Tell me a little about yourself and your brand.
My name is Darcie. I am the founder, owner and head designer of the Jenolo Star brand. We started our brand in 2017 out of The Netherlands. The first few years were quite difficult as it was not easy to find the right people to work with. My designs are quite technical and so I needed to recruit seamstresses that are very experienced which was not easy. Over the years I have been able to build a good team so I can focus on the designs now. We presented our first collection called Control (Fall and Winter 2020-21) during Paris Fashion Week in February 2020. We did a second collection called BodyTalk (Spring Summer 2021) last year in September but unfortunately were not able to present it much because of the COVID restrictions. This collection went on sale this past spring. Our third collection (Fall Winter 2021-22) is on sale now and is called Air Bon Chic Bon Genre and we have just presented our fourth collection The Light in September (Spring Summer 2022).
What is your first fashion memory?
When I was a child back in Africa, I saw my mother make embroided fabrics. She made them in different colors and different designs. At six, my mother bought sewing machines and started making shirts with African loincloth to match with western bags and shoes, together with two seamstresses that she hired. My aunt worked in a big clothes shop “Fatima” in Kinshasa which sold European and American clothes and which was very well known. She was a seamstress as well. Other uncles and aunts travelled between Europe and Kinshasa and always brought the latest clothes. We also had a lot of musicians that came by the house, like Werrason and others.They were like our big brothers. So I was always somehow connected to clothes and fashion. I was surrounded by people who always made a point of being perfectly dressed true to the spirit of the Congolese “sappologie”. Those experiences had a profound influence on me.
As a fashion designer, how would you define your role in society? How would you describe your brand aesthetics? What is the brand's mission?
The brand is really a vehicle to transform my ideas into tangible items that can move and surprise people. The values I live by are respect and honesty and in fashion for this means that I strive to create quality products that satisfy my customers that support my work. These values are really what Jenolo Star stands for. Fashion is not just about being a well known brand, it needs to represent a style. We also try to design items that you can wear not only now, but also in the future.
So what was on your moodboard this season? Can you tell us a little bit about the new collection?
The new collection is called “The Light”. Between heaven and earth, the light that enlightens us during the day as well as the night. My colors and fabrics are chosen in function of this theme and I will always look for that something more to add to this. I remember my grandma told me one day, after the darkness, follows the light at the end of the tunnel. This phrase I have always carried with me. Throughout this difficult COVID period I compelled myself to stay convincing and motivated and to continue to follow this desire and feeling to create. This tenacity to stay in the light is what the collection represents.I hope that you all like it as much as I do.
What was the best part of working on the collection?
It’s really the creative part that enjoy the most, drawing and working on the prototypes. The promotion and the whole business side is not really my cup of tea, but a necessary evil I guess.
What aspects of the fashion industry would you like to change?
The fashion industry tends to always flock around the same brands and names. It’s extremely difficult for new designers to make an entry. It seems to be all our nothing, either you are the most popular gig in town and everything becomes possible or all the doors remain closed. It would be good if there would be more space for new designers and new ideas.
Where are your products made and what steps are your brand making to ensure the process is as green as it can be? As you see it, what are the main sustainability issues in the fashion industry today and how does your brand subvert them?
It’s good to see that sustainability has become a mainstream value that almost everyone seems to embrace. We are trying to do our part in the selection of our materials and encouraging our customers to may be buy less, but better quality.
What are your future goals for your brand and fashion in its entirety?
In fashion you are always onto the next thing. We are currently preparing our Fall Winter 2022-23 collection which we will present in Paris in March. I can’t share much about this yet, but we are very excited about it.