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 to transform the Ghanaian Fashion Industry. Ghana has so much opportunity for growth in the 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 stylish, 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 is a designer I stumbled on recently when I was given the opportunity to be a panellist on a fashion tv red carpet event. Our very own Stephanie Benson 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 the 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, Broadway. 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 Harrison (Vh-Mode) will be playing a vital role in the history of our country’s Fashion Industry
KOFI LAING is Fashion Entrepreneur and the Radio and Television personality at the Multimedia Group (Joy 99.7 FM AND Joy Prime TV)