Zekaryas Solomon: The Extravagant, Conceptual and Experimental Designer
Zekaryas Solomon, Eritrea born and German raised, believes a dress is “never just a dress, but can be worn and styled in limitless ways. From a twisted, wrapped, or flipped look, where each garment becomes unique to the wearer.” As the man behind the brand, he draws inspiration from his Eritrean heritage, re-interpreting traditional costumes with a futuristic, functional edge. An architect and artist by profession, which is evident in the structure of his designs, Solomon harboured a secret passion for fashion for years, and in 2009, he decided to follow his dream and went back to study at the London School of Fashion.
Another factor that Solomon says fuelled his desire to pursue a career as a fashion designer was the frustration he and his friends often felt as they struggled to find clothes in styles to suit them, and to fit a naturally lean or athletic build. It was his vision to create clothes that could meet the demands of modern life, while expressing a sense of individuality. His dream came to fruition, when Solomon was among a handful of selected designers to showcase their creations at the inaugural Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) last year.
Solomon describes his label as a high concept fashion label comprising ready-to-wear and individual bespoke tailored garments for men and for women. His favourite fabrics for his men’s wear are stiff linen, cotton and denim. Solomon says they give his style shape and make his creations look dynamic, voluminous and masculine. His X_Slim menswear collection was inspired by an Eritrean traditional costume. Solomon re-interpreted an Eritrean wedding attire for men with an ingenious modern twist. The garment can be worn in several ways in order to vary the size, shape and visual impact of the finished look. For his women’s wear, which are characterised by their versatility, simplicity and comfort, Solomon prefers silk and chiffon because he feels he is able to achieve the smooth, soft, feminine and curvy shapes he wants.
Being constantly busy as he builds his repertoire in the industry has not stopped Solomon from noticing the work of his cotemporaries. On the current state of the African fashion industry, he says: “I love the colourful printed fabrics and the diversity of traditional designs. In different corners of Africa there are amazing traditional outfits which I respect as they are. But I can only talk about Eritrea traditional outfits more than I can Kenyan, Nigerian or South African because I have been researching the different ethnic fashion sense from my country. The only thing I’m not excited about is that designers are almost using the same cut and style. I would love to see more designers who are creating extravagant designs that are conceptual and experimental.” As for the future, Solomon has his sights on achieving some great feats like setting up a business and opening his own flagship store. It his ultimate goal to develop an international brand.
Image of Zekaryas Solomon – Monika Lisiecka for Solomon
Image of model at African fashion London Week, 2011 – John Marxis
Zekaryas Solomon is one of the desingers due to showcase his latest collection at the Arise Fashion Week, Lagos Nigeria.