schedules would finally line up make me undergo numerous fittings and alterations, I finally got the dress version of Lil Kim's botched surgery. You wear it because it cost a pretty penny, but it's definitely not what you thought you were paying for! Uuuuugh.

I'm smiling here but I wept on the inside upon first seeing this "finished" dress.
I'm always told in office how I over think things; I like my walls to be perfectly aligned, linear measurements to be round metres and not with 2 decimals or some such nonsense that builders can't accurately set out on site (unless its the golden ratio in which case, carry on),  angles - if that's what I'm going for - to share a relationship be it complimentary, adjacent or simply perpendicular. Let's just say I'm not a fan of Frank Gehry's work. (Not that he'll lose any sleep over that!)
Anyway knowing that about me you can understand why it infuriated me that after 4+ fittings I put on the finished dress to discover the pot motif of this print was facing down and not up! And the darts were not aligned! I could forgive all other errors in the execution to poor skills, but pots facing down??? Are you kidding me?! That is just laziness and frankly inexcusable!

I was feeling quite like Chimamanda here - all booky and in stylish African duds ;)

And then the angel that is Medina of Lakalatwe handed me this gem after only one fitting and within a week as promised I felt like waltzing all the way home! Everything was perfection - the fit, the seams, the hems, the stitches... and the back was straight out of my runway dreams!


Obviously wore it that very Sunday and had a mini photo shoot to celebrate Medina's magical fingers! With Hilda's approval of course since after all the praises I sang it she couldn't wait til it was shipped over to see it. I love this dress so much I immediately bought fabric and asked her to make me my own! As well as a bunch of other designs for Hilda. Professionalism's its own best selling point.
Peace and Love.

Dress: Lakalatwe, 3rd floor Krshna Mall, Kisementi || Fascinator & Jewelry: Gazaland || Shoes: PapleRayn || Book: Amazon

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