In the run up to the GUBA Awards scheduled for Saturday 10 November 2012 at the Park Plaza Hotel, as media partners for the event, we will bring you exclusive interviews with designers nominated in the in the Best African Fusion Designer category.
Last week we brought you our first exclusive with shoe designer Ashanti Lou. This week we have a chat with none other than jewellery designer Anita Quansah.
To vote for Ashanti Lou or any of the other designers, please visit the GUBA site.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your label and its history?
My name is Anita and I am the bespoke jewellery curator for the brand Anita Quansah London which was created in 2006. After obtaining degree in textiles from Chelsea College of Art and Design London, I entered the fashion industry, collaborating and creating unique embroidered textile pieces for some of the leading textile and fashion design houses such as Christian Lacroix, DKNY, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ischiko, Victoria Secret, Ecko and textiles Weisbrod Zurrer and Sandy Starkman.
I have collaborated with Christian Lacroix, designing and embroidering pieces that featured on the runway for his haute couture show and designed a limited
edition capsule collections for retailer ASOS.
Jewellery design for me stemmed from my love for fashion and all things beautiful. I guess this passion for design and creativity stems from my early childhood, watching my grandmother, a seamstress, teaching her students of more than 400 and making the most beautiful clothes from very interesting and embroidered textiles. Her passion for creativity, her energy and her determination is what drove me to start experimenting at a very young age. I guess also being brought up around women and watching their different styles evolve also had an impact on me.
From that early exposure I started using collections of textiles and vintage gems which I have collected and still collect to create works of conversational art in the form of jewelery that maintains the true value of craftsmanship.
But my pieces quickly grew a cult following. Immediate press attention followed, with international editorials such as German Vogue, Elle Germany, Elle Serbia, British Vogue, Elle UK.com,The Independent, Dare2magazine, Muse, German Tush, Flux, SVA, VIBE, FAB, Fashizblack, Pref, Sublime, Candid, Vision and book New African Fashion, all featuring my work. Additionally, the line has an extensive celebrity following including Alicia Keys, Estelle, Asa, Nneka.
What are the inspirations/story behind your latest collection?
My current/latest collection of neck art explores the concept of beauty and aesthetics of skin on the human body, by focusing and adapting manipulated body patterns such as scarification and body art widely practiced in Africa as a mark of courage and status.
For this collection, I have created several body pieces and jewelleries that incorporates a fusion of embroidery techniques and mixed media applications fused with intricate details giving a visual representation of the traditional African motifs. Array of materials such as colourful beads of varying sizes sourced from Africa, semi precious stones, faceted crystals, shells, chains and feathers go into the creation of the statement neck pieces that are used to enhance beauty and society admiration.
Although the art of scarification in many areas of Africa is slowly disappearing, through the introduction of clothing and intrusive urban values and cultures, I have applied my knowledge of decorating and textiles to create pieces that are a celebration of handicraft and true craftsmanship, yet embodying the decorative aspect of African art that is being widely recognised and celebrated.
How would you define the Anita Quansah woman?
I would like to think that every lady is our dream woman. We design for ladies with a fabulous personalities and style, beautiful inside and outside.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am constantly watching what is around me. Anything can inspire me from culture, to music to arts and even nature .
Who are some of your brand ambassadors?
My family, my beautiful daughter, Alicia Keys, Estelle, Nneka,Tiwa Savage, Asa, Keisha Buchanan, editor Sinem Bilen Onabanjo of Fab Magazine.
And who else would you like to see wearing your label?
Gosh it’s hard to choose, I’m drawn to great personalities and characters. Like the likes of Solange and Beyonce Knowles, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Grace Jones .
Where can the fans of your label buy your creations?
The jeweleries can be bought from my website www.anitaquansahlondon.com Luisa Via Roma in Florence Italy and online www.luisaviaroma.com SOBOYE 13 Calvert Avenue, London E2 7JP and www.notjustalabel.com
How does it feel being nominated in the fashion category of GUBA Awards and what would it mean to win this award?
Gosh, it’s very overwhelming when your work is being recognised and celebrated, and to win this award from GUBA will be an extra icing on a rather big elaborated jewelery cake hahaha. Its amazing and I can’t wait to be there. Even if I don’t win, it’s great to be nominated and am still over joyed with that.
What’s next for 2012 and beyond for you and your label?
2012 has been a very incredible and busy year. Currently I am working on my new collection which is going to be launched at the LFDW in Lagos Nigeria, which is very exciting. Then I have the GUBA awards, the exciting launch at the luxurious boutique in Italy Luisa Via Roma. Wow! I am so grateful and appreciative of all the love and support I have received this year.
My ambition is to continue to better myself and my designs, to make the brand more accessible and recognised across the world. To be stocked in shops like Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty’s, Neiman Marcus etc, and to continue to make people more aware of the beauty in recycling. But most importantly, I want to continue to maintain the value of my craftsmanship and keep my creative spirit alive
And our classic question with a twist – what is fab about being Ghanaian?
I am very lucky and fortunate to have a mixed heritage, dad Ghanaian and mum Nigerian. Being African is Fab and I will never change that about me. That’s me and that’s what am all about.