This is MFSL’s first ‘Designer To Watch’ feature: every morning I have a ritual where I peruse the Net to see what is new and emerging in the fashion industry, and I often pay extra attention to fashion that is African or African-inspired.

As soon as I saw the debut Spring 2012 collection of New Jersey designer, Uchea Nwabuzor who designs under the label, Ana Kata (derived from a technical physics term, ‘denoting the names of the directions in the fourth dimension‘), I already began to form a blog article in my head.  Nwabuzor describes her designs as, ‘an avant-garde clothing line inspired by cultural exploration, grounded in African culture, and filtered through personal experience,’  She goes on to state that, ‘Ana Kata looks to simultaneously honor the past while trailblazing the future.’

Her debut collection which is made up of printed and monochrome tailored pieces  feature exquisite detailing like floor-grazing, red-carpet friendly low-back gowns, draped cocktail dresses with dramatic, wing-like sleeves and tailored bell-bottom trousers.

The collection is said to be inspired from Nwabuzor’s desire to fuse both traditional African and Parisian elements to create a collection that is essentially conscious of both the past, present and what the future could be.

It is no wonder that although Nwabuzor is relatively new to the scene, she has already been featured in impressive titles like Nylon, NBC NY, V, Elle and Surface.

Furthermore, I love a good story behind an emerging designer and I was very interested to learn that Nwabuzor knew she wanted to be a fashion designer from the tender age of seven, when she found out that a fellow classmate had been offered $5 a sketch from a designer.  The very fact that one could earn money from sketching clothes had such a strong impact on the young Nwabuzor, that she informed her mother that very day about her desire to become a fashion designer.  Also coming from an African background, where it is more often the norm for your parents to have a minor heart attack with such a vocation announcement- I was pleased to learn Nwabuzor’s mother supported her right then and there.

What I particularly love about the pieces from the Ana Kata debut collection is the fact that there is a seamless flow and symmetry that flows with each piece of the collection binding them together to form a coherent collection– a feat not easily achievable with a lot of collections that borrow from African and International influences.

On a personal note, I am also enamoured of collections that brings the drama but that are still wearable, here are some of the RTW pieces I would love in my wardrobe-

My back is my ‘Go To’ erogenous zone, so this printed, draped blouse will do nicely-

I want to wear this backless gown to my next black tie event, oh who am I kidding- I want to wear it on my next date!-

As you all know, I am big vintage fan, so I adore the feminine and playful silhouette of this prom skirt

Presently Ana Kata pieces are available exclusively on a made-to-order basis, and fans will be interested to know that an Ana Kata online shop will be set up this Fall which will stock her signature printed scarves as well as ready-to-wear and jewelry pieces.

To see more designs from the Ana Kata debut collection (and you do!), visit www.anakatany.com

All images credited to Anakatany.com