This year’s Kenya Fashion Awards gala might the best one yet

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Galina Tatarinova, the co-founder of the Kenya Fashion Awards, made her move from Russia to Kenya because as she puts it, she simply fell in love with Kenya.

Since that time she has played a major role in shaping this country’s fashion industry through her designs like the iconic wedding dress she designed for Sharon Mundia (This is Ess) and through the Kenya Fashion Awards which is celebrating its 5th year.

She spoke to Kathy Kaittany of Y254 about the preparations for the KFA gala, the nominees and what to expect at this year’s gala.

NB: This interview aired on Y254 on Wednesday morning.

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Kenya Fashion Awards
Guests at the Kenya Fashion Awards gala 2016

KFA covers different categories such as students, upcoming, emerging and established

How are the plans for the Gala coming along?

Yeah, it’s coming along well. There are a lot of expectations but we are ready.

Should we expect a bigger turnout this year?

Hopefully, yes.

Before we talk about the big night, tell me what inspired these awards? How was the idea born?

The idea (KFA) was born several years ago. We saw a gap in the industry; people working in the fashion industry needed support and recognition. We wanted the award event to cover the whole industry so we came up with different criteria for different categories. When this first started, the industry was in disarray, of course, so we needed some order hence the criteria. We put all that together into one package called the Kenya Fashion Awards.

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Kenya Fashion Awards

There are several designers we have been working with like Jamil Walji who, if I’m not mistaken, showcased his pieces in Brazil last year

How do you go about selecting the nominees for the Kenya Fashion Awards? What are the criteria?

As I said, the KFA covers different categories and each category has different criteria. Some of the categories include students, upcoming, emerging and established. The criteria are different for every category. If they are students, we work with the universities and judges from the industry and use the chosen criteria to shortlist them for finals. All of this is on our website.

Are stylists also recognized by the Kenya Fashion Awards?

Yes of course. We cover the whole industry. Starting from the models, designers, stylists, bloggers, fashion photographers etc. Every segment of the industry.

What is your advice to students?

I would encourage them to participate. They can apply for the stylist competition coming up next year, and they don’t have to be students to do that. We usually give them challenges, such as dressing the models. They work with judges during these challenges who then pick the winners. This is an opportunity to be recognised.

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Kenya Fashion Awards

We do a fashion photography workshop every year in collaboration with Canon Central and North Africa

Are there any success stories we can identify with or we can be proud of about designers who’ve been recognised outside of Kenya thanks to the Kenya Fashion Awards?

Yes. There are several designers we have been working with like Jamil Walji who is on our (Kenya Fashion Awards) advisory board. He’ll also be showcasing his work this year at the Gala. If I’m not mistaken, last year he showcased his pieces in Brazil.

What is the impact that KFA has had?

There’s been a big impact, especially for the youth. We do some workshops every year in collaboration with  Canon Central and North Africa. It’s a fashion photography workshop where they (youth) learn a lot. It’s the impact we have on our youth in society. We also have the modelling academy where we give them a platform. By the time they leave. They’ve learnt a lot, not only about modelling but also about how to behave and how to present themselves.

Tell me a little bit more about the modelling academy. What’s the cost, where do I find it?

Those interested can give us a call and we will be able to advise in detail. Some courses run for three to four months depending on the course, some are basic and some are more advanced. The price is also dependent on the course. We’ve seen a lot of our young models get jobs thereafter. Apart from modelling, they also learn about job creation by starting their own businesses.

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Kenya Fashion Awards
Guests at the Kenya Fashion Awards 2015

Come dressed to the nines. We call the event, our Kenyan fashion Oscars

As a spectator what should I expect when I show up for the gala on Saturday night?

First of all, come dressed to the nines. We call the event, our Kenyan fashion Oscars, so that’s the expectation. It’s a red carpet affair, there will be cocktails provided by Moët et Chandon, of course as well as interviews and photo sessions. They’ll also be an amazing fashion show and entertainment. Several designers will also be showcasing their work at the event, new collections exclusively created for the KFA Gala. And of course the award ceremony.

As we finish, are we doing enough to support our designers as compared to fashion hubs such as Europe?

To be honest we need more support. By comparison, there’s a lot more Kenya can do. However, we are seeing more and more people embracing our industry and trusting local designers. We see the growth and change. They used to order from Dubai and China but now they’re approaching local designers. I believe the clients are also happier because these dresses are custom made which means they fit better, it’s more personal and the whole process of commissioning a dress is interesting.

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