There’s nothing like speaking with Africans that not only call Africa home, but see a brighter future for such a rich continent.. Lilly Yohannes and ZeZe Yohannes, or formally know as, the Yohannes Sister’s Couture, conceptualize each collection around this ideology. Focusing on their love for Ethiopia, each collection mixes the beauty of traditional wear and fabric, with a more Westernized execution. And by threading love into every nook and cranny, their designs are nothing less than majestic, empowering, and personally yours.
This past Hub of Africa Fashion Week, we sat down with Lilly Yohannes to talk inspiration, African women, and what to expect next season. P.S. They are creating a masterpiece for me, so make sure to follow us on Instagram to see the work of art on display!
Tell us the inspiration behind your brand.
Our inspiration for this collection was a combination of two things. One was Lioness Arising as it represents the confidant Ethiopian woman that broke barriers and was confident to be herself. And the second is called “enat” which means “mother” in Amharic and we were honoring mums. I know mums are special, but Ethiopian mums specifically have been through so much. So this was our way of honoring them. That’s why we were basically using traditional materials to represent the Ethiopian woman.
The silhouettes of your pieces are very diverse, was this intentional.
First and foremost we believe every woman is beautiful. Every woman. And specifically coming from Africa, African women are voluptuous. So we make our dresses to fit any woman. For instance, if it’s very open in front, not every bodyshape can wear that.
What are your favorite pieces?
Top three are the ones you saw right now. (laughs) We love gold. Usually all our embroideries and hand woven materials have gold in them, because gold represents the majestic side of Ethiopia. You know, we were a kingdom way back, so it is our way to represent Ethiopia to the fullest.
Are pieces bespoke or ready-to-wear?
Yeah, we have our website right now, but we also do custom-made. You know, what fits one may not fit another. So we’re trying to make it easy for people to order. We’ll have a variety of choices, maybe six or seven types that fits different people.
What can we look forward to seeing next season?
Next season is going to be velvet. Velvet with embroidery. Very majestic. Very royal. Again, representing that side of Ethiopia. When we make a collection it’s not just a dress, or money, or marketing. It’s always a message. It’s an awareness. Africa is always talked about in a very negative way and we want to change that. That’s why next time we are thinking to base it on African queens. Africans used to rule back in the day, so we really want to give that confidence to that woman. This is our history, and we can look like this, and our future should be this way. We always want to create that awareness that Africa was and will be. It’s an education in the process.
What do you think of Hub of Africa Fashion Week?
So far, good. It’s a very, very slow growth. Very challenging especially when you are a woman, but this is our passion. We’re never going to give up. And while we’re making money, and while we’re designing, and while we’re dressing people, we also want to spread the word.