Portia Mwanaka, Zimbabwean born designer, is the talented driver behind brand Killian de Burgh, which showcased for the first time ever at Africa fashion Week London. The collection she brought left the crowd stunned. A menswear collection which was ethereal, futuristic, had a hint of S&M and been described as one of the most ‘unorthodox’ collections to hit the AFWL runway. “It felt as if the line had been plucked straight from the runway shows of London Fashion Week” (Review by Patrice Gonzalez of Pappz’d).
Portia is a London based designer of Zimbabwean origin. Fashion has been something that has been ever present in her life, having watched both her grandmothers create hats and dresses from scratch. It’s not until she was fifteen that she decided to give it a try herself.
A self proclaimed tomboy (in the past) Portia had a natural talent for fashion but didn’t sway towards the typical womenswear route. It’s not until her work experience with with menswear designer Martine Rose that she realised her love for menswear; mostly because of the challenging silhouette of the male figure. Inspired by human and animal anatomy, “I tend to like and think the most gruesome of things with the hope of interpreting it into something beautiful.” Portia found her talents lay best with menswear.
“I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.”
— Alexander McQueen
“AFWL was an amazing experience; an eye opener and left me smiling for days after the show. Being my first ever show, I didn’t know what to expect, but the reception I got as I walked down the runway at the end of my show was the most amazing thing. Being an Artist will always make you self-critical but when your audience communicates enjoyment, it gives the most amazing feeling.”
Portia is looking set to take the fashion world by storm, with Killian de Burgh already proving to be high fashion worthy, and London Fashion Week a definite dream of hers I’m sure she will fulfill. Not only has she got big dreams about hitting high fashion runways but she also wants to develop her line further, collaborate with other designers and develop unique textile manipulation. “Most of all I’d just like to continue doing designing. My mother told me I’d be a great woman one day. I believe her”
Photography: Michael Mba (www.whoismido.com) for Africa Fashion Week London