The Magazine of Ethiopian Airlines
Style + Substance

Luxurious, Ethical, African

Adèle Dejak charms with her high-end, ethically crafted creations.

Nairobi-based fashion designer Adèle Dejak has long drawn inspiration from the abstract art found in nature. Take, for example, her stunning line of bags made from Malian mud cloth — a cotton fabric dyed with fermented mud, which is applied in various patterns by hand. 

Dejak purchases high-quality mud cloth for her weekend bags and clutches from Boubacar Doumbia’s textile workshop, Le Ndomo, which sources almost all of its cotton from organic sources and employs young people who would otherwise face limited job opportunities in Mali.

COURTESY OF ADÈLE DEJAK

Indeed, hiring independent African artisans to create luxury jewelry, fashion accessories, shoes and even one-of-a-kind home goods using sustainably sourced materials from around Africa is at the heart of Dejak’s vision. She works with raw leather and hide, which are increasingly abundant in countries like Ethiopia and Kenya; her line includes bags made with hand-woven raffia from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and her jewelry incorporates everything from recycled brass and aluminum to Ankole cow horn from Uganda, the latter being a byproduct of the beef industry.

COURTESY OF ADÈLE DEJAK

Trained as a typographer, Dejak says her earliest influence was her very stylish mother. Later, when Dejak could not find jewelry reflecting her own tastes, she began to design and create a few pieces for herself. These drew praise and attention and eventually led her to leave her career as an art director with an Italian music publication and open her own shop in 2005.

COURTESY OF ADÈLE DEJAK

In 2012, the Nigerian-born self-taught designer was invited to collaborate with Salvatore Ferragamo’s creative director Massimiliano Giornetti on six limited-edition bags as part of Bags for Africa, a charitable effort that raises funds in support of women’s rights and the promotion of local communities in Sierra Leone. 

The uncompromising sense of style and hard work that led to that impressive partnership is the same one captivating women around the world today. “I am,” she explained in 2015, “on a never-ending quest for an essential artifact to enhance the personality of the woman who wears it.”

Dejak is also truly wed to creating her work with materials found in Africa, with is “diversity, rich culture and amazing history.” Speaking of her Almaz collection, she said, “The name ‘Almaz’ is derived from the Amharic name meaning diamonds, which is symbolic to the continent because the African beauty grows stronger under pressure.” 

See the full Adèle Dejak line at adeledejak.com.