AFI Fashion Week | Mille Collines

Jacket x YSL, Jeans x Diesel, Shirt x Zara, Glasses x Celine, Mule x Zara, Clutch x Ted Baker. Ph x Anthony Bila

With the wellness trend taking the world by storm, is this fashion's ways of saying 'don’t sacrifice the fun in your style'? Or is the avant-garde, peacock trend purely on the rise again? Either way, I love statement shoes; they bring out the fun in a simple outfit and reflect your personality. The more fun, the better the outfit. “The fact is, sometimes it’s hard to walk in a single woman’s shoes. That’s why we need really special ones now and then, to make the walk a little more fun.” – Carrie Bradshaw

What I Wore at Mille Collines - From wonderful, to bizarre, to standing out in the crowd, shoes are no longer a uniform necessity we have to wear on a daily basis; instead the shoes are wearing us. With last years flatform’s having a major upgrade, buckle boots transforming into buckle flats, kitten heels being resurrected from the 90’s and mules of varying kinds, and a trend which is up for speculation, mismatched shoe boots (the same shoe but wearing two different colours), footwear is having a moment. Fashion has always been an art form and a way of expressing ones self, but what has suddenly bought on the influx of the statement shoe?

Mille Collines AW17 –a celebration of diversity at MBFWCT

"In a world where differences are increasingly emphasised and where people are divided and separated, it seemed fitting to celebrate the rich beauty that comes from combining many different influences. We wanted to celebrate the fact that, despite parochial thinking in some quarters, the world is becoming more of a mélange every day,” says founder and director of Mille Collines, Inés Mille.

“Therefore the theme for this collection is ‘we become one’.”

The collection shown at Salt River Studios, Cape Town, on 7 April 2017 as part of African Fashion International (AFI) -Official PageMercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town, is indeed proof that diverse cultures and ways of creative expression can make a harmonious whole.

Mille Collines itself is proof that cross-pollination is a huge advantage when it comes to design –Ines Mille and cofounder and creative director Marc Collines moved from Spain to set up shop in Kigali, Rwanda, before relocating to Cape Town and joining forces with Kenyan designer Namnyak Odupoy. “This collection takes its inspiration from the Swahili that live along Africa’s east coast. We were especially drawn to the fact that the Swahili culture is made up of African, Persian and Arab influences expressed in the wood carvings in their architecture, the colourful kanga they wear and their natural woven hats and carpets,” says Collines.

“It is an example of how the world is coming together and how new interpretations of culture are coming alive today.”

Their AW17 collection is the latest iteration of their Essentials line that has at its heart everyday comfort, clean shapes and a strong African influence. This winter’s fit is very relaxed and flowy, inspired by the coastal breeze, and the fabrics are predominantly crepes, matt satins and cottons contrasted with layers of heavier cotton knit jacquard.Taking their cue from the vibrant kanga designs, the tunic and shirt dresses, knitted jackets and relaxed trousers are more colourful than previous ranges. Lively prints offset neutral fabrics like the intricate wood carvings that adorn the Lamu architecture and touches of bold banana yellow and turquoise evoke the colours of the sea and beach. Mille Collines fans will be happy to know that their typical monochrome and neutral shades of grey and sand are there too and live alongside the new vibrant blue and green designs with bold prints.

For the coming southern-hemisphere autumn/winter they have again collaborated with three different designers that each bring a unique perspective but nevertheless stay true to their African ethos. The prints were done in collaboration with Japanese designer Tomoko Kotsuji who has been working on the continent and particularly in Kenya and Senegal. Her Japanese influence has brought a whole new element and restrained character to traditional Swahili kanga designs.The new range of extra-large Maxi straw hats were conceived and created by Crystal BirchThe Real Crystal Birch, designer, stylist and milliner extraordinaire. “We love her creativity and how she is pushing the limits of headgear with innovative shapes, proportions and materials,” says Mille. The show opened with a range of flowy, printed dresses in very fresh colours accessorised with Birch’s hats. In a further nod to East Africa, the hats appeared styled together with draped fabrics as head coverings, evoking the Islamic dress and culture of the region.Purely Porcelain was asked to collaborateon their jewellery range and the result is delicate, matt porcelain pieces mounted in brass cuffs, necklaces and earrings. The white porcelain too echoes the clean white architecture found on Africa’s east coast and the shapes, textures and cut-outs stem from Swahili craftsmen’s elaborate hand carvings.All models wore sneakers from, which brought a street feel to the collection and is in line with Mille Collines’ urban character and the designers’ commitment to creating wearable, practical ready-to-wear fashion. The garments, accessories and jewellery will be released in a series of capsule collections with the first becoming available immediately after the show and the last in May 2017. The collection will be available at Mille Collines’ stores in Nairobi, Kenya as well as online at

Facebook: mille collines Twitter: @mille_collines Instagram: mille collines Web: Photography credits: Jonx Pillemar

Show producer: Deon Redman Creative Production