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Tropic Thunder

Eva Kelly | August 27, 2018 | Feature Features

A local fashion designer releases a new capsule collection, drawing inspiration from both her past and her present, as well as from Houston's diverse multicultural fabric.
Looks from Kristiane Charrier's summer 2018 capsule collection, available online and at various pop-up shops.

Kristiane Charrier’s love for color couldn’t be stronger. One look at the Houston-based fashion designer’s latest capsule collection, released this summer, and one is transported to a tropical paradise awash in vibrant pinks, reds and purples. Charrier’s love for the bright and bold comes not only from her homeland, the Central African country of Cameroon, but also from the years she spent living in Carnival-crazed Brazil. As Houston’s diverse food scene explodes, the stunning designer and business woman proves that the city’s stylemakers are equally worth attention and are also drawing on H-Town’s multiculturalism and entrepreneurial spirit.

After moving from Africa to Brazil for her French husband’s career in 2011, Charrier struggled to adjust to a new continent and culture. “I was a wife following my husband in his life. At first I thought it would be something fun, and of course it was, but I quickly started feeling useless without a project of my own.” The mother of two decided to turn her frustration into creative energy and started taking pattern-design classes. Not long after, she launched clothing brand KAECI Concept, whose muse is the international woman—well-traveled, adaptable and eager to embrace diversity. The name, a play on her intials and two Indonesian words, aneka (diversity) and cinta (love), stands at the center of both the project’s mission and its global aesthetic.

The latest collection, available online and in select pop-ups, features four anchor pieces, the most popular of which is a flowy wrap dress that can be worn short, long or just as a skirt. Another staple is a reversible vest that can go with pants or be tied with a belt to form a slinky number perfect for cocktails or a night out. All of the items are brightly colored and feature unique patterns hand-drawn by Charrier and then carefully colored in using Copic Sketch markers, traditionally used for Japanese comic books. It’s a clever twist on traditional fabric printing, and yet another fold in the cross-cultural fabric of the brand.

Charrier limits herself to two capsule releases each year, one for summer and one for winter, a symbolic bucking of the traditional fashion market cycle. The eco-conscious brand also focuses heavily on sustainability and has a charitable arm, Wings of KAECI, which helps fund schooling for disadvantaged children back in her home country.

Although it’s still sweltering here, Charrier’s already preparing her next line for release this winter, and it’s her first to include outerwear. She may be a child of the tropics, but this jet-setter is ready come sun, rain or snow.


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