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UK designer with roots in Kenya

Using mostly hand-dyed or digitally printed silk, her prints are inspired by light refraction and feature clean geometric lines. PHOTOS | COURTESY
Using mostly hand-dyed or digitally printed silk, her prints are inspired by light refraction and feature clean geometric lines. PHOTOS | COURTESY 

At Republi.ke, a shop in Garden City Mall and in Valley Arcade, Nairobi, London-based designer Para Manko’s clothes hang on the racks.

The designer who was born and raised in UK to a Kenyan father and Indian mother, said most of her clothes are inspired by contemporary art and travel.

‘‘My collections portray a modern futuristic take on romance, the feeling of light and refraction through photography, cubist painters and sculptors,’’ Para said. Travelling, she said, has inspired her to broaden her outlook on way of life as well as creativity.

She set up her fashion house, Silence Beyond Syllables, after working with the likes of Jonathan Saunders, a designer known for his work with prints and traditional silk screening techniques and who has dressed Michelle Obama.

Para opened the fashion house seven years ago after graduating from the London College of Fashion.

She has worked with big names in the fashion industry including Asos, Markus Lupfer, a regular at London Fashion Week and who also picked her as one of his top 10 designers in the magazine when she released her first collection and started picking up stockists. 

“I always knew that I wanted to get into design from a very young age. I do around two main collections a year, always adding as these days fashion is so fast and it’s nice to have an evolving body of work,” she said.

Para is currently working on a new collection and planning on putting up more pop-ups and selling around the globe.

Using mostly hand-dyed or digitally printed silk, her prints are inspired by light refraction and feature clean geometric lines.

The name Silence Beyond Syllables is derived from her love for meditation, her work and creativity being an outcome of the alchemy of that.

‘‘What I produce is often born out of the silence that prevails after sitting in meditation,’’ she said.

She works a lot with silks and pure cottons sourced from around the world. These are usually mixed with other types of fabrics to create more durable wear.

She designs the prints by herself and have them printed with special fabric dyes onto pure materials such as silk satins and crepes.

‘‘They have been combined with the dip dyed silks which consist of an arduous process carried out by hand,” the designer said.

Although she is currently based in the UK, her designs are found locally in two shop and online through Silkfred that ships to whichever location.

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