Meet Lao, the young designer at the Coast

PINEHAS NAKAZIKO
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Ever since she was a young girl, Christ Laolange Shameulu, knew she wanted to make clothes. By then she was assisting her grandmother, who was a seamstress, with mending and sewing clothes.

“She is also my inspiration when it comes to clothing. Growing up with my grandmother I always helped her with hand stitching while she was working on a sewing machine,” says Laolange, who is popularly known as Lao.

Today the 21-year-old is a designer with her own fashion brand – albeit unknown as yet by many – Lao Glam. Lao held her first fashion show in early December at Swakopmund.

“I held this fashion show to build my name and also to give other designers a platform to shine,” says Lao who vividly recalls her passion for designing when she was only 10 years old.

She would go on to study clothing production at the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology in Arandis. Today, even though she commenced her studies in 2013, she counts some of the prominent residents of Swakopmund among her loyal clients.

According to Lao, designers such as Wilma Kawedi, Jennifer Madawa Uises and Tina Ngashikwaoo, all from Windhoek took part in her glittery fashion show held at the beginning of this month.

Her show also gave opportunity to fashion students from NIMT and the Community Skills Development Foundation to present their creations.

Lao says her collections are inspired by the ‘glitz and the glamour’ of red carpet moments that are often so well publicised by the media. “My collection included jumpsuits, short dresses and evening gowns all in maroon colour only,” says Lao of her collection she presented at the fashion show.

Lao was born in Oshakati by, and this is how she described her parents, “the beautiful woman known as Esther Ishiwa Haikola, who is based in Swakopmund and father Ileni Shameulu from Otjiwarongo.”
“I took part in many fashion shows like Africa’s Finest Culture and Fashion show, Tai Exclusive Fashion Show and Young Designers Fashion Shows,” she says.

In her latest collection Lao has used maroon stretchy material and gold beads only, although it is usually African materials that have much influence on her designs.

“I decided to go glamorous. My designs should always be of good quality standards and complementary to the wearer,” she explained.

Lao dismisses criticism over her swimwear designs, which some find a tad revealing, saying “that’s work.” She explains that some of the swimwear designs are to be accompanied by a wrap or a sweater to cover up the revealing part.

She nevertheless says her first fashion show has showed her that it is no easy work staging a fashion show. Yet she is proud that she was able to do just that, more so because it gave her an opportunity to publicise her work, appearing on NBC TV’s Good Morning Namibia and Tutaleni programmes, as well as featuring in newspapers.

“Well I’ve accomplished all my 2016 missions. I am looking forward to Lao Winter Fashion Show early next year that will be memorable,” she says.

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