Wambui Mukenyi’s wedding designs have caused a stir, especially when dressing the modern woman who prefers black or red, strapless, daring necklines, complemented by detailed bodice.
“I have done quite a number of weddings where the bride wanted a different colour from the traditional white, cream or ivory. There is actually one bride who wore a black ball gown to her wedding. Black and turquoise have always been my most outstanding dresses. You can imagine walking into the church or in a garden wedding with those colours,” she says.
However, there are still brides stuck with more traditional colours for fear of being judged when wearing anything other than white.
“A wedding is your big day and I think every bride should go for what they want. If purple is your favourite colour, then go for it and get a designer who will be able to work with you in creating a masterpiece, and should not be limited to what people prefer,” says the designer who has carved a niche in the Kenyan fashion industry and defied conventional etiquette of all-covered up and all white at a wedding.
For example, one of the gowns from her Wambui Mukenyi Luxe Collection has a tulle design at the bottom with a bit of lace in the inside that goes all the way to the top, showing off the midriff and the back is completely bare.
“That dress is for a pretty daring bride who knows that when she wears it, no parent will come and start covering her with a leso (sarong),” she says.
Another dress has sequined corset with ruffles on the lower side giving it the wow factor. Or a bride can also opt for a simple off-shoulder gown which is perfect for a beach wedding.
With nine years experience in designing wedding gowns, Ms Mukenyi has learnt to be patient especially with brides who do not know what they really want and have some insecurities about their body shapes.
“I usually hear people say that when you are petite you should not wear a mermaid dress or when you are really curvy you should not wear a ball gown. But I have seen full-figured brides who look perfect in ball gowns,” she says.
She adds: “What I like to work with is the bride’s upper body. Because, for example, for a woman who has a large bust, it won’t be advisable to wear a bustier gown, she will end up feeling uncomfortable and keep pulling it up.”
Most brides are also cautious of their waistlines and always want designs that shift focus away from the midriff.
Since she started her fashion career, she has been focusing on the bride-on-a budget, but her new collection is more luxurious targeted as high-spenders.
“The most expensive dress costs Sh280,000...apart from the unique material used, it has several details that were hand stitched,” she says.
Some people might call her a connoisseur of wedding gowns but if she was to get married today which designer would she wear?
“Of course I will choose Wambui Mukenyi but if I had to think of someone else to work on my dress that would be American designer Vera Wang. I like that she has very simple cuts that makes a gown look elegant. And of course Lazaro,” she says.
Her advice for brides-to-be is not to come with a large group of people during the first dress-searching consultation.
‘‘Everyone will give you their own ideas of what your dress should look like and you will end up getting lost in other people’s dreams or fantasies. If you decide to drag along a group of people, then be ready to get opinions of how your dress should look like or not.”