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5 on Friday: Kahindo Mateene

Congratulations to Kahindo Mateene! She was one of the featured designers on Project Runway, Season 12. Unfortunately she was eliminated in episode 2. Even so, it was great to watch her work her magic on the show.

Ever wonder why a designer chose those certain colors? Or what makes them tick? I do. And that’s what 5 on Friday is all about — learning more about designers (and hopefully discovering some fabulous new ones in the process). This week’s designer is Kahindo Mateene.

Kahindo Mateene is a Congolese fashion designer who is based in Chicago. Her ethical womenswear line, Modahnik, draws on rich colors and textures that harken back to the 1970s, but with a modern twist. Her designs are bold, beautiful and feminine. See her latest collection here.

Ms. Mateene was kind enough to answer five questions for Sassy Closet … here’s what she had to say:

Sarah by the Sea: When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

Kahindo Mateene: I think that creativity and love for fashion has always been in me from a young age. I remember flipping through Spiegel catalogs as a child with my sister and picking out our favorite pieces. But I really decided to pursue this as a career in 2000, and then enrolled in the Fashion Design program at the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago.

KM: When I design a collection I really look at the “Modahnik” woman primarily to see what she would wear and how the piece would fit into her wardrobe and lifestyle. I also look at general trends but never design to be “trendy.” I would like my pieces to be classical and timeless but have that “Modahnik” twist. This all culminates in a very colorful palette and the use of brightly colored African prints, which is the DNA of my brand. I tend to pick vibrant colors in saturated hues and also mix the cotton prints with silk satin, charmeuse and twill fabrics.

SBTS: What inspires you?

KM: I get inspiration from a number of different things. My surroundings for sure, the architecture here in Chicago is just amazing, as well as the museums and different cultures. I love to travel, so I am influenced by the many different places I have been fortunate enough to visit, especially the beaches in Mexico, Cape Town, Mombasa and Zanzibar. I also love to play with the intersection of the modern world that I live in and my ethnic African upbringing and background.

SBTS: What’s one new trend for 2011 that everyone should know about?

KM: Color, color color. Women need to embrace vibrant colors more and not be afraid to try out prints. Of course you cannot forget a fabulous Modahnik Dress, which will be a must have this summer!

SBTS: What’s your one must-have accessory these days?

KM: Scarves. This is a must have accessory in the brutal winters we get here in Chicago, but its also an opportunity to dress up an outfit. I love layering multiple scarves. I love wearing my purple, yellow and hot pink Pashminas, they always make me happy and just brighten up my day 🙂

Thanks to Kahindo Mateene, Fashion Designer & Owner of Modahnik! You can also check out Kahindo’s Project Runway Season 12 profile.

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