“I have always had a passion for fashion, not fashion trends, but a love for clothing,” Mpho Kuaho, explained to The Sunday Standard last week.
Growing up, Mpho would take her mother’s old clothes and fashion them into something new. She has designed a dress that won her the established designer prize, amongst other designers from Lesotho, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania Zambia and Kenya at the Redd’s African Fashion Design Awards grand finale that was hosted in Tanzania on December 2, 2006. She says the winning design is a fruition of merging Redd’s Cold colours and her aspirations for her clothing brand, Jophes 09267. “The raised collar is a statement,” she said during a press conference to announce her victory in the boardroom at KBL, “It says the sky is the limit.”
Architect, Dilli Matenge, who was one of the three judges responsible for scoring through sketches for the ultimate African inspired dress that incorporated Redd’s colours had trendy words like ‘make-ability’, to descried Kuaho’s creations. He told the press conference that Kuaho’s garments impressed the judges because the “textures used were elegant, stylish, timeless and fresh and possessed wearability.”
Patricia Jalo and Lettie Bakwadi praised Kuaho’s dress for exhibiting her superb workmanship.
“It is a dress that could go to Hollywood and win,” said Jalo. “The rich use of Redd’s colours was good. ”
The dress, a visage of warm colours with ruffle detail on the skirt and on the Elizabethan (raised) collar, which sits on a chocolate coloured shirt that has a detail on the red outer collar that joins a band around the waist, an example of Jophes 09267’s look, as stated by Kuaho.
“Vintage mixed with haute couture and a bit avant guard,” she said. Kuaho emphasises that she is not particularly drawn to any textile but would work with any material she enjoys the feeling of.
Kuaho thanked Redd’s, the KBL’s Trade Marketing Manager, Sesupo Wagamang, his team and the judges for their ‘eye’ in selecting her dress.
“I actually dress both men and women,” said Kuaho, “It’s just that women make a majority of my market.” She has dressed Tshepo Maphanyane, Tshepo Ntshole and Miss Botswana 2004’s pageant contestants.
Wedding threads make up a significant market in Botswana’s fashion industry. Kuaho admits to having at one time sworn, “Who me, making wedding attire!” That was on her return from fashion school. But now she concedes that weddings have actually turned out to be a designers’ best friend “because gala events where high fashion could be worn are rarely hosted in Botswana.”
Between 2003 and 2005, she supplied Y Clothing Boutique, a trendy youth store that stood in Riverwalk.
And in line with Redd’s Premium Cold’s aim to launch Kuaho’s career internationally, she will be leave for Mozambique’s Fashion Week that will take place from the 12th to the 16th of December.
She won US$ 5000 prize money and then revealed an intention to invest in the curiously named Jophes 09267.
Branding her line of clothes ‘Jophes 09267′ is her way of paying homage to her husband, nicknamed Jophes. Kuaho says her husband is supportive and has played a significant role in encouraging the designer to realise her dreams. The ‘09267′ is Botswana’s international telephone code, and that is her way of ‘bringing the brand home.’
Redd’s have also scheduled a trip for her to the Cape Town Fashion week and a weeklong internship with an established international designer, as part of the prize for the designer who once interned for the Durban-based designer, Francois Vedemme.
The judges concluded the conference by saying aspiring designers should place value in adequately educating themselves to create world class work, because they believe the media has a tendency of underplaying the ‘blood and sweat’ needed to be shed to reach goals.
“A woman should have clothing items, that will last for 10 years in her closet and play around with accessories to create different looks,” says Kuaho. “I also believe that trends should be thrown out of the window and to follow one’s heart on what to and what not to wear.”