Katungulu Mwendwa – One of Top Ten African Fashion Designers

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By Michael Kachitsa

Katungulu studied fashion in the United Kingdom where upon completion, she returned home to Kenya to pursue the creation of her own contemporary fashion line. According to her website blog page, she works from her home studio in Nairobi, where she sources inspiration from her surroundings and her day to day experiences. She is also heavily influenced by traditional cultures and attempts to create modern interpretations that are relevant to an urban environment.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 09: A model and fashion designer Katungulu Mwendwa walk the runway at the GenArt 14th Annual Fresh Faces In Fashion Presented By Moroccanoil on September 9, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for GenArt)

Born in Nairobi, Kenya Katungulu was raised by a base guitarist, architect and plant loving psychologist parents alongside her brother.  She spent much of her youth following around her late grandmother who ran and managed a curio shop in Nairobi that sourced work from artisanal groups that she worked closely with in their home town in Eastern Kenya. This left a lasting impression on Katungulu that has seen her working with community groups within the region to make pieces for her collection.

Experimenting with innovative fabrics, traditional methods and modern techniques, her timeless casual and semi-formal designs are fast gaining an international following. Katungulu Mwendwa designs timeless, transcendent casual and semi-formal wear that extends beyond any season.  Experimenting with modern techniques, innovative fabrics and traditional methods.

Her current collection “People of the Taboo” is both ideologically and stylistically an organic progression from the deconstructed nomad inspired forms she has previously explored. Her new oeuvre takes its main cues from the Wodaabe men of Northern Africa during the Geerwol festival an idea that is carefully developed into print. Soft structures are worked in linen and cotton blends into comfortable shifts dresses topped with tailored jackets. As with the shift dresses, the jackets are a post- modern incarnation of ethnic Dinka corsetry.