More than just a rising design star but a vibrant personality and full of ambition is Beatrice Korlekie Newman, whose label Korlekie is making a chic splash in the fashion world since it’s launch in 2012. Beatrice’s designs delve into a fantastical fashion fantasy with luxurious materials, intricate details that make her designs opulent and unique. With a recent presentation during the craziness of London Fashion Week, the young budding designer showcased her Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. Miss Newman manages to keep cool while celebrities like Rita Ora flaunt her pieces on red carpets and when winning Fashion Finest’s Emerging Designer of the Year (2013), the DI form decided to quickly sneak a interview with her before she was whisked away into another fashion frenzy.
You just finished a presentation, how was it?
BKN: It was great. There is something about a presentation that I find a lot more fulfilling than a catwalk. I think it allows my audience to engage and appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that goes into every piece in my collection. Working very hard for 5/6months deserves, I think, a little more attention… though taking a bow at the end of a catwalk to a rapture of applause is quite appealing.
How did you create the label Korlekie?
BKN: I’ve always been interested in art and design and the path I took led me towards fashion. I am always striving to be the best at what I do so it made sense to me to start up my own label and challenge myself. After my BA I started my label as Beatrice K Newman (BKN) but decided to cut this short and use a more unusual name that I felt would encapsulate my brand and make me more unique. I thus chose the name Korlekie, which is my middle name, because it was unheard of and different. The name derives from my father’s tribe, the Ga-Adangbe, in Eastern region Ghana. In short KORLEKIE means- Queen of Eagles | First born of Eagles. KORLE means Eagle and KIE means-Firstborn King/Queen depending on whether the child born is a boy or girl.
Most pressured moment as a designer?
BKN: My most pressured moment as a designer…- Producing a collection on time that is sellable, wearable and attractive, and is marketed very well with a good model, is eye catching and is of good quality. Simple as this sounds it is so easy to get wrong. Without a good team to support you and understand your vision and each collection’s story everything can go so wrong. A bad lookbook layout, a bad photographer and even the wrong proportioned model can be a turn off for industry and makes 6 months worth of good work look like a pile of crap.
Behind the scenes on Korlekie photoshoot
Beatrice Korlekie Newman smiling whilst working on her designs
Describe your perfect day
BKN: My perfect day – Sewing machines working without any hitches and my ‘to do list’ always ticked and finished. To end the day, work would have gone so smoothly that I’d have plenty of time for a hot cocoa and a nice movie… perfect! Sadly I don’t get many of these so called “perfect” days and 4 am is hardly the time to snuggle down to a movie.
What goes into designing an exclusive Korlekie garment?
BKN: Thought, a lot of it. The design has to be unique and suit the wearer but most of all the woman wearing it has to feel comfortable. An amazing design can look terrible and awkward on a woman who cannot carry herself and looks uncomfortable so it is important to me that this informs part of my design. Also I’m about the OOO & AHH moment, its quite automatic for most clients to make a sound or comment of appreciation when they open one of my parcels and it’s enough to tell me if I’ve done a good job or if I haven’t quite hit the spot.
A lot of sampling and experimentation takes place in the studio to find the right technique. My inspirations are mainly from textiles and the many images of Harry Clarke and the Tsars amongst others that I’ve collected over time.
How does your own personality & style fit within your label?
BKN: I’m quite nice and open and show a lot of emotion in everything I do. I don’t get to dress up much as my lifestyle is rather hectic so comfort is the order of the day for me but in truth I’m still trying to find and understand “my” style. I think in essence my label Korlekie is who I am unconsciously. It is powerful and assertive, commands respect but is still very womanly and sensual. Much like the characteristics of an Eagle and Queen, Korlekie is what I aim to be and hope to blossom into one day, kind of like the ugly duckling into a swan.
Korlekie has been worn by Rita Ora, Ellie Goulding & Paloma Faith to name a few, do you ever get star struck dressing all these stars?
BKN: Star struck? … Doesn’t everybody?? (Laughs) I mostly deal with stylists so in the few cases that I’ve met some of the big names I find inspiring I manage to keep the majority of my excitement well tamed and under control.
Where can we find and buy your designs?
BKN: Korlekie will be stocked in boutiques soon. Whilst preparations are underway we are taking made to order and private commission requests via our email address- firstname.lastname@example.org. To sign up for our updates please email- email@example.com
There is no stopping this Afro-British designer whose garments not only have been worn by some of the elite featured in Vogue.com, Elle and Dazed Digital just to name a few. It is evident in her pieces the African influence of lace and embroidery, which has become part of her design signatures of heavy embellishments, beading and exceedingly gorgeous beadwork. With four fashion awards under her belt and more collections on the way.