Sylvia Owori Has Designed A Busuuti Collection in Collaboration with The Nabagereka

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Sylvia Owori continues to be the forward thinking creative she has been since she started her eponymous label in the early 2000’s, this time collaborating with the Nabagereka of Buganda Sylvia Nagginda on a Busuuti collection. She took to Facebook to share the news of the collab. The two fashion icons don’t just share a first name. According to the statement, the Queen has been a long time muse of hers, and she was honored to style her African Woman Magazine cover back in 2006. “The queen and I are of the view that it’s imperative we especially celebrate this elegant attire with unprecedented charm,” she goes on to share in the statement.


The Nabagereka wearing the new busuuti on an official visit in the US

Busuuti also called Gomesi is the official dress for women in Buganda. The dress is very elaborate, with a square neck adorned with two buttons, pointy sleeves, fumaterll skirt, and a huge sash. There are many historical contradictions about the origin of the busuuti/gomesi. Contemporary history indicates that the it was originally made for Gayaza schoolgirls in around 1940s and 50s. Their first school uniform was a cotton sheet, which they wrapped around their breasts and tied to the waist with a strip of cloth. But the uniform often slipped off when the girls bent down to dig. Their missionary tutors thought it was indecent for a woman to expose her breasts. So, they had an Indian tailor sew out the busuuti/gomesi. Two decades later, the gomesi became a popular outfit at all traditional functions for the Baganda and later the Basoga, Iteso, Alur and Japadhola.


The new Busuuti ready for fitting


The intricate detail

But some people, especially the Baganda, dispute this version of history and say the busuuti/gomesi existed long before the coming of the missionaries and that missionaries only improved the existing design made from bark cloth and changed the name to claim the discovery.

For the Sylvia Owori- Nabagereka collab, the team is working with beads, lace and rhinestones made from recycled glass, new kinds of silks, cow horns and other ethically sourced materials “to create contemporary styles imbued with a sophisticated charm”, according to the statement.

This is not the first time, the busuuti is inspiring a fashion collection. Ras Kasozi’s 2014 collection presented at Kampala Fashion Week was a celebration of the iconic dress. We are obviously very excited about this, and can’t wait to see what these two fashion icons  have up their impeccably tailored sleeves.

Photo credit: Sylvia Owori/ African Woman Magazine

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