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Victoria Kimani: America inspired my fashion choices, Nigeria turned me into a designer

French fashion designer and businesswoman Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not only in clothes. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening”.

These words could not ring truer than in the life of American-born Kenyan musician Victoria Kimani, a sultry and sensational Afropop musician with a huge audience especially in Kenya and Nigeria. Not only has her music put her on the global map, but her fashion sense has not been left behind as she continues to make bold fashion statements wherever she goes.

Ms Kimani was born in Los Angeles, California in the United States of America where she lived with her family before moving to Africa with her parents. As an adult, she took up residence in Nigeria where her music career reached new heights when she signed to Chocolate City record label, splitting her time between Nigeria and her native Kenya.

Speaking to Nairobi News on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, Ms Kimani revealed the inspiration behind her fashion style and how it has evolved based on the different cultures she has lived in while in different countries.

“It’s probably (because of) where I grew up. I can’t completely blame America because my mother showed me very early on that the way she dressed was very reflective of her perspective as an African woman in America and she was very flashy. And I think a lot of Africans are very flamboyant when they want to be. This woman would not go to the post office without a pair of earrings – a nice pair of earrings. She always wanted to look the part, whether she was picking me up from school, going to church or shopping.

So I think the unapologetic side (of my fashion) came from seeing my mum do it, but then being in the States, we didn’t have to wear school uniforms, so a lot of times we decided to dress like ‘this is how I want to show up in the world and it’s my choice’. Nobody dictated that to me. So having that upbringing, like in elementary school, I can express myself through what I wear and I don’t have the pressure to wear the same thing as everyone else, that was cool and it’s like if you copied someone in the States they’d be like ‘you’re copying me’ you know what I mean? It forces you to be an individual,” Ms Kimani began.

After moving to Africa with her parents, who are a pastor and a missionary, Ms Kimani revealed that they first landed in Nigeria, where they stayed for two years. It was in West Africa that she was introduced to a fashion scene where people made their own clothes after buying fabric from shops.

“You go to the fabric store to buy fabric, you go to the tailor and tell them what you want and how you want it to fit your body; and you go to the event in your own designs. Nigeria made me a designer because by default, everybody wanted to buy fabric. It was just part of the culture. I think that combination is lethal, so now I have access to all these beautiful fabrics, I understand that I’m allowed to be an individual and I don’t see it any other way. I can’t copy you because then you’ll say I’m copying you,” continued Ms Kimani.

One of her most memorable fashion outfits was the ensemble she wore to the Ferre Gola concert in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where she performed in front of over 80,000 fans. Her dress, designed by a Kenyan fashion label, caused a sensation and made headlines across the continent.

“The lady is definitely one of the best fashion designers in Kenya and she did this for me at the last minute. I had an idea to wear something different and two nights before I left for Kinshasa I called her and she said to just come and try on a dress, make some adjustments, add some stones here and there and she did her thing. That is a representation of what it means when we work together. I only looked fabulous because of her, because we worked on it together. Her dress has been seen by millions because on Instagram later – I have like 2.7 million views on one of the reels where I’m wearing that dress, and then another one had two million. So millions of people have seen her designs because she put me in them and because I do music. You can see how a collaboration amplifies all of us. So that was fire,” says Ms Kimani.

And because fashions fade but style is eternal, Ms Kimani is on a roll and doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon with her bold, fashion-forward statement looks, living up to Oscar de la Renta’s sentiments that “Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself.

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