Perspectives - A Conversation with Lalesso

This week, Perspectives talks to Olivia Kennaway and Alice Heusser of Lalesso. Lalesso's trademark is the African inspired textiles used in all collections. The brand encapsulates the lifestyle of an endless African summer.


1. How did both of you meet and how did you decide to come together under Lalesso?

We met studying fashion design in Cape Town. After Alice visited me in my home country Kenya, we discovered a mutual love for East African textiles and decided to do something with it.


2. Why the name Lalesso?

The traditional name for a khanga is a lesso. When we first started we were La Kanga - after a couple of intellectual property issues and some rebranding - we decided we loved the feeling and sound of Lalesso more.


3. I love your use of the Kanga, why did you first decide to use it?

We were eating mangos on the shores of Manda Island near Lamu when we decided to use them. They are just so ornately diverse and carry such a rich cultural heritage that they serve as such a wonderful form of inspiration.


4. The last few seasons have involved the use of custom prints. How do you go about deciding what to go with?

We start with a mood board where we collect imagery of all sorts of shapes and forms that are inspiring and appealing to us. From there we pick a more defined direction whether it be organic or graphic or floral for the collection of prints (always either 3 or 4). Working closely with our textile designer we develop the patterns and it becomes a very involved back and forth process of swapping borders and fills and motif elements around.

We usually have a fair idea of the palettes at the beginning but these often take more shape once the design's more formalised. We always look at the 3 or 4 prints as a whole when scheming the palettes so that the collection as a whole holds a good sense of continuity and can be merchandised well together - it's not always easy selling bold vibrant colours and print!


5. What informed your decision to introduce a resort collection?

I think the vibrancy of our prints really encouraged this transition - they are so well suited to the beach and a summer-centrique lifestyle so it was really an organic progression.


6. What are your favourite styles from your SS15 and SS16 collections?

From SS15 I love the Ajabu Dress and the Kifahari Jumpsuit. From SS16 gosh there are so many to chose - I would have to say the Shanga, Shabiki and Puto Dresses if I HAD to chose! 


7. Which designers do you currently admire and why?

We love Camilla and Mara Hoffman for their use of prints and their love of summer - we like to think that what they are to Australia and the USA we will be to Africa!


8. Why did you decide to produce in Kenya?

This was another very organic eventuality - it didn't really seem like there was another option to be honest. We love the skills and craftsmanship that comes out of Kenya and it's so inspiring to work with kenyan people, supporting them and utilising their fantastic skills both in a traditional and contemporary context.

Thank you to Olivia and Alice for talking to Ichyulu!

Shop Lalesso