Chic women cover themselves in Gloria

Her recent A-Freak-A collection was a blend of sharp asymmetrical cuts, exaggerated hip lines and pointed gigot sleeves, cut in African “Kitenge” fabric, traditional tribal patterns tweaked to modern looks.

Her pieces are feminine without being too revealing, a vivid reflection of her surroundings and the ethnic diversity of Uganda. Her inspiration drifts between the bright expressions of love and its most intimate depictions, something close to introspection, of nature and women’s sexuality over the centuries.

Wavamunno was a reserved child, who spent her days in the tailoring business owned and run by her mother and her sisters. Hiding in the piles of fabrics, looking at her aunts working their hands and magic into the textiles, she mimicked their gestures, creating things of her own.

Regardless of the fact that she was born in London and graduated with a BA in fine arts from the American Intercontinental University, her love for Uganda and Africa is palpable.

“I learn so much from being Ugandan and even more from being an African, watching all the differences that add up to something.”

This watching was where she learnt everything: from cutting, trimming and tailoring to patiently listening to clients chatting about their needs, desires and expectations.

“I understood that everyone has a different idea and need for how they wish to look and appear to others.”

From her small studio in Kampala, she runs the manufacturing process, the sourcing of her fabrics from around Africa, and the final fits. Her aunts still work with her.

It hasn’t been easy, and Wavamunno explains: “Creating a secure, trained workforce has been a challenge, as has been the sourcing of a similar fabric in larger quantities. But then I realised that it was better to work with it than against it.”

Her attention is riveted on quality: “First you must have a quality product. Then, when you have a product, be honest with how much you can supply, and market it visually.”

Today, she designs collections dubbed “evolving, simple and textured” for a woman on a rebounding continent: “Africa is just beautiful. [My client] is that woman, going through the ups and downs of life and self-evaluation. She is different, she grows, she changes and she has heart. In light and in darkness she shines.”

Wavamunno’s ranges are tailored, spiky yet feminine, enmeshed in African traditionalism and eccentric London punk. An inflated shoulder pad on a cropped jacket, Jodhpur pants revisited with overblown thighs and side pockets like fish scales, a one-shoulder corseted dress — there is panache, sensuality and avant-gardism in her collections.  

The designer, whose intention is to keep producing locally and selling globally, is enthusiastic about African fashion: “There are amazing and gifted designers, but the [local] fashion industry has still length to grow. We need to work together. I am based in Uganda, [I have] a Ugandan workforce, I make quality clothing at international standards.

“We are capable of this and we should be as respected as any qualified designer internationally.”

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