Today we have the honor and the pleasure of meeting Ekene Pruce, a successful fashion designer, with whom we have been able to collaborate in the creation of her garments at the launch of her Brands:Ekene Pruce and Belle Grande.
Fashion designer Ekene Pruce designs clothes of an African / European fusion- drawing fashion inspiration from the various indigenous African ethnic groups through discovery and adaptation. Fusing the European and the African fashion to create a perfectly curated women’s wear collection. It’s about tradition, luxury and Italian craftsmanship.
Belle Grande started with a clear mission and with intention of providing elegant clothing for the tall woman and to meet this need Belle Grande through careful research, takes the latest international trends, mixing them with the influences that are seen on the street and in the fashionable cities and reworks them according to their style, thus transforming them into comfortable and easy to wear garments.
In this interview we will know more about his style and how to reinterpret fashion
Why is fashion important to you?
I grew up around fashion. My mother was a fashion designer. She designed most of my outfits whilst growing up. I learnt a lot about fashion in Africa; clothes, fabrics, trimmings and haute couture. I come from the Igbo tribe in the eastern part of Nigeria and the Igbo’s love to dress up. There was a saying commonly used in Nigeria “looking good is good business’ and we adhered to that. I wore what certain people would consider” crazy” but I called it “being expressive”.
Who does your brand cater to and why?
My brand caters for that woman that believes in looking and moving forward; that hard working woman that likes to look different, that woman that embraces culture and understands that fashion is a way of expressing what and who one is. Ekene Pruce designs are created from uniquely designed fabrics and stands out of main stream fashion. Ekene Pruce designs embraces the African and European culture and it is a fusion of both cultures.
What makes your styles different?
I travel a lot, and I like to watch people. This aids my trend research and helps me understand the latest trend and how to fuse different trends to come up with a unique design or fit. I do a lot of market research by talking to a lot of women and of course going through their wardrobe, and I am always surprised to see and know that their favourite piece/ pieces is not a product of fast fashion and they have owned it for over 5 years. For example, the Ekene Pruce mask fabric is a unique and exclusive design made in Italy. The design came to me on my many trips to Europe and I wondered what it would feel like and be like to fuse my African culture with the British culture. My styles are different because it’s fusion fashion. It’s about embracing different cultures and fusing my culture with others to create something uniquely different.
If you could work with any two designers who would they be?
I would love to work with Dame Vivienne Westwood, I find her designs rather quirky and Ozwald Boateng’s twist on classic British tailoring style. Imagine fusing their designs with mine; one word comes to mind ‘explosive!
When did you first become interested in fashion?
As a young child, I have always loved to dress up and look different. I like to stand out and as such I started designing my own clothes and playing with fabrics. I was a rather tall girl at the age of 16 and as a tall girl, it was difficult to find clothes that fit and this gave me the reason to continue designing my own clothes and getting my mother to show me how to make my own patterns. Fashion is a language I believe and a language I understand. I socialise a lot and I enjoy engaging with people. I have a bubbly personality and I love expressing my personality through fashion. Fashion defines who I am. The famous designer Ralph Lauren once said “ fashion is about something that comes from within you”.
What is your favourite part of being a fashion designer ?
The favourite part of being a fashion designer is researching for a Collection. This entails travelling, people watching, lots and lots of sketches, playing with fabrics and meetings with my Project Manager Silvia. Working with Italian manufacturers and stylists has given me the opportunity to create designs that can stand the test of time. The opportunity to create timeless pieces that are made with the best fabrics and craftsmanship. Italians are very good at their craft and their fashion knowledge dates back to generations and generations of great craftsmen. They are also very passionate about their craft and how to get the best result that will elicit uniqueness. Ekene Pruce is about quality, precision and great craftsmanship. Furthermore, I dislike wearing clothes that I know I will see a lot of people wearing; hence my fabrics are specially designed for the purpose for which they are intended. And can never be found anywhere else.
What is your favourite garment you’ve designed?
I have designed for the Tall brand, Belle Grande; and my favourite design is the Katherine Jacket. This was inspired by the fact that jackets made from quality tweed fabric are hard to find except if it is a designer label. The Katherine Jacket was made from carefully and specifically designed fabric and cannot be seen anywhere else.
Where would you like to be in five years with regards to your fashion business?
In five years, I would like to be selling through major retailers and expanding the brand internationally.
Which famous person would you like to work with and why?
I would certainly love my Collection to be worn by famous people that appreciate the uniqueness of my designs, the sacrifices as well as the hard work that has gone into making it.
What is the biggest event you have done so far?
If you couldn’t do fashion – what would be your other ‘Dream Job’?
Anything that has the element of creativity, probably become an actor.
Growing up – who was your inspiration?
My late father was a big influence in my life and he inspired me greatly. He was a big advocate on the education of women and he made sure that all his 5 daughters were professionals in their field. However the biggest influence in my life is life itself.
We thank Ekene Pruce for her precious contribution, we will always be attentive to your evolutions because it is wonderful how you managed to reinterpret fashion in a cultural mix of style and elegance. Thanks again Ekene!