August 18, 2022

Lorraine Mugariri: Maison du Style

FUN FACT: Maison Du Style is pronounced (May-zohn Do Steel) From the moment I walked in to her boho-chic inspired store, I was sold!

Bold 25-year-old Lorraine has the sort of composure and inner beauty that glows and commands a room unashamedly and as we spoke about all things fashion, music and meditation related, I couldn’t help but be infected by her refreshing energy, which definitely has an unmistakeable presence in her clothing! To find out more about Lorraine, read her interview below.

When did you start designing?
I started designing as a child, but at the time, I had no idea what it was I was actually doing. My interest in fashion also stemmed from my mom as she used to custom make most of the clothes that my sister and I wore, so I’d say I started designing when I was 9 years old. I began to take it seriously when I was in high school and I made my own dance dress as well as dresses for other people.

Did you go to fashion school?
I actually studied marketing in school so everything I know about fashion is self-taught. I’ve had opportunities to go to fashion school but I believe in keeping the design process and my take on fashion as authentic and as raw as possible. I might end up enrolling in the future but I don’t believe fashion can be taught; to me, it’s something you naturally have a passion for.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
That’s a tough question but I’d say “diversity.” My style has really evolved over the years and there are things I’ve designed before that I say to myself, “Lowie, you probably wouldn’t wear that.” For instance, my Peekaboo Lace collection was so different to what I’ve designed before; it was actually shocking for my clientele and me! In as much as I have a diverse aesthetic, there are certain things that you’ll know are definitely not one of my pieces.

I am interested in how your Peekaboo Lace collection was received considering how conservative our society is?
When that collection came out, I was really showcasing the creative side of me. Most of the pieces weren’t ready to wear items; they were actually haute couture. You’ll be surprised to know that I have sold out all the pieces from the collection and I’ve ended up selling the sample runway pieces. I only have four left, so Zimbabweans are definitely more confident in how they dress themselves and put pieces together than we realise.

What’s the one constant source of inspiration that influences every single one of your collections?
I’d say every single emotion I go through inspires the designs I put out. One thing that grounds me in terms of putting out my work is the ocean. Whenever I am around an ocean, I see better in terms of the designs I want to put out and I feel like I’m more myself in that space.

How do you market your work?
Honestly, I’ve had such an amazing support structure. I put out my first collection when I was 16 and I remember the show was at Celebration Centre, but my actual launch happened years later at Sky Bar where I reached out to people with a following and I even made it to the papers. Now it’s a lot easier to get your work out because of social media and it definitely makes marketing more manageable. I’ve never really done brochures and things like that but I think word of mouth and social media go a long way.

I’ve noticed Marilyn Monroe has a heavy presence in your store; tell me how she influences your work?
Marilyn! I’m so intrigued by people who are misunderstood. Mostly though, I’m drawn to her personality and style. I love the way she carried herself and made curves a thing in the 1920s. She wore such timeless pieces and I want to have the same type of impact she had with her clothes back then and to this day.

What are you inspired or fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
Affirmations…It’s so strange but I have them everywhere and I say my affirmations every day. I say things like, “Don’t stop dreaming,” “Practice kindness,” and the most powerful one is, “You are your thoughts.” You become what you think and I think we take that for granted. As I said, I have these things everywhere, even in my car. My son wakes up in the morning and reads out loud, “Be happy,” and he says to me, “Mom I don’t know why I’m so happy,” but he doesn’t get that by saying these things you are literally re-programming your brain. My affirmations have motivated me not just in my work but also with how I relate to people in society. I take ten minutes out every morning to remind myself of why I am here, who I am and then I go on with my day filled with positive thoughts.

What quote do you live by?
“If you can dream it, you can become it”…that’s why we are told to never stop dreaming.

Tell me about your 2017 spring/summer collection?
Well, it’s all about stripes. I took it back to my roots and how I grew up. I’m a farm girl by the way, so the collection spoke to what I would wear if I had to go to the farm and still look fashionable. It’s my most comfortable collection thus far and it came naturally to me to the point where I didn’t even have to sketch; I just looked at fabric, saw stripes and decided that this was it. Funny enough, what is trending right now is stripes and I can easily wear my collection pieces to the farm and I’d still look like I belong.

What advice would you give to young girls starting out in fashion?
I think everyone is very different. Stick to what you know and who you are. Don’t follow trends unless you’re the one setting them. We are all unique so you really can’t be a successful designer if you’re making what Coco Chanel or Vivienne Westwood are making so, BE AUTHENTIC!

When asked what 5 things she would take if she were stuck on a desert for a week, Lorraine said she wouldn’t take her phone and I had to ask why?
You won’t believe it but when I’m in a space, I live in the very moment and I believe phones disconnect us from being in the moment. I haven’t heard of any good story that involves a phone. The moment you’re on your phone, you’re in a different time and space so, no phone for me as long as I’m going to be found!

For more on Lorraine and her designs, follow her page on Instagram @maisondustylezw

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+263 784 596 239 • Shop 7A Shamwari Gallery, Belgravia, Harare

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