Denim, Africa and talent, the three components that make up Studio Africa, the platform lifting DIESEL+EDUN above the fashion page and beyond; the latter of course is the pairing of Renzo Rosso's Italian brand and Bono and his wife Ali Hewson’s eco friendly label.
Made in Africa using Ugandan CCI cotton and modeled by a group of contemporary creatives from the continent, the range houses 25 pieces, many in raw untreated denim. Starting with a style formerly popular in 1970’s South Africa-the four-pocket jean-the collection also features dresses using Kenyan metalwork and Malian inspired printed jersey.
The collection’s campaign and the Studio Africa concept-spearheaded around the globe by music events in Berlin, LA, London, Paris and Tokyo-is modelled by a ‘cast’ of nine, among them Flaviana Matata. A model whose career started with her role in Miss Universe 2007, she was the contest’s first Tanzanian entrant and the first to compete with a shaved head. Coming in 6th place, the 24 year old has gone on to work with McQueen, Westwood and Hilfiger, as well as setting up her own foundation which aims to get girls from sub-Saharan Africa into education.
We stole some time to ask Flaviana all about the above, and some.
How did you find the Miss Universe experience?
Miss Universe was my first international exposure to the fashion and beauty industry and it was a wonderful experience. I was not totally prepared for the media attention and fans, but one can never be fully prepared for such things. The other girls were also very nice and I made lots of friends. I was extremely pleased that I could make my country proud as it was the first time ever that Tanzania took part in the pageant and I made it to the semifinals.
And what do you enjoy most about modelling today?
I enjoy the fact that I can always do something different. It is a tough job that demands a lot mentally and physically, but it also is very rewarding because it gives you a wide range of activities, whether it is a photo session, walking the ramp, or TV commercial. And then you can be asked to be anyone for a short while…
Do you have a preference for walking in shows or doing photoshoots?
I think that each has its own charm and it is difficult to pick one over the other. Photoshoots take long and need much more preparation than shows yet there is so much do you can get to do as a model. However shows have their own charm and excitement and it definitely can give a much needed adrenaline rush not to speak about the lights, the glamour, and immediate reaction you get from audience.
Tell us about your foundation. What does it mean to you? And what does it mean to those it helps?
I started my foundation as part of my effort to give back to my society and in memory of my loving mother who lost her life in a tragic boat accident on Lake Victoria. I wanted to give back and help young girls in their education as I am aware that education makes a huge difference in the lives of people in Africa as it opens up a world of opportunity. Currently I have 16 young girls in school but I am looking forward to extending my activities further.
Which figures-contemporary or past-do you most admire and why?
I admire mostly people who are able to recognise that any popularity or fame comes with the responsibility to give back. For that reason I admire greatly people like Oprah, Bono, Russell Simmons. I admire that they realise that the fact that they are more fortunate than others is not a privilege they deserve but it is an opportunity to make things better for others.
How did your involvement with Studio Africa come about?
I was approached to join this amazing group individuals made up of artists, actors, designers, writers, photographers by my London agency NEXT MODEL MANAGEMENT. I was extremely happy to have been a part of this collective
Were you aware of the rest of the Studio Africa cast before you started the project?
Not really, I was not aware of the others.
Is there anyone (in the cast) who's work you specifically admire?
I truly appreciate each and every talent in the cast and I am privileged to be part of such great company.
What's your favourite piece from the new Diesel/Edun collection?
I just love every piece in the collection, and I could pick any piece on a given day depending on my mood and depending on the occasion.