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BN Features:KiRette Couture

Ijeoma Balogun

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Anrette & Kibonen

Anrette & Kibonen

KiRette Couture (KC) is a new movement. And at its helm are Cameroonian duo Kibonen Nfi and Anrette Ngafor. The business savvy image consultant and her über trendy fashion graduate partner weave the originality of tradition and the vibrancy of contemporary styles to bring African sexy back to the wardrobe and catwalk.

Hatched in the New York chic bubble, KC’s signature style is inspired by the toghu – a colourful and intricately embroidered robe typically worn, on special occasions, by the people of Nfi and Ngafor’s native Western Highlands region. This one-of-a kind label strides boldly across racial and cultural borders by exploring, experimenting with and fusing textiles from around the world.

With sourcing arrangements in Africa and beyond, KC specialises in tailored, handcrafted and limited edition pieces. Since its inception in January 2009, KiRette Couture continues to build a steady on and offline following of cool “KiRetters” who indulge in its luxurious yet affordable creations.

Celebrated outings in Washington DC and Manhattan, and a widely acclaimed gallery event in Manchester (UK), have propelled KC to a class of its own.

BN was glad to have a chat with Anrette and Kibonen on their label and aspirations for KiRette Couture.

Bella Naija: When did fashion designing begin?

Kibonen Nfi: Fashion is instinctive to me. I always dreamed of being more than a consumer of this industry. It is my goal to influence global trends. I have a BA in English and French from the University of Buea, Cameroon and am studying for a degree in International Trade and Marketing in the Fashion Industry, at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

Anrette Ngafor:I have always been into vogue. While growing up in Cameroon, I would often advise my siblings and parents on what to wear. My mother and father were very stylish so they encouraged my talent and sacrificed a lot to fund my studies in the UK. An Art and Design course at the Manchester College of Arts and Technology developed my passion for textiles. I later enrolled on a BTEC programme in Fashion and Interior Design which enabled me to pursue a BA in Fashion Styling, Photography and Image Making at the University of Salford, Manchester. My degree studies set the scene for KiRette Couture.

BN: When was KiRette Couture (KC) established?

KN: KC was formed in January 2009. The path to its creation is very interesting. I stumbled upon pictures of Anrette’s work on face book and knew straightaway that I had found the one (to team up with). We have achieved so much together. Many people think KC has been in business for 3 years or more but we are just 7 months old! The buzz around us is extremely motivating.

AN:Kibonen fell in love with the way I styled our traditional toghu* for my final year project and called me to discuss the irresistible idea of taking our cultural chic global. Before long, I was on a plane to New York and KC was born!

BN: What inspires your collections? What inspired your current offering?

KN:Naturally, our signature toghu embroidery is a major source of inspiration. Trends and positive concepts also influence us. For instance, the idea for our debut collection, Zinzi, came from Anrette’s and my desire to celebrate the powerful and sexy woman. Power and aggression are often conflated; we wanted to clarify the difference between them. By adorning delicate satin materials with regal needlecraft, we communicated the compatibility between the strong and soft sides of a woman.
Africa’s rich and versatile colours moved us to blend the sexy cuts and gorgeous fabrics that make up the Afrik Lux oeuvre.

AN:Our muse for Zinzi was the Angolan queen, Nzingha Mbandi. She was a beautiful, intelligent and strong leader who always put her people first. Nzingha presents an amazing role model not just for Africans but also for people around the world. We captured her essence through classy and chic designs. Our latest collection is an interpretation of African luxury through vivid tones, sophisticated cloths and exquisite hand embroidery.

BN: Who is the KiRette Couture Woman?

KN:The KiRette Couture woman is confident and cool. She knows what she wants and dares to achieve it. Every KC woman is stylish, cultured and intelligent.

AN:The KiRette Couture woman is powerful, sexy and wholesome. She appreciates her heritage and embraces difference.

BN: What were the challenges you faced in establishing your fashion label?

KN: Acquiring the levels of finance we need to realise an explosion is not easy, especially in this tricky economic climate. But we are determined to do it. Our supportive clients also keep us focused.

