Fashion Friday: Anita Quansah London
Ghanaian/Nigerian designer Anita Quansah London’s handmade jewelry collection first caught my attention when Keisha Buchanan was photographed in a statement neckpiece at Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief store launch in London. Anita Quansah has gone on to collaborate with Nigerian fashion labels Eki Orleans and Jewel by Lisa for their ARISE Magazine Fashion Week runway shows. If you’re looking for a jewelry collection that will have people asking, “Where Did You Get That From?,” Anita Quansah London is the style pick to go with and she rarely disappoints!
Using the skills she got as a 2003 textile degree graduate from Chelsea College and working with Christian Lacroix in 2004, Anita drew upon her multi-cultural background as inspiration to launch her UK-based collection in 2006. Her five year strong line, an eclectic fusion of modern and African influences, became an instant hit within the fashion industry. Anita’s hard work was recognized by British Vogue who named her line “Best Buy” and she was nominated for Best African Fusion Designer by the prestigious GUBA Awards in London. Soon Anita was asked by Jewel By Lisa, KemKem Studio, Eki Orleans, Nkwo and Vonne to create bold statement looks for their runway shows.
According to Anita, her style is “recycled and vintage materials with the introduction of mixed metals, silver, gold, gunmetal and colorful elements such as pearls, beads, rhinestones, & ribbons.” Made exclusively in London, her Fall 2010 Collection was inspired by the Masai Tribe in Kenya and Nigeria.
Anita took time out of her busy schedule to chat with me on how she started, how her multi-cultural background inspired her collection, and the future plans for her label.
When did you discover that making jewelry was the career path for you?
The wonderful ladies in my family – from my grandmother, to my mum and aunties influenced my aesthetics. These ladies showed me at a very young age how adorning your body with beautiful jewels can have a remarkable impression on yourself and others. What was very important was that they dressed for themselves, which I always have in the back of my mind when designing. A woman should dress to suit their personality. For them, each piece draped around their necks reflected each of their personalities, and I admire that a lot.
What are the inspirations behind your collections?
My cultural heritage has had a huge impact on my work. Coming from a mixed African background (half Ghanaian and half Nigerian) has exposed me to a lot of rich African traditions and cultures with rich materials and textiles. The bold and vibrant colors in Africa are phenomenal. I try to inject these into my work a lot. I try to incorporate rich luxurious African prints in my work mixed with that of vintage materials such as 1940’s pieces and new materials such as chains, pearls and shells, which is amazing, it gives it a totally new look which is rare. Also, I’m influenced by everyday sightings, music, art, people of diverse cultures and styles.
I’ve noticed that you embrace fellow African fashion designers. Please discuss your collaborations with Jewel By Lisa and Eki Orleans. How did these collaborations come about?
My collaborations with Jewel by Lisa, Eki Orleans, and other designers such as KemKem Studio, Nkwo and Vonne were fun and exciting. At the time when I was first approached by this designers, I was very much fans of their works. I knew their works were all very different, some embellished and textured and some not. And I wondered how they would all work with my bold designs. For JBL (Jewel by Lisa), I created a whole new range for her jewelry line for the AW 2011. As you all know, she designs the most beautiful embellished pieces using African prints and silks. We wanted to create something that is not too African, something that has a contemporary feel to it, and I would like to think that we achieved that. We worked a lot with her prints incorporating that with many vintage and new materials. For the other designers, we used the latest collection which is Spring/summer 2011 and past collections to bring out their wonderful creations. It was a great experience.
Congratulations on having Keisha Buchanan wearing a neckpiece from your upcoming collection. How did this come about?
Working with Keisha and many other artists have been very fun and exciting. I am constantly in shock about people’s reactions to my work. When I create I never anticipate the reactions I often get, and I’m baffled. When you are in that creative bubble, called AQL bubble, you’re in a world where only me and my materials exist, and till I’m done, I let people in. So working with Keisha and her team came about when I first met her PR. She liked the pieces and knew her clients such as Estelle will like them too. And doesn’t Keisha look divine? She is a beautiful lady anyway, loved the way she added her own style to it. Love it.
Do you have any favorite fashion designers? If so who would you like to work with if the opportunity presented itself?
This is extremely hard to answer, as I love and admire all designers that simply allow their gift of creativity to wow me and others. I loved the designers that I have worked with so far, both African and international. Look forward to working with more. If I had to choose at the moment, Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen would be my favorite fashion designers.
The Bridal Industry fashion is great one to market your line to. Have you done anything for brides? Do you predict a bridal line in the future for Anita Quansah London?
Definitely, do you know what I was just thinking about it the other day? I would love to. So keep a look out.
What piece from your line do you think would be perfect for fashionable brides?
I think something from the new collection and Ophira, Tryn, Oria necklaces from previous collections, and many more depending on the bride’s characteristics.
If you can have a celebrity dream client (both African and non-African) to represent Anita Quansah London who would it be and why?
Wow, Wow Wow, they have to be bold and unafraid to have fun. Well many but I choose these two, Solange Knowles and Erykah Badu for their bi-cultural style.
When can we expect the official launch of your website?
You can expect the official launch of my website very soon. I know it is taking rather long and there’s too much anticipation, but I am a very meticulous person. My habits of wanting it perfect have overshadowed the whole design process, that explains the delay. I want it to be just right. Hope I don’t disappoint. We will be attaching the e-store to it which is something I’ve been told will be launched separately.
On behalf of Munaluchi Bridal Magazine, I would like to thank Anita Quansah for chatting with me about her exquisite jewelry collection. You can find out more about Anita Quansah London through her Facebook fan page, her website and her Twitter page.
Click any thumbnail below to view the entire collection.