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Society & Culture

CONTENTS Fashion week is the vogue, just like that 60 Fifty Shades of Grey 63 The last word on Management 64

W Statistica lly, youre extremely unlikely to get em barrasse d if someon e glances at this ov er you shoulder r




Fashion week is the vogue, just like that

Trendz Kenya poised to transition next year into a major fair, marking Kenyas arrival on the coveted global fashion stage

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Society & Culture

This event puts Kenyan fashion on a global platform. There is so much creativity here, so many emerging talents, so much that can be showcased.

BY AAMERA JIWAJI hen Kenyan business traveller Sanjeev Sharma proposed to New Delhi born ight attendant Sonu on a Qatar Airways ight, he was confronted by a strong stereotype about Africa from her family and friends: that Africans did not wear clothes. This myth quickly evaporated when Sonus parents travelled to Kenya on a scouting ahead of her marriage. Ironically, the issue resurfaced in the early years of their marriage in the strangest of ways. It began with Sonus arrival in Kenya in 2006, a country and a continent she had never visited before her marriage. Born and bred in the largest city in India and one of the most sophisticated social places in the world, she would spend her early mornings walking around the city centre because the buzz at that time of the day echosed the world she had come from. My favourite place is still the city centre. I walk the roads and I love it. I would see these beautiful men and women, so well dressed, walking down the road. And they were always in suits. Just smart dressing. And there was this taste, Sonu said. Her fashion designer training in Delhi kicked in and from her casual observations. She started to notice the popular fashion trends. She soon realised that while Kenyans were very fashion conscious, the clothing market did not oer them individuality or uniqueness of design. There has been a fashion boom recently but ve years ago, it was not there. The type of dressing you could get was more like a mass

market. You get a piece and the next day you nd someone else wearing the same, she explained. Sonu travelled to Delhi twice and started a small clothing import business from home through which she sold two collections. With Sanjeevs social networks, the business took o. The couple registered a company and named it Just Like That Ltd to communicate the instant satisfaction that their fashion and entertainment ventures oered. At the snap of a nger, said Sonu as she demonstrated with the click. Her creative work at that time fed on the dual identity that she was developing, which represented the best of her home and her adoptive country in an Indofusion mix. This helped her to make a mark on the international fashion scene. Sonu has since exhibited at international fashion events in Tanzania, Nigeria and Goa and she was nominated as the Fashion Ambassador for Kenya in 2009. Today she has a unit in Delhi with 20 people that tailor her exclusive designs. Initially, she would visit Delhi regularly to supervise the operations, but now she is able to handle her business online and just emails her team the colour combinations and designs to work with. As her passion for fashion grew and her designs began to get recognition internationally, she and Sanjeev realised that
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Society & Culture

even though Kenyan designers had so much to oer on the global scene, there wasnt a local platform to showcase their work. And so Trendz Kenya, the signature event of Just Like That Ltd, was born in 2010. Trendz Kenya started as a one-day fashion show with two designers at the Crowne Plaza. It received an overwhelming response from Kenyan, East African and African designers many of whom had moved overseas to better exploit fashion opportunities. And in two years, it grew to become a national fashion event which enhanced the hub-like status of Kenya by transforming it into an urban and lifestyle fashion capital. Last month, Trendz Kenya held its annual event at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi and attracted designers from the United States, Nigeria, South Africa and India alongside local talent, and was beamed live to a global audience of three million people. This event puts Kenyan fashion on a global platform. There is so much creativity here, so many emerging talents, so much that can be showcased, said Sonu. We have come of age as a fashion industry. We have what it takes. Why should we be left behind? The event is poised to transition next year into the Kenya Fashion Week, marking Kenyas arrival on the coveted global fashion stage. It started with the word Trendz, as in whats in vogue. And then it developed to Trendz Kenya Fashion Festival and now it has been registered as the ocial Kenya Fashion Week and it will showcase what Kenya is all about as far as fashion trends and creativity are concerned. The couple recognise the business opportunities that the fashion industry can oer to

Sanjeev and Sonu Sharma

Kenyas economy, and their partnership with the Kenya Tourism Board is deliberately designed to market the event to local and international tourists. Fashion is not just about selling or stitching clothes forward. It can actually be an income generating industry. And Trendz Kenya is a golden bridge between demand and supply, said Sanjeev. This year, for the rst time, the gala show was preceded by an exhibition, which created a marketplace at which local and international fashion labels could be bought for anywhere above Sh3,000. The leading international names at the 2012 fashion event featured work that integrated dual cultural identities and, because the collection was as much about ideas as it was functionality, the fusion of cultures was represented through the

