In 2019, Yhebe Designs released a collection with an inspiring African theme. It was the brainchild of the talented Ivorian creative. Our designer spotlight is on Rebecca Zoro who showcased a collection that was a celebration of Gouro womanhood and their rich cultural heritage. African fashion is rapidly evolving, and this is how one of Africa’s emerging designers launched her career and journeyed to the top.
Rebecca Zoro Celebrates her Heritage
Zoro is from the Gouro tribe in Côte d’Ivoire. Also known as Kweni, this is a tribe that resides in the valley regions of the Bandama River. The Gouro people are deeply traditional and are known for their distinctive masks. The culturally significant masks are colorful and intricately carved. They are the product of the artistic Gouro tribesmen.
The Yhebe Designs Spring/Summer 2020 Collection
Rebecca Zoro presented a stunning collection that was a tribute to the Gouro women. The womenfolk of that region are famed for their agility and enterprising spirit. They are also industrious and do not shy away from physical activity.
Zoro’s collection reflects their spirit in the relaxed silhouette of her gowns. They are comfortable, flowing, and facilitate movement. The Gouro culture is also evident in the masks the models wore and the motifs on the fabric as seen in the creation below.
Rebecca Zoro Receives a Celebrity Endorsement
One of the biggest supporters of African fashion is Beyoncé Knowles. She frequently showcases these iconic designs in her music videos and public appearances. Rebecca Zoro was delighted when Beyoncé appeared at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa wearing a skirt from Yhebe Designs. The chic creation is a floaty, romantic number with an asymmetrical hemline, perfectly suited for a star with an edgy style.
Rebecca Zoro Journey to the Top
On September 28th, 2019, Zoro appeared on a BBC News Africa segment and narrated the story about her rise to the top. Zoro started out in the fashion business in 2015. She launched the business on her own. Also, the solitary piece of equipment she had was a sewing machine. The designer partly attributes her success to her cultural roots. As a Gouro woman, she has inherited their charisma and fighting spirit.
Also, she says that small beginnings meant that there was less at stake. When speaking to BBC, Zoro said that her goal is to highlight the beauty and cultural diversity of both Ivorian and African women as a whole. She envisions her brand growing and ultimately attaining international visibility.
The Birth of the Yhebe Design Clothing Brand
When Zoro was young, she knew that she had an affinity for fashion. Hence, as soon as she finished school, she embarked on design training at the Momo Che Couture in Abidjan. Thereafter she studied at the America Ladies’ Institute Beauty (ALBY) for 2 years. After serving an internship at designer Coura Diop’s Couture House, she completed her training at the ‘La Salle Maroc’ in Casablanca.
Zoro’s brand carries the name Yhebe. Her grandfather favored her with this affectionate name when she was a child. Accordingly, the brand promotes sensitivity, femininity, and romance. Zoro often incorporates tulle in her African wax print designs, giving them a vintage look. Her intention is to revolutionize African fashion through modern, elegant designs.
Sustainable African Fashion
Yhebe Design is featured on the ‘Ewadara’ platform. This is an online outlet that promotes brands that are committed to sustainability. For example, all products are made in Africa by Africans. They are crafted either from organic or recycled materials. In addition, they are an asset to the community as they promote job creation and foster women’s empowerment. The subscribing brands also add to the value chain by incorporating auxiliary activities such as shoemaking, knitting, and other crafts.
What Characterizes Yhebe Designs?
Yhebe designs are distinctive in their flawless elegance and femininity. Zoro derives her inspiration from the 1920s, an era of glamorous, youthful looks. Here are some of her best designs.
Rebecca Zoro’s 2020 Spring/Summer Collection
This royal blue creation’s noble simplicity is the perfect representation of the dignity with which the Gouro women carry themselves. It has a relaxed fit that is comfortable and yet feminine.
Another number from the collection that celebrated Gouro women, the hot pink fabric reflects a feminine core within. Despite their strength of character, they are still womanly at heart.
This piece is provocative and a sophisticated way to let the air in on a hot day. The yellow panels combined with black and white stripes are stunning. And above all, the matching top in wider stripes gives it just the right touch of harmony and style.
Another flattering look for the holiday season combines a floaty romantic chiffon top with edgy striped trousers. The overall effect is enticingly chic. Also, the lime green bandana adds just the right bold pop of color.
A timeless look for the hot weather, this fitted denim outfit has a single sleeve. The cool white piping and long flowing ribbon add a touch of fun to the design.
Contemporary Looks from Yhebe Design
Here is an example of the brilliant, youthful looks that appeal to the younger crowd. The relaxed-fit design end above the knees, and they are a mesmerizing mix of patchwork fabrics in bright, fresh, colors.
Another contemporary look that is charming and fresh is this organza Frou Frou dress in a tantalizing shade of tangerine. It is delicate, feminine, and perfect for hot African afternoons.
An evening suit with a difference, this rose pink creation has cut-out sleeves and an asymmetrical hemline with trailing ribbons. A daring cut in the skirt shows a glimpse of leg, and glittery, pale pink pumps add the perfect finishing touch to the outfit.
A monochrome creation never fails to add a touch of class to an event. For example, the above trouser suits have distinctive black and white African motifs combined with crisp white fabrics. The trouser legs have soft, pleated, graceful bottoms that gives it a unique touch.
This beautiful African traditional gown has dazzling Juliette sleeves and a fitted bodice crafted out of a contrasting fabric. The Ankara gown has an ‘A’ line skirt, with a cutout on the side.
Zoro’s accomplishments and rapid rise to fame are phenomenal. This talented young designer launched her fashion brand and within 2 years managed to catch the attention of a discerning celebrity. Interestingly, she accomplished this despite humble beginnings. As Israelmore Ayivor once said,
“Every big castle was once started with a single block; despise no small beginnings. A little step taken every day builds up the hope of greater accomplishments. Do something every day!”