AN: It can be hard to access our target market sometimes. But despite the difficulties, we are very excited to be in this business and love every minute of navigating the steep learning curve.

BN: What do you hope for your label in the future?

KN:It is our dream to make KiRette Couture a leader in socially responsible business. Africa is at a turning point and we want to play a key role in designing its destiny by investing in local communities. We are our most precious resource!

AN:My dream is to see fashionistas clamouring for KC clothes in stores like Selfridges and Top Shop. We will also bring a special touch to high-end boutiques around the world.

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (104) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (109) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (126) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (178) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (215) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (269) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (277) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (311) webready

Kirette Couture photoshoot manchester 09-05-15 (316) webready

Contact KiRette Couture:

UK branch: Anrette Ngafor
Tel: +44 (0)7912 602 095
Email:[email protected]

US division: Kibonen Nfi
Tel: +001 347 5432464
[email protected]

Images and media enquiries:
Ngum Ngafor
Tel: +44 (0) 7944 043 954
Email: [email protected]

42 Comments

  1. J

    August 17, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Fantastic!
    Great styling too.

  2. THE AMAKA

    August 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    im loving the pictures! i never really understood couture, no one in their right mind is going to wear it in public or on a red carpet anyway. people usually tend to go more simple.
    but nice anyway.

    also i know these are AFRICAN girls, but what does cameroon have to do with Nigeria?
    but anyway nice, big ups!

  3. Cynthia

    August 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I support these girls all the way, making us Cameroonians very proud! Catch them at the Camer Couture fashion showcase at the elegant and rustic Shoreditch Studios in Shoreditch, London. Check out the website for more information on securing your ticket! http://www.camercouture.com

  4. mimi

    August 17, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    @ the amaka, it’s not cool to parade your ignorance. this is about style and style knows no bounds. so do you mean to say everything you own is strictly nigerian?

  5. cynthia

    August 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    @ the Amaka, please as Mimi said don’t parade your ignorance. Bella Naija aspires to be AFRICA’s Number 1 music, style, movie, tv and beauty website so go and check where Cameroon is and you will find out it is in AFRICA. This is not a naija only site. Thank you

  6. Sugabelly

    August 17, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    The point of couture is that it’s a showpiece. Basically in a collection, the designer makes 85% ready to wear clothes and 15% couture pieces.

    The ready to wear pieces are what actually make the money. The couture pieces are purely to illustrate the craftsmanship and talent of the designer to the audience.

    Admittedly, SOME people buy and wear couture pieces, but most couture pieces are not meant to be worn anywhere, unless they are commissioned for a particular person.

    Also, for it to really be couture, it must be hand sewn from start to finish. So, while these clothes are really pretty, if they are not completely sewn by hand with a needle and thread, then they are not couture.

    Many couture dresses take months or even years to make.

  7. michelle

    August 17, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    please these young designers have to stop ….i mean i can’t even …pls before we start arguing about country and models can we go back to the basics..what is couture….defintely not this…pls once a again stop putting up things that would even make baby phat look like couture…. and what’s on the guy..some nappy/diapier thing tied to his leg…god knows karl largerfield did that he would shot on site….

  8. gwen

    August 17, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    i want to clap for these two gurls.We give them a big five.Anywhere they go we are behind them.They are an inspiration of a young African woman.Not all who think you can only succeed by selling your body.
    keep up dearies
    God Almighty is watching over you guys.Don’t forget to put him first and before you know ,the sky will be your limit.
    bravooooo

  9. Lola

    August 18, 2009 at 1:21 am

    People need to STOP throwing that word couture around as if it’s a slice of boiled YAM!!!!!!!!

    This is annoying,yeah nice,simple wearable pieces if this is your kind of thing..but VERY FAR from what couture is.

    I think a lot of this budding wannabe designers need to work under the “masters of the art” and LEARN what couture is and entails to the last detail before churning out any and everything and labelling it couture.

    Well done girls anyway.

  10. Cynthia

    August 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Yes Lola and Michelle, we all know “couture” alludes to “high end fashion pieces” but in this day and age a name does not necessarily allude to what it means. Don’t look at it too literally, these girls are just trying to create their niche and stand out in the fashion market..be it African or Cameroonian.

