Fashion's kaleidoscope celebrated in unique catwalk show of Perth designers

Fashion's kaleidoscope celebrated in unique catwalk show of Perth designers

By fijivillage
Tuesday 09/11/2021
Karen Elizabeth Young's gown "Boola Bardip" is a symbolic representation of Western Australia and the artist contributor, Sammy Wyborn. (ABC News: Herlyn Kaur)

Lemmy Izengo has dedicated a lot of her life to creating fashion designs inspired by her Tanzanian heritage.

Clothing is not only an expression of identity for her, it's also about keeping her culture alive.

"Clothing speaks to us, food, drums, storytelling, so all of that is a way of life and it goes together hand in hand," she said.

"So that's how I was brought up and I had that passion for fashion, I had that passion for bold and stand-out outfits ... that was just the way of life."

At the age of 23, she moved to Australia to find better opportunities.

"Those days [there weren't] many people like me.... I could jump in a bus and someone says 'Hey, can I touch your hair?' or 'Where are you from?'," the now 46-year-old said.

"At least nowadays I can see a lot of people who look like me which is wonderful, that sense of togetherness and having people who they celebrate, or they have the same background as you ... it makes a huge difference."

While she left her country and family behind, she didn't leave her rich culture.

For the last six years, Ms Izengo has turned her love for fashion into a business, which helps promote African design.

"For me, from the beginning, we started this for the kid who looks like me. We shouldn't be ashamed, or not celebrate who we are in every different aspect," she said.

She was one of 12 designers recently invited to showcase their creations at Kaleidoscope World of Fashion in Perth.

The newly launched event was created by a group of industry veterans to highlight the importance of diversity and increase representation in the sector.

"This is a huge opportunity for our communities, to have this platform and to celebrate," Ms Izengo said.

"It really encourages me to stand up tall, and to show the world that hey, we're just the same as you.

"I hope the young girls who are dreaming to be fashion designers or models, whatever aspects of [their dreams], they should realise they can work hard on their dream and their dream can come true."

Model Jeraldine Nshimilimana, who walked Ms Izengo's main design at the launch of the show at the WA Museum Boola Bardip on Sunday, said it was an honour to be a part of the ground-breaking event.

"We've got people from across the world, and the native people of Australia as well [which] you don't get that anywhere. It's almost unseen and unheard of, so it's great to have this platform," she said.

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