Who is Lydia Cutler director of Kemunto Fashions and the Aberdeen Fashion Week?

 

Lydia Cutler is originally from Kenya, she also lived in India, Australia and the UK. She moved to England in 2000 for her Masters in education in Leeds where she met her ex-husband. She eventually moved to Aberdeen in Scotland in 2001 where she founded the Aberdeen Fashion Week which is celebrating its 8th edition virtually this year.

Lydia has been sketching clothes since the age of 7 and learnt tailoring in Junior Secondary school. A magazine with bridal dresses which someone brought into her home sparked a keen interest in fashion design in her. Even though she went into teaching as a career, fashion design gradually became her work and great joy in life. Her label Kemunto Fashions which she started in Australia received great success. Lydia showcased her collections in fashion weeks in London and New York City. She won several awards in Paris and London. She started a bridal shop in Australia and travelled to various countries to showcase her wedding dresses. She now owns a Bridal Salon which carries bridal gowns for sale and rental, evening wear and crochet wear in a picturesque village, Peterculter, in Aberdeenshire country in Scotland.   

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Tell us more about the Aberdeen Fashion Week

I am organising the Aberdeen Fashion week in Scotland which will take place on May 29 and 30 2021. This event will enable upcoming and established fashion designers from around the world to showcase their collections to small boutique owners. This year it will be a virtual edition with models working at a socially safe distance. It will combine fashion designers and entertainers such as a comedian and live music. We have also invited a fashion lecturer to introduce the latest concepts in fashion design to our viewers. We work with hair and make-up artists, photographers and model managers to help the designers and models rehearse and backstage on the days of the fashion shows. We normally host a party after the show.

What makes it different from other international fashion weeks?

Ours is the only fashion week in Scotland. We train our own models from all over the world. It has a very family like feel to it as we all work towards a common goal. Our VIPs and boutique owners normally sit on the front row. They can order or buy clothes on the spot during the event. We also organise fashion awards and know to make it entertaining. We even perform a special song every year. We support fashion for men, women and children. We ask for a small contribution to make this event possible.

If you had to name 3 values that guide you, which would they be?

Happiness and love, look beyond animosity and beyond people’s colour.

Spirituality is important to me, it is about finding your inner balance, peace of mind (looking ahead, not panicking) and humility.

Determination: I am highly driven and I don’t see failure.

What do you identify with about the Kenyan culture? What have you embraced about the Scottish culture? 

Respect is a very central value to the Kenyan culture and I embrace that. The village in which I live just outside of Aberdeen has inhabitants that love and support one another. I really like that and I appreciate how hard they work: it motivates me to work hard too.

 

What did you learn from volunteering that makes you even better at your job?

I helped organise fashion shows at a special needs school in my village. Since 2020, my parents and I have welcomed 10 children who used to live on the streets into my mother’s house in Kenya. We receive no financial support from the government but are proud to make a difference helping raise these children in a safe environment.

When was the last time that you were touched by one of your clients’ reactions?

A girl with a minor disability told us how much she would like to be a model for a fashion show so she participated in ours. It boosted her confidence and she went on to enter pageants as a contestant

Any exciting news about your event?

Our event on May 29 and 30 will be aired live on Facebook and YouTube.

2 universities from Pakistan will be showcasing. Students will be showcasing their graduate  collections.

What kind of people and organisations would you like to connect to?

We would appreciate being connected to corporate sponsors and fashion lovers who could support us financially and in resources to help us run our events. In October we hope to run a socially distanced event, with tests provided, in Aberdeen. We are looking for a large venue and lighting equipment free of charge on that day. We will need some volunteers who can help our models dress backstage. We provide recommendations and school credits for students who volunteer for us. We are always looking for new exciting fashion designers so please if you know some, send them our way!

Where can people follow your events and company?

They can visit our event website to register as a fashion designer or buyer and follow us on Facebook and on YouTube as well. We are currently finalising our event programme so stay tuned.

If you enjoyed Lydia Cutlers interview, you will probably like Rosee Elliott’s as well!

This interview was conducted by Lucie Cunningham from Tell Them Well Communications in March 2021. Lucie is a freelance editor, copywriter and translator with over 10 years of community project management. She has lived in France, England, The USA, the Netherlands and is currently based in Scotland.