Hazel Eki Aggrey-Orleans is the creative force behind the high-end London-based fashion-label Eki Orleans. Born in Germany, raised in Nigeria and educated in London, her design aesthetic has been strongly influenced by this diverse mix of cultures. She draws inspiration from all of her cultural experiences, most notably, however, from her West African heritage. Growing up in the buzzing, chaotic and culturally diverse city of Lagos, Hazel first developed a love for the vivid and earthy colours of Africa.
While still pursuing a career in finance, she decided to follow her vocation and natural aptitude for textile and fashion design. Combining both artistic skills she launched her first fashion collection with her own fabric designs in 2009. It is her outstanding and unusual talent for perfectly co-ordinated pattern and colour combinations that ultimately determines the styling of her day and evening dresses and co-ordinates. Where other fashion designers find fabrics to suit their visions of a dress, Hazel decides on the dress to suit her vision of a fabric design. For inspiration and choice of subject the designer inevitably resorts back to her African roots. Her patterns tell stories reminiscent of childhood memories or are an interpretation of nature through her eyes.
“This latest collection is thoughtfully named ‘Butterflies’as I returned to nature for inspiration. During the creation stage for this collection, I found inspiration in the beauty of butterflies. It was on my last trip to Mauritius, where I encountered a flutter of beautiful butterflies and was instantly mesmerised.
It is the soft innocence and gracefulness of these species that I tried to capture in my SS13 collection. We used a lot of white fabrics to showcase the purity, against the vivid orange and fuchsia colours, which for me, beautifully portrays the energy that is brought to us through the wisdom of these delicate creatures. We often forget what changes they have gone through to blossom to that beauty and I wanted to create pieces that were pure and angelic.’The feeling of love can be associated with a butterfly. Hold it too close, and you risk crushing its delicate structure. Loosen your grip and it could fly away. We have tried to capture this delicate feature by creating pieces, which drape off the body, evoking a sensuality found in every woman,” Orleans says of this brand new collection.
With sheer layers, colourful prints, delicate silhouttes, ‘Butterflies’captures the fleeting, frail essence of butterflies.
Entitled ‘A Slice of Africa’, the designer presents a sublime visual discourse on the African continent and its relationship with China. Indeed, this SS14 collection is a reaction to the growing Chinese investment in Africa, a symbolic representation of the harmonious fusion between the two cultures.
Juxtaposing two different prints in the same silhouette, one print inspired by African cultural imagery and the other by Chinese design elements, Eki Orleans suggests that the intersection of African and Chinese culture can create something that is beautiful, chic and sophisticated. The designer elaborated that ‘With the African-inspired print, I wanted a design that creates the illusion of rows and rows of market stalls and the resulting electricity and energy found in traditional African markets. With the Chinese-inspired print, I was drawn by the beauty of traditional Chinese floral vases.’
Staying true to the Eki Orleans aesthetic, the collection features light and diaphanous dresses in flattering silhouettes in a breath-taking yellow and lime colour palette.
Imagine the hypnotic beat of African drums, the seductive rhythm of salsa and dancing to samba on a balmy night in Rio, and you have the spirit of the Eki Orleans AW14 collection.Music has always been a powerful source of inspiration for Eki Orleans Creative Director, Hazel Aggrey-Orleans and this season she translated her love for Afro-cuban music into an extraordinary collection, aptly named Rhythm.
Featuring the Eki Orleans signature silks and ethereal chiffons, the Rhythm collection is replete with exquisite garments that seem to move to their own harmonious beat.“I wanted to capture the rawness of the African drum and the melodic elements of samba, in a way that inspired spontaneity, fun and playfulness”, explained the designer.Using a dazzling array of golds and blues in sensual and sophisticated silhouettes, the designer created modern and elegant pieces that are fun and playful.
If you want to discover more of her wonderful creations follow this link: www.ekiorleans.com