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Kristine has fashion all wrapped up

Designer Kristine Wainaina is bringing colourful fashions in out of the cold.

For her latest collection is of scarves — and accessories for them, like big button brooches and button bobby pins.

And with the cold season on the way, she is hoping her scarves will see Kenya’s style queens all wrapped up warmly.

Creating a new line is a process she loves.

“I create my own brief,” she explained, “with first sketches (it takes a while) then lock down on a design, run it by other people like a product designer for critiquing, do samples followed by another round of critiquing and then go into full production.”

Kristine likes to work with natural fabrics like cotton and linen. They are easy to work with and the products used to decorate them are environmentally friendly.

“Well I hear my work is very feminine and delicate, I never thought of it that way I just thought it was pretty. I also like vibrant colours. I have a serious affinity for vibrant and rich colours hence my brand is called Calla,” she said.

Kristine loves warms colours like yellows, mustards and ochres; all yellow’s sisters, brothers and cousins. And she has a bias towards geometric shapes because she loves their symmetry and the sense of order they bring.

As well as designing fashion, Kristine also focuses on fashion accessories — a job she combines with that of freelance interior designer.

“My brand Calla was born while at Craft Afrika and I registered it in April 2013,” she recalled. “I was previously operating under the brand name PambaZina as a jeweller; something, I did for two and half years.”

With a diploma in Fine Art — a major in interior design and a minor in fabric decoration and textile science — from Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts, she set up Craft Afrika as a social enterprise that seeks to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing in the craft business.

Kristine has always loved working with her hands and all her life wanted to do something in fine arts. At high school, Limuru Girls, she was given an opportunity to take art and design as a subject.

Yet, regardless of her love for art, she joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to pursue Information Technology.

The IT diploma did not go to waste though. Kristine uses graphics software for her sketches and CAD software for interior design. It was after this that she joined the Buruburu institute to do what she loved most and where she

Now Kristine is determined to create awareness of the craft in Kenya while making beautiful contemporary pieces.

It has been difficult to outsource the production as there is a limited skilled labour. “The older the technique I would want to engage in, like batik, the more difficult it is to find skilled people,” she said.