When you talk about Sierra Leone’s fashion industry, Kadiatu Kamara is one of the household names and she may soon take over the African fashion scene too. A former beauty queen, Kadi is the proud owner of Vivid Emporium, a high end fashion boutique stocked with unique custom made pieces as well as carefully selected hot off the catwalk trends from other established brands. Kadi’s designs are like herself; bold and fearless. Born into humble beginnings, her success story comprises of passion, resilience and hard work. After establishing a modeling career in Europe and North America, she realised she had left her heart in Sierra Leone. Now she is back making waves at the heart of the country’s social scene. Her most recent collection, featured here and within this post, was for Ghana based textile company Printex.
Music must. who are you listening to at the moment?
Right now I’m listening to Salif Keita and Baaba Maal. They are two of my favourite Malian musicians. I have been listening to their music for about 12 years and I just love them. I am in a place in my life where I need that kind of sound; cool, calm, happy, full of depth and heartfelt. However, I’m dancing to Afrobeats and one of my favorite songs at the moment is Yaa Pono’s Amen. And of course I’m loving Wizkid.
Statement Scent. What is your favourite fragrance?
My favorite fragrance for a long time was J’adore by Christian Dior and a few years ago a friend gave me Coco Chanel Mademoiselle as a gift and I’ve been alternating between the two since.
Fashion’s finest. From shoes to couture, who is your favourite designer?
My favorite designer, even though I don’t have a piece by him in my wardrobe yet has to be Alexander Mcqueen. He pushed boundaries beyond our imagination and he told a story with every collection. Even though he’s gone, his work continues and his presence is felt in all the collections after him. It is as though when the studio lights go off at the end of the day, he comes in and sprinkles his own touch. I don’t know, that’s just the vibe I get from Mcqueen.
WATCH: Kadi talk about her life as a designer on Brand Salone TV
Perfect Holiday Destination?
I’ve been to a lot of places, but I love Zanzibar. It’s just perfect. Looking forward to where the next couple of years take me because I love to see and experience new places.
What beauty accessories are a must have in your holiday luggage?
A really good mascara, a nice lip-gloss or MAC Ruby Woo, depending on the day and the way I’m feeling and of course one of my favorite fragrances.
Who or what inspires you to create? How do you get in the zone?
I am very inspired by vintage Africa. I love the way Africans dressed during my grandparents’ generation. Fashion then was so elegant and effortless. The African culture is so rich and it gives me a lot to play with. Music helps me to get in the zone. I also work pretty well under a little bit of pressure
When did you realise that fashion could be a way of life for you?
Fashion has been a way of life for me since I was little. On public holidays my mum would do her best even though we didn’t have much, to make sure that my siblings and I have very beautiful clothes. Whether it was trendy or not, we would wear something beautiful. But I definitely fell in love with and started understanding fashion in my own way when I was modeling. In some of the shows I walked for, designers would come from all over the world to showcase their beautiful garments and I was just always wowed by the creativity that must have gone into every single piece.
Any advice for up and coming designers?
My advice would be don’t limit yourself. As a designer, you’re an artist and as an artist, you have a lot of creative freedom. You must make use of that freedom.
Who is your style icon?
My style icon has always been Marilyn Monroe. She was just amazing and her style will live forever.
If you could team up with any designer in the world who would it be and why?
No one specific to be honest. I would like to work with humble people who understand that fashion is about having fun and having the freedom to express our creative selves.
Tell us a bit about you most recent project/collection.
I just did a pretty cool collaboration with Printex in Ghana. I had the opportunity to design the pieces for this season’s campaign and they took me back to my modeling days when they asked me to also model the pieces I had created. That was an awesome experience.
WATCH: Kadi launch her Kabasaloj Collection