Jamil Walji, the multi-lauded Kenyan designer’s (he has been nominated for Swahili Fashion Week’s designer of the year and the East African designer of the year) new collection is his first foray into couture style fashion, forgoing his usual use of ankara pastiches in lieu of detailing in his previous work. As a graduate of fashion design from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Walji is better equipped than most designers to create masterpieces and this he does with Schimputai.
Right off the bat, there are some similarities (mostly in styling and some details) with fellow contemporary Loza Maleombho, but this is about where it ends. The collection is an avantgarde exploration of femininity, mixing and matching fabrics and layering them to create exaggerated shapes.
Walji isn’t afraid to pile on the fabric, and he does so with a shiny pleather train and art silk skirts that work slinking against the model’s body but would work just as well puffed out with a bustle. The Walji woman this season is one with places to go and something to prove and her dresses speak the part.
He gives us unconventional silhouettes with cowl necked blouses layered with a pleated bodice for volume. He drapes swaths of chiffon around the collar of fishtailed dresses with flared sleeves, creating high drama worthy of a red carpet darling. Even when he dials back the drama in a ‘simple’ fit and flare dress, he colour blocks, mixing blush pink side panels with a full black satin skirt and black bodice embroidered in silver thread. But even with someone as experienced as Walji’s, his tailoring (and finishing) on some of the pieces is a total let down, denting what would otherwise be a truly adventurous collection.
But ultimately Walji’s only challenge is himself, and comparing his new work to his previous collection, this is a challenge Walji is winning.
Shimputai By Jamil Walji
Jamil walji couture
Model: Juliet Kiruhi