  11. Beah

    August 18, 2009 at 11:56 am

    1. the occupation of a couturier; dressmaking and designing.
    2. fashion designers or couturiers collectively.
    3. the clothes and related articles designed by such designers.
    4. the business establishments of such designers, esp. where clothes are made to order.
    If we knew abit of french we wld have understood the use of Couture which originates from french simply dress making too.
    also the pieces are made in Cameroon by local seamstresses – Not massed produced in China. and they are made to order. It must not be Nigerian to be right. Cameron too is the new up and coming.
    If we understand Cameroon culture then we will se how they have transformed the traditional outfits to mre modern pieces.
    Cheers
    Couture- Kini big deal

  12. Beah

    August 18, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    ps check out the meanng of couture on dictionary.com Ignorance no good oh

  13. Ola

    August 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    God bless you! Even I went to look up the meaning of couture but I wasn’t sure whether to come and paste the meaning. When I looked up “Haute Couture”(different thing!) I found out that in France, the term is like a copyright for the oldest fashion houses, not any designer could claim it. So you get the Chanel and the Christian Dior “Haute Couture” pieces. That is a whole different meaning from “Couture” on its own, as Beah as kindly educated us. Nigerians please get a grip.

  14. Ice

    August 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    All you haters should just STOP!!! Why can’t you appreciate people’s effort. If the world was full of peeps like u, we’d all still be in the Dark Ages. Bravo Kibs and Anrette.

  15. olachi

    August 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    chineke…people have time o!

  16. EGGONE

    August 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    madam where did you ‘copy’ the above from?

    You really have time as Olachi said.

    The amaka your ignorance is alarming.

  17. K-babe

    August 18, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    what! People don’t know CAMEROON is in Africa? Soooooooo sad. I am a Cameroonian and i completely get where the comcept of these designs come from.it takes a lot of time and dedication to make these dresses, if u are even a little open minded you would find out what u are talking about before u say it. i absolutely would wear anything from their collection cuz it is such a statement. not for the fickle this one. i am an avid fashion junkie and i know these ladies are going places.
    Couture all the way. they might make a few haute cuture pieces here and there but i can assure u it will be wearable! XOXO girls

  18. Maxie

    August 18, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Michelle you argue like a whim and claim to know about Couture. You dont so either you go create something of your own or you sit down and be quiet. This is a media outlet not a place to show of your wanna be smarts. Success begins with a step. whether they call it Couture, sculputure or portrait. The idea is bringing something new to the scene and inspiring people in this crazy economy to be proactive. You are buzz killers and stop putting down your own people for the sake of a name. Get a life and get creatice like the KiRette women. That is what they are all about.

  19. Maxie

    August 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Michelle and Lola and “THE AMAKA” you guys baffle me at what you would do to bring down your own creativity as Africans. You claim to know much about fashion and the word Couture so show us by example or you can go sit down some where and be quiet. These girls are doing something to create inspiration and stimulate the economy even if it is at a rate of .0001%. they are being proactive and less complains. As you sit here and debate, they are busy somewhere learning new things, getting new gigs and weaving new designs. Stop being a buzz killer and encourage someone who is making an attempt. Pessimism is so not charming.
    This is a media outlet. Not a place to show off your smarts. If you know so much then correct by example. Any one can talk garbage only a few can actually do something about it. These girls seem to be everywhere which means they are making a statement, whether as Couture or as tailors or whatever it may be. Try to see the best in people and people will see the best in you.

  20. Sugabelly

    August 18, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I didn’t copy it. I know what couture is, and I know the fashion industry. Wow, she asked a question and I answered it. Big deal.

  21. sally

    August 18, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    @ michelle: why should they stop just because it’s not to your taste? fashion has always been about people breaking norms to define themselves. people criticised vivienne westwood for her rebellious style and look at her today. we can analyse the meaning of couture till we’re blue in the face but these chicks are definitely putting their spin on it. bravo KC girls! not everybody will like your work but you keep doing your thing. you’re going places and even some of the haters on here would be clamouring for your clothes when you’re stand shoulder to shoulder with the big names.

