The Kenyan Community Behind DVF’s “Must-Have” Necklaces

Jenni Avins

Diane von Furstenberg took the stage Friday at the Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit to discuss “Making a Must Have Market” – something the inventor of the ubiquitous wrap-dress knows a thing or two about. Alongside her was Rebecca Lolosoli, whose Kenyan beadwork von Furstenberg touched with her magic “must have” wand when she integrated it into her Spring 2010 collection. Now, the real trick will be sustaining the interest.

“The last thing you want to do,” said von Furstenberg, “is build people’s expectations, and then abandon them, like a soufflé.”

Lolosoli, who wore layers and layers of round beaded collars, and a cobalt skirt that sparkled with metal paillettes around its hem, hardly seems like the sort of woman who would fall like a soufflé. More than fifteen years ago, she established Umoja, an all-female village in Kenya, as a haven for rape victims abandoned by their husbands. Today, the village has its own school and cultural center, supported in part by selling the vibrant beadwork like the necklace pictured here.

Even Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the jewelry “fabulous” later that evening at the United Nations, where she accepted an award from von Furstenberg.The Secretary of State didn’t reference the way necklaces like the one pictured here could perfectly anchor a diaphanous dress or add that all-important pop of color, but rather, that they had helped the women of Umoja survive a drought. We hope that with fashion’s growing appreciation for African textiles - and a good back-story - more high-end designers and buyers will soon be visiting Umoja Village.

Contact Us