Anesu Mawarire Entertainment Reporter
Many people have been wondering what it took for Chipo Mudzengi-Hwami to meet the famous rapper-cum-fashion icon Kanye West. She recently won an award for scoring the first and third place for her designer collection Panashe´ at the Gold Thimble fashion show held in the US and Kanye handed her the accolade.
Zimbabwean fashion designers are making noise abroad and they are raising our flag high. Amongst these talented designers is Chipo who is a wife, mother and a fashion design student based in Los Angeles, USA.
In an exclusive interview with The Herald Entertainment Chipo opened up about her journey before she was a fashion designer and when she became the fashion sage that she is now.
“I had always been the ambitious kid in the family and I was constantly labelled stubborn. I grew up with an inquisitive mind and always felt there was more to do in life, I am a goal-getter. I worked very hard to achieve the goals that I had set for myself. I felt I could achieve anything through prayer and self-discipline,” she said.
The fashion industry abroad can be challenging and a hard nut to crack but Chipo defied the odds and managed to soar in a foreign land.
“Fashion is really a tough industry to get into and once you are in it is hard to remain relevant. It is a fast paced industry and that makes it challenging to anyone that’s in it,” she said.
She took us through her fashion expedition highlighting her parents as inspiring her to be the fashion designer that she is now.
“When I was younger I was always fascinated by fabrics, threads and bright colours. Somehow I knew that I would make a living through the works or my hands, (meaning my gifts and talent) although I did not know what nature or form it was going to take.
“Coming from a family that was gifted in designing clothes, I believe my love for fashion was inherited from both my parents. In 2007, I started a business that would help fund a massive vision to build a centre for single mothers. Unfortunately I had to shut down the business because I felt I lacked the confidence to continue sewing for people. I felt I needed the knowledge and secrets to the fashion industry so I decided to go back to college,” she said.
Panashe´ designs are uniquely crafted with a contemporary touch to them, no doubt they scooped awards at the prominent Gold Thimble fashion show.
“In simple words, my designs say powerful, confident, unique and ready. They are contemporary designs for women between the ages of 19 and 45. My customer knows exactly who she is and boldly knows what she wants and I believe that my designs will definitely help women feel good about themselves. Also, my designs are not limited to women. I have been receiving a lot of good pressure from men too, so I am excited about providing young trendy looks for men,” she said.
Chipo’s most defining moment to this day was meeting the “All Day” singer Kanye West who she believes it was a sign that one day she will be in this same fashion realm.
“Meeting Kanye West was an awesome and humbling experience. My mind could not comprehend how huge this was until a couple of days later. I said to myself, wait a minute, you actually shook hands with someone from the top bracket? To have my award handed over by him was the icing on the cake. I love the fact that he appreciates fashion and he understands the struggles that one could face in the fashion industry. His speech was very inspiring and my take from it was to keep doing what I’m doing and that one day it will pay off. It made me realise that one day I will get there too,” she said.
About her future plans as a Zimbabwean Chipo said she has great plans for her designs and has the Zimbabwean people at heart even though she is living in the Diaspora.
“My dream is to go global. My hope is that I can be able to work with stores and boutiques and have my designs available to people in Zimbabwe, Africa and the rest of the World.
“I hope that my experiences will open doors for me to be able to share my creativity and provide good quality clothing that is desirable and trendy. I would want women from all corners of the world to wear my designs. As far as school goes, it’s an ongoing process for me. I will forever be learning throughout my career,” she said.