There was one important person missing at my workshop: Angelika Huwiler, the 29-year woman who started the Zambia Fashion Council. Her absence was righteously excused because she had better things to do. Like getting married for example, and going on her honeymoon with new husband Tue, a tall, blonde Dane she met seven years ago. “He was checking out my legs in a bar in Lusaka,” she giggles when I ask her how they met. Tue was doing a six-month internship during his Master’s degree and courted her for a few months until the deal was sealed on a road trip in Southern Africa. “We slept in rooftop tends, cooked on an open fire, bathed in waterfalls and in the sea; we all smelt pretty bad and my hair was almost matted at the end of the trip,” she laughs. They married in the garden of a beautiful little hotel in Livingstone and spent the next two weeks traveling in Peru, where they visited Lima, Machu Picchu, the Amazon and the beach. “We fell in love even deeper than we already were,” she sighs.
She’s still visibly glowing from the experience when I arrive at the house. Her words are soft-spoken, her eyes wide and her mannerisms pleasantly pragmatic but I can tell she’s a pressed for time. She mumbles something to her sister Gloria about the bachelorette party she’s hosting in a couple of hours and the costumes and snacks she’s meant to prepare. She’s not one for half-assed projects, but at least her make-up is done and she has her first outfit on: cobalt blue pants by Zambian designer Kapasa Musonda and a light beige sweater by Zovala, her own line of crochet knitwear. “I attend fashion weeks around the African continent,” she tells me referring to her colorful, bohemian wardrobe, “and it’s fun buying catwalk samples. I also enjoy visiting Zambian designers studios/bedrooms and picking up whatever they have on the shelves. I also buy clothes from VALA, the store I own with my colleague Mu (the Creative Director of the Fashion Council). I don’t consider myself to be a big shopper, but I guess that’s all relative. I like buying pieces that I’ll wear again and again. I see clothes as investments for life, which I’ll pass onto my children. I love raiding my mum’s wardrobe, and my mother-in-law’s attic which is full of clothes from her youth and her mother’s youth from the 1920s. They tell so many stories!”
Angelika is an self-proclaimed entrepreneur. The daughter of a Swiss-German man and a Zambian woman, she grew up in Zambia, Namibia and England. “It’s very hard to choose just one nationality, as I feel very much the sum of both parts,” she decides. Six years ago, when she settled back in the capital she set up a property development and construction company. Over the next five years she will be building fifty green houses, outfitted with “solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system, a nature pool with no chlorine, and renovated using predominantly local building materials which have a low carbon foot print.” It may be a peculiar professional choice for a woman, especially compared to her artistic older sister who has traveled the world in pursuit of an acting and modeling career, but she is a responsible soul with an instinct for growth potential. Just like she saw the need for a fashion community in Zambia. She and Mu started by launching Fashion Friday, held every first Friday of the month, a masterclass, followed by a fashion show, which brings together fashion enthusiasts “to impart knowledge, experiment with style, support local design and help facilitate the organic growth of the industry”.
Gloria is visiting from London. She’s staying in Angelika’s guest room until her duties as my escort are completed. She’s been a wonderful host and I can most certainly see how the sisters have adopted each other’s sensibilities. I would have guessed Angelika was the eldest though. She’s serious and accomplished and thinks twice before she speaks. She’s the kind of woman you can count on for the hard facts, but at the same time imagine raising a healthy brood of children. She’s the solid rock to her sister’s meandrous spirit. “We always shared a room growing up,” Gloria recalls. “At this point we’ll order the same thing on a menu, end up in coordinated outfits whether or not we plan to, and finish each other’s sentences. We share similar dreams of what we’d like to do in Zambia and have weathered many storms together. Angelika is such a tough cookie, I love having her in my corner… She’s the most supportive and capable little rock of a person you could possibly ask for. I don’t know what I’d do without her.” I believe this is the magic of sisterhood, whether the girls are separated by many large continents and just a simple borough: Two are better than one.
Make-up by Kaajal Vaghela.