Askari couture

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Words Silvia Noki

Askari Kangas, recruited to fight in colonial battles in East Africa, provided the unusual inspiration for John Kaveke's spring collection showcased last Friday at Charing Cross Hotel for London Fashion Week.

These Askari units – and the new cultures, fabrics and colours they discovered on their military voyages in both World Wars – form the heart of Kaveke's collection, entitled Swords of Savannah.

It's the latest offering from the Kenyan designer who began his career in Maridadi Fabrics more than 10 years ago and launched his fashion label in 1999.

The new collection sees Kaveke pair traditional East African khanga fabric with solid-coloured cottons and chiffons to make minidresses, playsuits and shorts. Accessories include chunky beaded jewellery, inspired by Turkana and Maasai cultures (and designed by Patricia Mbela of Poisa), Maasai beads and colourful socks.

The men's collection was diverse, ranging from casual contemporary to formal wear, and taking in vibrant collared suits with subtle khanga detailing, t-shirts and shorts, as well as Sandstorm bags (featured in ARISE Issue 12).

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