Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Omwa + Idia'dega Collaboration Fuses Kenyan Traditions, U.S. Trends

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Omwa + Idia'dega Collaboration Fuses Kenyan Traditions, U.S. Trends

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Where Tereneh Mosley calls home these days depends on when you ask her.

She keeps most of her belongings in storage in New York, where she used to teach at Parsons The New School of Design, and her issues of Vogue magazine are delivered to Pittsburgh. "Thanksgiving dinner is on the North Side," she says.

For the past year, the Pittsburgh native has split time between her hometown and a hut in Kenya, where she lives while collaborating with the Olorgesailie Maasai women's artisan group to create a fashion line of apparel, shoes and accessories for men and women that fuses the traditional styles of the village's people with contemporary trends.

During New York Fashion Week earlier this month, she roomed with former Pittsburgh couple Lesley and Kamau Ware by night and showed off the OMWA + Idia'Dega Tomon collection to fashion enthusiasts, media and potential buyers by day at Warehouse Gallery, an art and creative space the Wares run in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. (The couple displayed their new collection of bow ties, too.)

"This is what I'm supposed to be doing," says Ms. Mosley, daughter of Pittsburgh-based sculptor Thaddeus Mosley. "My main goal is just to have more people see the collection, getting it in retail stores and getting the story out there."

She's been working on the line for nearly a year but has been considering it since studying fashion in graduate school, which she attended in Kenya through a scholarship from the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh.

"I just kind of fell in love with everything that was happening and just the aesthetic of the design, the lifestyle, the culture," she says.

After a colleague nudged her to turn her talk into action, she left her teaching position at Yale-NSU College in Singapore and used her last paycheck to fund her trip to Kenya.

"At the very beginning it was just a matter of spending time," Ms. Mosley says. "I would just sit there, and a lot of times there wasn't anyone who spoke English. I would just spend all day sitting there watching them bead."

The artisans, who range from teens to seniors, bead to help support their families, but it's not uncommon for days to go by with few or even no sales. …

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