My mum always said that I would look great in a sack. Enter off-cut hessian (an incredibly sustainable material), some remnant t-shirt yarn and a love for weaving. The result was the birth of my art piece skirt. And so, my chapter in design begins in the most extraordinary way. It started with a chance encounter with Suzy Menkes, the ex-editor of Vogue International. I caught her eye whilst wearing my vibrant, hand woven, highly textured, hessian and yarn creation. The rest is history. As fate would have it, this once accountant has now become an accidental designer.
You have probably heard of sustainability - the terms carbon footprint and, among others, a circular economy. But sometimes, by simply taking the old and the discarded, breathing new life into it and in doing so, protecting the love of the handmade, this too can be viewed as sustainability. Being sustainable is essentially and instinctively who I am. Ironically, as a kid of the 80’s who’s parents were teachers, I spent all of my time teaching myself. I famously named my mom D.I.Y – every time I ever suggested doing anything her response was a consistent “DO IT Yourself”.
Creativity was boundaryless in our house, yet resources were incredibly limited. I clearly remember attempting to bake a cake with half the ingredients and a dictated set of instructions. The life lesson I learnt and which I continue to practice is to respect resources, use them wisely and to make your own rules. Both my grandmothers have a limited education, both leaving school at the age of 12. Despite this, they have demonstrated a true love of lifelong learning, using their limited resources to the maximum, teaching themselves to sew, plant, and to pickle just about everything under the sun.
The shift from the corporate to the creative world as well as my role as a mother has reminded me to use what I have which include my experience, my hands and my heart. I simply want to be kind to my planet and its people.
The story of my first collection begins with wit and colour in true LaaniRaani Style. I instinctively know what I want and who I am. I create what I love in the way that I love. Art and fashion come full circle in sharing my narrative about how I understand the world around me through the lens of my African, Indian and Irish heritage. Each unique piece is first lovingly handmade in my home studio with reclaimed scraps of T-shirt yarn collected from factories in and around Cape Town. For me, great design always begins with improvising and ends with leaving you with something to think about. Each and every piece has been thoughtfully designed and takes into account the following:
Conscious Material and Considered Design: In harmony with our environment, we use primarily end of roll /remnant stock that would otherwise be disposed off. Vintage fabrics and offcuts that reduce environmental impact as much as possible are used. By using circular design principles, we turn offcuts into packaging, jewellery, and homewares, ultimately aiming toward zero waste.
Artisanally Crafted: Through the unique fusion of art and design, we pay homage to classical craftsmanship and its long history, while working with a small, highly skilled team of artisans creating one-of-a-kind pieces. Collaborations with local artists and artisans are at the heart of Laaniraani. Our range of woven hessian shoes have been created with the assistance of a woman cobbler. Through our up-skilling programme, we establish sustainable employment opportunities for local women by teaching them the art of weaving, beading and hand embroidery. We offer our crafters the chance to work from home, thus saving on transportation costs and lowering our carbon footprint. We also offer mentoring opportunities to local design students.
Ethical Practice: We treat all our artisans and creative collaborators fairly. At Laaniraani, openness, collaboration, and individuality are valued.
Consciously Crafted: Small batches and limited collections are key. Each piece is unique. Days of handwork and craftsmanship go into every special piece. We offer made-to -order, bespoke design and an aftercare service. Timeless silhouettes act as a canvas to weave my heart's passion, transfer emotion and leave just enough room for poetry.
We hope that our nostalgic, handcrafted and made with love collectable pieces give you and future generations much happiness. May the joy of our art inspire your heart to seek the Laaniraani within you. And the name, you may ask, "LAANIRAANI"? Laani is a colloquial name for boss, person in the ‘know’ in South Africa and Raani is the Sanskrit word for Queen. Laani also means heavenly or rare in Hawaiian. So, to be honest I really didn’t put much thought into the name. It just came to me and, as with most things in my life, if I love it I roll with it! To me LAANIRAANI is a girl who shows up, gets noticed and makes her own magic along the way.