Designer Deepa Dosaja from Kenya exchanged with artisans Mumwa Crafts Association and Artisan Fashion from Zambia to create a bespoke look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange - an initiative for established and emerging fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills to deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability.
Deepa Dosaja’s Deepa Flower Garden Gown is both hand-embroidered and hand-painted, constructed from organic silk produced in Kenya, with elements of upcycled leather scraps and Swarovski upcycled crystals fashioned into floral embellishments. The embroidery and beading has been crafted by Deepa’s in-house team, women who have been trained by Dosaja herself. The gown is also lined with remnant silk pieces, reflecting the brand’s ethos of reducing waste. To finish the look, Dosaja worked with Artisan Fashion, a social enterprise based in Kenya that connects over 1,000 artisans to international fashion. “Deepa’s Flowers” are crafted from sustainable cow horn and recycled brass. The neckline and the beaded belt of the gown is traditional Maasai beadwork. Also collaborating on the look is Mumwa Crafts Association in Zambia, who have created a shoulder purse made from Zambian palm leaf. The purse has been embellished with Deepa Flowers crafted from recycled leather, Zambian Shitenge Fabric from Mumwa Crafts and sustainable cow horn along with a recycled brass Deepa Flowers shoulder strap from Artisan Fashion. The look is completed with a woollen shawl.
The look was displayed at Buckingham Palace and the Australian High Commission, London. Both exhibitions were curated by VOGUE's Editor-at-Large, Hamish Bowles.
The project was launched by Commonwealth Secretary General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age and supported by Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.