  22. mary

    August 18, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    they say any publicity is good publicity. these ladies certainly got people talking! well done chicas. your designs are wicked!

  23. lilian

    August 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    @ ola: thank you! some people really could do with french lessons.

  24. vero

    August 18, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    lola darling, couture simply means made to measure and these clothes are. why should everyone choose only one path to a designing career anyway? these girls are not wannabes. they are!

  25. jennietobbie

    August 18, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. EGGONE

    August 19, 2009 at 12:02 am

    I believe you… i suppose you just knew that by heart abi? being that your ‘couture’ collection is called sugabelly i guess… lol! please stop trying to be a ‘Know it all’ – Amaka spoke like the ignorant malu we all know she is and ur job is to fuel that ignorance abi? Please start referencing ur comments and stop passing it off as urs. Thanks

  27. missykate

    August 19, 2009 at 12:34 am

    “People need to STOP throwing that word couture around as if it’s a slice of boiled YAM!!!!!!!!”

    hilarious. u actually throw boiled yam around! it’s meant to be eaten love.

  28. Lola

    August 19, 2009 at 12:45 am

    I guess all the sura the tailors in Lagos are couturiers too..ABI NO BE THE SAME MADE TO MEASURE??

    IT IS CALLED COUTURE FOR A REASON..MUMU…

    Since we doing DICTIONARY.COM.why don’t you all knowing one READ READ READ….
    Over time the word COUTURE HAS BEEN DILUTED..HENCE WE HAVE WHAT WE HAVE HERE…ALL THE WANNABE DESIGNERS LABELLING ANYTHING THEY DO AS COUTURE…

    DICTIONARY.COM SHA..
    PEOPLE MAKE ME CHUCKLE WITH DELIGHT AT THEIR AMAZING IGNORANCE IMMITATING SENSE.

    Yes the girls are doing good–if what they design is your cup of tea–but COUTURE??
    GIVE ME A DAMN BREAK

    i’M OUT

  29. shirley

    August 19, 2009 at 12:49 am

    what an interesting discussion aroused by the KC pair! i think they’re amazing and simply inspiring. its a wonder whether those so quick to criticise them would do the same if this came from some established european designer. something tells me they wouldn’t. we need to believe in our own more. you have the contacts for the KC women now. if you think they could do things better, why not write to them and tell them constructively? before you drown in the semantics of fashion, ask yourself this: when was the last time you did something brave and worthwhile? these two are bringing something fresh to the scene and creating jobs in the process. that’s plenty more than can be said for many. talk is cheap.

  30. Lola

    August 19, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Haaaaa..
    French lessons sha from wikipedia abi online dictionary
    anyhoooo Chacun voit midi à sa porte(in the most basic terms)

  31. Naughty Eyes

    August 19, 2009 at 6:19 am

    True, these ladies are definitely creative designers and I believe what they need most is creative criticism and encouragement, not plain out insults.

    The designs mostly look fab apart from that guy’s lower garment (can’t figure out a proper name for it).

    Good one girls…

  32. FatherHadADonkey

    August 19, 2009 at 7:54 am

    LMAO…Sugabelly you kill me o!!!LOL!!!
    but really una get time sa!
    but i guess i must be d jobless one for reading all comments and laughing….

  33. EGGONE

    August 19, 2009 at 9:33 am

    lol @ sugabelly, why the rage? Abeg take it easy my dear. I know you were born a walking encyclopedia, but even then……
    I never watched the kokomansion to know the caliber of girls in there, but i will rather be in their crowd where i can discover some raw intellect as opposed to your ‘manufactured’ one. There is nothing and i repeat NOTHING that makes you more human than those girls. If anything, they are free from the sort of pent up rage and angst you display on a daily basis. i DEFINITELY will prefer fitting into their crowd.

  34. Ola

    August 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Posting an irrelevant French saying does not make you any wiser, it shows you as an insufferable know it all – and funnily enough you know nothing. Characteristics of people like you include refusal to take correction!

