For the last 3 years, I have canvassed Ghana on the fashion terrain to gain a good
understanding of our ethics, culture and heritage and how that is helping transform
the Ghanaian Fashion Industry. Ghana has so much opportunity for growth in
fashion which can only be beneficial to this country as a whole once this industry
becomes self-sufficient with adequate investment, Government participation and
teamwork within the stylist, bloggers, illustrators, designers and the like. The
pacesetters of Joyce Ababio, Kofi Ansah and Mawuli Okudzeto have all served
Ghana well in their various ways but the future of fashion transcends our borders
and the revenue stream will be substantial if we can all get behind it. So who are
our next flagbearers?
Vanessa Harrison @Vh Mode is a designer I stumbled on recently when I was given
the opportunity to be a panellist on a fashion tv red carpet event. A few of our
celebrities wore Vh_Mode to the recently completed Glitz style awards and her
outfit was very intriguing. Fluid symmetrical geometric designs achieved by precise
placement of colour through fabric.
I met Vanessa recently and in her own humble way she canvassed her journey to
me, painting me a picture of how her story has influenced her work.
Here is Vanessa!
‘The Aesthetic – Eclectic forms, Afro-ganic textures, Kaleidoscopic patterns,
Psychedelic palettes. The creator – a humble, mildly eccentric, Shatta Wale quoting,
Proudly Ga woman.
This somewhat unusual pairing has created some of the best designs in High-end
couture from the centre of planet earth to as far as Broadway, complimenting the
figures of Akosua Busia, Ama k. Abebrese, Michelle Mckinney Hammond, and giving
Vlisco a 170th to remember.
Born naturally bright, Vanessa Harrison began basic education at Christ the King,
studied visual arts at the Achimota school, then Ghanatta college of arts. She was
determined to become an illustrator for publishers as big as McMillan and left
Ghana for the UK. Finding no room for her in the illustration industry, she quickly
adapted her skills for fashion.
Vanessa wore clothes she had made in Ghana and turned heads. She showed
sketches around and hoped to sell in the Portobello market, but her designs were
to up-market. She was validated when Freedom Recruitment invited her to ghost
for a popular English designer. Her big break, however, came when a KENZO model
asked her to design a leather jumpsuit. In no time Vanessa was a couturier, styling
high-end clients and having babies.
Vanessa returned to Accra knowing she would have to make huge adjustments,
considering that her UK workforce consisted of professional Polish seamstresses
and her product aimed for the high-end market. “The kenkey is good and then
some, but we can’t sew”, Vanessa said as she described her shock at the state of the
industry. She soon discovered after an exhaustive search, the professional finish of
Ivorian tailors and built herself a team.
Vanessa’s designs are born from a deep appreciation for happiness, people, nature
and origami. VH Mode will open it’s doors to students soon as she plans to start a
Fashion School with a strict “no lies” curriculum. She already receives interns from
fashion schools like Radford and believes education to be a vital part of the growth
of the Ghanaian industry.
Vanessa cites the efforts of Mawuli MKOGH, Kofi Ansah and the greats for blazing
the trail. She seeks her legacy in the next generation’
I see a future shaped by many and strongly believe Vanessa Williams(Vh-Mode) will
be playing a vital role in the history of our country’s Fashion Industry.