We want our designers here to be on the level of top-ight designers so that when you put forward a platform in which you are walking, sharing the ramp, with the names of the world do you think it will not uplift our designers?
designs and masquerade eye masks; South Africas Paledi Segapo with his mens line PALSE Homme, which featured designs for the fashion forward man and the everyday conservative corporate man; Nigerian-American Estella Ogbona, who works with handwoven traditional fabrics from Africa and Asia and adds detailing to create a mixture of tradition and modernity; and Indias Anita Dongre with her empathy line that has been described as

blending of materials, textures, colours and styles. International designers included Blackbird Jeans, a designer duo from Kenya who have made their mark on the North American fashion scene and have attracted international attention for their incorporation of SWAG, Something We Africans Got; Tanzanias Aly Rehmtullah with his IndoAfrican mix, eccentric feminine

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embodying the desires, ambitions, dreams and sensuality of a woman. Kenyan fashion was represented by Severin Devailly, a French designer who has adopted Kenya as her home; John Kaveke with his colourful blazers; jewellery artist Niku Singh; Nairobi designer Jamil Walji and Sonus colourful sarong wraps. We want our designers here to be on the level of top-ight designers so that when you put forward a platform in which you are walking, sharing the ramp with the names of the world do you think it will not uplift our designers? They can add to their portfolio by saying they showcased with them, said Sonu. One of the secrets to the success of their company is the unique way in which Sonu and Sanjeev work together, building on personal relationship. When youre running a company you need operations and marketing. Both of us have what it takes to make a company successfully. The best part as a couple is that we both know what our pluses and minuses are. And we dont force each other in areas that we know we are not good at. Because at the end of the day it is our baby and we want it to grow, Sonu said. So Jana (her nickname for Sanjeev which means my heart in Hindi) handles the marketing and I take care of the executive and operations side. And the golden nugget: We never cross paths. Thats the best part. I know marketing is not my baby. I know operations and ideas are my baby. Its not about divisions. Everything is ours. Its us. We jointly work towards making it a success. In addition to their signature fashion event, Just Like That Ltd also has an entertainment line that brings the best of international talent to Nairobi for a one-o performance. In just ve years, they have arranged performances by a myriad of artists including Indias rst female DJ, Lil B, who performed in Nairobi earlier this year.

straight from Bridget Jones; Christians apartment is, bizarrely, Frasier Cranes Seattle penthouse, oor-length windows, grand piano and all (I kept expecting Eddie to arrive and do something amusing on the expensive furniture); the glider ride is from The Thomas Crown Aair; and the sex owes a debt to Anne Rice but the Sleeping Beauty novels rather than the vamps. The fact that a middle-aged woman has written it is also often evident. Theres a 21-year-old American college student in 2011 whos never used the internet or received an email, and two chapters are given over to a legal contract explaining how all the really naughty stu sting, caning, sleeping with other people, and so on wont actually be happening. Statistically, youre extremely unlikely to get embarrassed if someone glances at this over your shoulder while it may be highly titillating to more conservative US audiences, readers of Black Lace, the naughtier Mills & Boon imprints or Shirley Conran will nd it puzzlingly tame. More of a problem, practically speaking, is that the heroine has nine orgasms every time Christian walks past her in a strong breeze, which makes her journey to selfdiscovery vastly less interesting than it might have been.But I liked it, and here is why. A woman chose to write it, and did so from the safety of her kitchen table. Nobody had to get naked to pay rent; nobody was forced into anything, Tulisa didnt have to go on YouTube, crying. Its readable, and often funny; miles more enjoyable than those miserable literary erotic books (if anyone had any fun in The Secret life of Catherine M, I clearly missed it, never mind heaven forbid Wetlands). It is jolly, eminently readable and as sweet and safe as BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) erotica can be without contravening the trade descriptions act. If this is the future of publishing, things could Jenny Colgan, be a lot worse.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Author: EL James

F breakout novel of the digital download

ifty Shades of Grey is the huge erotic

revolution. The idea is that anyone can write on the internet, build their popularity, then get properly published and downloaded on to Kindles and Kobos, so no one has to sit on a train showing the world theyre reading about the best ropes for tying a virgin to a chair (natural lament, apparently). Originally evolving through online slash/ c (fan-published erotic writing at the creepier end of the internet, where Ron Weasley and Harry discover their true feelings for one another and so forth) between Edward and Bella of Twilight,Fifty Shades of Grey is now a fully realised trilogy, with Christian Grey as the pretty vampire sorry, dominant and Anastasia Steele as his feisty yet innocent partner. It turns out that Christian Grey isnt a moony vampire at all; he is, in fact, the grey-templed, uber-rich and powerful businessman played by Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. He plays the piano, doesnt like to be touched, loves opera, orders Ana everything from the breakfast menu, makes the rules, doesnt want a relationship, buys her new clothes, stays in a huge suite in a posh hotel and so on. More of a Frankensteins monster than aDracula, the book is similarly stitched together the irtatious emails are

The Guardian


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