Kenyan by Design

Sunday, November 25, 2012    

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With a singsong lilt he recalls memories of Africa. For filmmaker Mykal Cushnie, his recent trek across the African continent provided a kaleidoscopic collection of unforgettable moments. A reflective Cushie tells SO: "I've been asked that question twice — 'what was my high point?' — but honestly, there were so many, it truly is more the resounding reception we got from everywhere we went in Africa."

The 'we' would be Cushnie's merry band of three: his fellow documentarian Donisha Prendergast and singer Kellisa McDonald. The trio was on an African sojourn for a documentary project titled 50 Days in Afrika — made possible by the Supreme Venture Foundation and The CHASE Fund — that started in Kenya and routed through Ghana, Namibia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Their aim: explore the creative and cultural bonds, and unique differences, between the people of The Rock and The Motherland. Cushnie says what became readily apparent criss-crossing Africa was their urge for all things Jamaican, be it music, food, or fashion.

Inversely, Cushnie found himself quite taken with Africa, too, and its colourful sense of style. "They are very bright, loud, expressive people," he shares. "Africa is not watching anybody else's fashion, they are not conformists. They embrace their own culture and celebrate it."

In a weird twist of being in the right place at the right time, Cushnie and Prendergast became overnight modelling stars after a chance encounter with Kenyan-based, Scottish-born designer Ann McCreath.

"Donisha and I were having a conversation with some advertising and marketing people in a hotel restaurant when Ann, who has a store on the property, was walking by and heard our accents. She immediately took to us when she heard we were Jamaican and loved our dreadlocks and pleaded with us to follow her to her store to do a photo shoot with her clothing."

The photo session, which Cushnie shared exclusively with SO, produced striking and even soulful results. Here's a peek at McCreath's Kiko Romeo line that stars two photogenic models you just may know.




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