The most inspiring people I know and admire are those who have followed their hearts and passions and no matter what life throws at them – they end up living their passion. Kabira Allain is one such inspiration. She worked in financial services for many years before doing a distance learning course in fashion, then onto London for more training and then went on to found her label KYMAÏA in 2014.
I loved her pieces in the Council of Irish Fashion Designers (CIFD) was going to live-stream their AW16 Presentation – they draw me to them especially her pieces which feature a cape! The elegance, versatility and beauty of pieces really make them stand out amongst the crowd. I am delighted to be featuring her today on Floralesque.
Have you always had an interest in fashion and design?
As far as I can remember I always had an interest in fashion. I use to spend so much time drawing, sketching. I just loved it. In terms of style, I was always looking for the unique touch the special detail in a garment.
Your career path has been very interesting. Can you please tell us about your path into fashion design?
I definitely didn’t follow the natural path to fashion. When I was younger I had a choice either to follow art and fashion studies or follow a more general economic path. I decided to go for the more general path and graduated with a Master’s degree in business studies.
I moved from France to Ireland and worked 14 years in financial services.
I spent a good portion of those 14 years working part-time to look after my two children, but when they started school I just decided to use some of my free time to study fashion. I studied via a French college specialised on distance learning – it was my only option to complete a full-time course – and after four years I got my degree in fashion. I also completed some more specialised courses in the London College of fashion.
Where does the inspirations for your designs come from?
I love classical silhouettes but I also love to incorporate some architectural elements into my designs. Therefore you will often find some structured shapes details in my garments.
Can you tell us about your AW16 collection?
KYMAÏA AW2016 is called “béatitude intrépide” – “dauntless bliss”. It’s edgy, it makes you feel comfortable and ready for the winter. It is aimed at these confident women who wants a classical but interesting piece. It includes some exaggerated shapes, singular details and unique fabric. It incorporates a variety of luxurious wool fabric, beautiful prints and winters colour.
What was the most challenging part of setting up your business?
Apart from the operational challenges that all the designers face, I would say that it’s the isolation. I worked 14 years in the company that had around 300 employees and when I started my fashion career, I missed the interaction with people and I still miss it.
Your brand has gained some fantastic momentum since it’s creation in 2014. Although I am sure hard to choose, what has been your proudest moment to date?
I would say that it was the first time I received an email from a customer to tell me how happy she was with her purchase, the number of compliments she got and that she loved her new KYMAÏA garment. It was just lovely to receive such a nice feedback just a few days after launching my first collection. That was definitely an emotional and proud moment.
Who are your favourite designers of the moment?
I probably have a soft eye on Chloe lately. I like the softness of the fabrics, the prints, the silhouettes…
Do you have any advice for those thinking of entering a career in design?
I would tell to anybody starting a career in fashion design to get as Such work experience as possible. Fashion is a very challenging path and they need to understand the business requirements before starting. Work experience can be a good opportunity to build a network as well.
So what does the future hold for Kymaïa?
I will have a very exciting couple of months. I will put more focus on my online shop but I have also decided to participate to the upcoming National Craft Fair in the RDS from November 30th to December 4th. I will be in stand 100 and will present a beautiful cape collection specially designed for the festive season. I think I will really enjoy the interaction with customers. I don’t get that many opportunities to talk to them directly so I’m very excited about it.
A massive thank you to Kabira for doing the interview – I am going to the National Craft Fair myself so I am looking forward to seeing her pieces. Her work is just beautiful and I am so honoured to be featuring her on Floralesque. I would highly recommend checking out her website and Facebook. And I have to say that her Instagram is one of my favourites to check in on as it often shows the behind the scenes which I enjoy. Kabira is certainly one designer that is going from strenght to strenght.
All images kindly provided for use by Kabira.