  35. Lola

    August 19, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    ha ha..nice one..but was trying to make a point..like boiled yam is you know…easy…everywhere…

  36. Lola

    August 19, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    BECAUSE something is from AFRICA,does not mean I am OBLIGATED to ALWAYS support it or heap false praise upon it.
    THAT seems to be something SO MANY bellanaija readers FAIL to GRASP.
    And the sad thing is that it is such an ELEMENTARY concept.
    So let me break it down the KINDERGARTEN way.
    I like 91CE,Anjelique Kidjo,Fela,Kwaito Music–all african.
    But i cannot stand P-SQUARE,Femi,D-banj,Brenda Fassie (are they European?)
    I Love Clothes by some african designers,i will NOT be caught dead in others..
    HOW does the right to MY choice make me someone who is suppressing the “african creativity”
    Did you just hear new words and felt like stringing them together?
    Or you are just generally THIS disorientated in your thinking?
    Do you actually realise that some of us do know what we are talking about and because we disagree with you and others does not make us “haters” “african designer bad-belles” or whatever words you all want to come up with?

    I have no interest in getting new gigs or weaving or sewing anything as it is NOT in my line of work.
    And any true CREATVE SOUL will know that your work is ALWAYS up for criticism whether you like it or not.
    Be you an advertising consultant who has to come up with a catchy ad for a product,or a painter or writer or designer or poet.
    You will ALWAYS get love from some and villified by others..
    Whether you come from Europe,America,Africa or Pluto.
    EVERYBODY cannot LOVE YOU.OR YOUR WORK.
    INFACT ATIMES I THINK BELLA NAIJA READERS ARE ALWAYS TOO KIND IN TERMS OF EXPRESSING THEMSELVES.That “we must support our own nonsense”
    NO..we DON’T have to support EVERYTHING.
    Are you trying to tell me you have never read write ups completely tearing apart more established designers works?
    So what are you saying?Why acting as if people talking is strange or out of the ordinary?
    Or were you just born yesterday?
    So QUIT with the unnecessary preaching,it doesn’t wash with some of us.

    I maintain–nice job from the girls..but COUTURE it ain’t.

  37. shirley

    August 20, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Ola you are too funny!

  38. tralala

    August 20, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Hahaha I visit bella naija these days to get a hearty laugh from those who fight on here. 🙂 I appreciate the smile you guys bring to my face.

  39. Lizzy Bronte

    August 23, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Great job Kibs and Anrette, you guys are doing a wonderful job with these designs. Keep it up, you have us behind you.

  40. ajong

    September 5, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Lola, u still have not understood the meaning of Couture. It can be ued in various forms
    ps just check out ur dico

    every one is up for criticism.
    u shld not take it so seriously as it really is not that serious coz weather u talk or not these gurls r doing a marvelous job. so get a life and focus on being a better person. u r too bitter for ur own good.
    changing their traditional regalia to something this chic n cute , gurl u need to be a genius to come up w it. Their ancestors have used these traditional outfits for ages then they came up w a method that has transformed it from traditional throws to trendy sexy happy styles. r u kidding me Lola? be real.

    no one really cares abt what u like n what u do not. who r u anyway? get a life darling

  41. AfricanPhotography

    September 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    KC, I’m with you girls and the whole world is behind you as well. I think it’s just a lazy man who’ll discourage such initiative. Critisize YES but not insults. We learn from critics in our world, but if you insult someone in the name of critisizm, then nobody will take that. So gurls, I’m with you and will always stand behind you… Call me when you need a professional photography at: +237-7771-6288 or email me at: [email protected] thanks all and let’s encourage those who are making an impact to change the lives… Pete Njodzeka

  42. tita daniel

    January 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

    hi kibs and Anny.i have not forgiven myself for missing Bamenda rocks.
    I am a native of Bali nyonga,and i was hoping to see magic at bamenda rocks as my own culture is going international.As god had it i only returned to find myself at the gate of Ayaba with no good samaritan to offer a ticket.Its really a shame.
    Rest assured the whole of cameroon is behind you even those who think they r not.In case you need any form of assistance,dblockkotu is always ready.If need be,call us at 00237 76 28 91 49 Soa, yaounde,Cameroon.luv y a ll

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