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Kenyan designer fighting for equality in fashion

Eva Rogo-Levenez in Paris in March 2019. RFI/Rosie Collyer

It's never too late to reinvent yourself. Eva Rogo-Levenez is on her third career path. Last week she had her first ever show at Paris Fashion Week, ready-to-wear autumn/winter 2019-2020.

Eva Rogo-Levenez came to France from Kenya thirty years ago to explore her love of the French language. Within a few years she got work as an author and translator of children books for the London-based publisher Heinemann.

In recent years she has turned her hand to fashion design. But it is not a completely new field to Rogo-Levenez who comes from a family of esteemed tailors.

"My grandfather was a great tailor and although I never met him, my mother took over from him. She was a perfectionist. I began pedalling her machine at a young age," recounts Rogo-Levenez.

Her autumn/winter collection is inspired by her native Kenya and has strong influences from the Kanga, Masai and Kikoyi ethnic groups.



"The theme of my collection is safari around Kenya... I didn't want to borrow anything from anywhere else," explains Rogo-Levenez.

Diversity on the catwalk

Kenyan models are few and far between in Paris and there have been numerous scandals around racism in the fashion industry in France.

Eva Rogo-Levenez has a selection of Paris-based models who are from a variety ethnic backgrounds.

"We've always tried to make sure that there's a black, an Arab, an Asian face or there's a white face because for me that is France," says Rogo-Levenez.