Ethiopian Designer Enkutatash Kibret Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

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Enkutatash Kibret, better known as Enku, is an upcoming Ethiopian designer. Soft, sensuous and feminine, the designer talks to Ethiopia Observer about her enduring love affair with couture.
Enku runs and owns an Addis Ababa-based company, Enku Design. She designs and produces Ethiopian traditional fabric, women’s wear line. Her design integrates Ethiopian themes and motifs with modern style and blends local focus on luxuriant fabric.
Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Enku started her schooling at Bole Community School and completed high school at Tikur Anbessa Secondary School. Her artistic spirit showed from a very young age, when she spent hours sewing dolls and uniforms. After taking marketing courses at the Ethiopian Airlines and designing courses at Next Designs College, she joined the world of modelling. “In fact, I first did modelling when I was a grade twelve student at Tikur Anbessa,” she says.
In 2001, she enrolled for a local modelling agency, owned by an Italian lady, Nathalina who also used to have a glossy magazine called New Faces. Under Nathalina’s sympathetic and rigorous guidance, she has prospered, gracing magazine covers in different stylish dresses. In 2004, Enku was one of the ten Ethiopian models who went to France to showcase Guenet Fresenbet (Gigi)’s collection at St. Etienne Bazaar at three shows during a ten-day stay. “This opened my eyes even more to the world of fashion,” she says.
Enku design was launched four years ago and the elegant and charming shop located in Berhane Adere Building at Bole Medhani Alem area is drawing a large number of loyal clienteles. “My first shop was at Haya Hulet area. The line was selling well, I wanted a more suitable and spacious location,” the designer explains.
At the present shop, she produces a large collection of separates, everyday wear and the special occasion wear. Her clothes are more than just pretty: they are moulded to a woman’s body, travelling along curves, embracing the softness of a neckline in figure-flattering cuts. Her dress have been worn by local celebrities such as Ruta Mengistab, SelamTesfaye, Hanan Tarik, Etsehiwot Abebe, Birtukan Befekadu, Nebiyat Mekonen.
Enku is proud that her business is providing employment and training for young girls. There are about fifteen persons working in her shop and twenty traditional weavers who do the weaving exclusively for her shop with her own design.
As part of the creative process, Enku enjoys different fabrics and threads and taking the time required to achieve a product of quality. She is preparing to organize a colourful fashion show on September here in Addis Ababa.
To my question what makes her collection stand out from the crowd, she responds that lot of her collections are based around the body, and architecture. “There are strong lines and silhouettes. I also incorporate a lot of fringing into my work. It just moves so beautifully,” she says.
Asked who her favourite designer is, Enku says she has a lot of respect and admiration for the Lebanese designer, Elie Saab.
Enku says the business is expanding and doing well in Ethiopia. “We would have our store in Washington D.C in three or four months’ time,” she says. With her husband, Yared Tesfaye, they have already a store in Bole area Robel Plaza and another one in Dubai, called Platinum Couture.
Watch out for the unstoppable rise of Enku Design.

Arefayné Fantahun
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