It amazes me sometimes what one email and a little inspiration can accomplish. I have been spending the majority of my last two years in Ethiopia volunteering and learning more about a culture that I have fallen in love with. Last summer I shot women’s street fashion on the streets of Addis Abeba for Trés Awesome. It was such a great experience to be able to bring that back home and to share it with everyone. It was almost surprising the similar feedback I received… “There’s modern fashion in Ethiopia?”
This intrigued me to get involved more and to showcase the fashion scene Addis Abeba. My next goal was to find an up and coming fashion designer in Ethiopia. After months of research, I kept seeing Fikirte Addis’s name pop up all over various fashion blogs. After I looked at her designs & read her bio, I had a feeling that this was the designer I needed to work with.
I contacted Fikirte about shooting her next lookbook for her label, YEFIKIR. Not expecting a quick response or a response in general, Fikirte wrote back to me within a day and not only was interested but, excited about the idea.
From that point on, we spent the next two months planning her lookbook through emailing, texting and Skype. From the locations, to the models, ideas & direction of the shoot, all was being intricately planned having never even met face to face.
Once we had the lookbook planned out, I knew this could be something special if in fact, it did actually happen. I called upon my creative partner/sister/make-up artist extraordinaire, Elizabeth Neish to come out and do make-up for the shoot. Elizabeth being one of the most creative and loyal people I’ve ever known, never for a single second questioned the project. She booked her ticket to Ethiopia the very next day. From that point on, it was go time.
The moment Elizabeth and I met Fikirte, we knew something special was about to happen. I have never met a more inspiring person in my life. Her personality, outlook on life, creativity & work ethic, was awe inspiring.
We shot over two days in and around Addis Abeba. We couldn’t have had a better team of people working together. Our models, Lula & Yetem… cannot speak highly enough of their professionalism and when it came down to crunch time, those two brought their A game. Really proud of them & look forward to their bright careers they have ahead of them.
I hope that you see these not just as fashion photos but, the result of what can be accomplished with a bit passion and drive. This lookbook is the result of three cultures (Ethiopian, Canadian & American) coming together with one artistic goal. We live in a wonderful time. We can collaborate with anyone in the world we wish. We have the technology that allows connection unlike any other time before us. Use it to your advantage. I challenge you to stretch beyond your city or country & try to make something with someone you never would’ve dreamed of. You may surprise yourself.
“This season’s designs are about a women functioning in this dynamic, modern world whilst still remaining rich in her culture and tradition. She is proud of her origin and is confident, at peace with herself. My past collections were reflective of my internal dilemma, how to be cutting edge while still in touch with the rich traditional and cultural heritage of Ethiopia. I don’t feel like there is a dichotomy between tradition and modernity for me anymore, I feel they can mix together, complement each other, harmonize.”
~ Fikirte Addis
Photographer: Kyle La Mere // @KyleLaMere
Make-up: Elizabeth Neish // @NeishMakeUp
Hair: Teddy Micethwe
Models: Lula Teklehaimanot // Yetem Nurbeza
For more on Fikirte Addis:
*** Behind the scenes Photos by: Salima Punjani ***