11 January 2024

Is Aisha Ayensu "Christie Brown"?

Aisha Ayensu ranks amongst the most-notable fashion designers
from Africa, having basically forced herself into the profession.

I came across a piece last year while scrolling through the 'net and really loved it.  Although I didn't know the designer, I saved the picture, hoping to recreate the dress for a Christmas party we were having at my grandmother's house.  I wanted to look my best.

Did I forget about the outfit?  No.  But I couldn't get anyone to sew it for me, because none of the designers I met and presented the style could replicate that particular design.  And they were very honest about it.  The last designer I conferred with was the reason I changed my mind about the outfit.

The Christie Brown piece that I wanted.
She bluntly pointed out that the pattern could not be easily recreated, and I asked why.  She said because it was "a Christie Brown".  That's how unique Aisha Ayensu's designs are.  I didn't understand at first, until she started showing me more outfits from the brand, and it was then and there that I knew I was biting more than I could chew. 

Aisha Ayensu is the face behind the Christie Brown label.  She was born in Ghana but spent her childhood moving between GH and the UK.  Ayensu's family has a distinct history in Ghana.  Her great-grandfather was a chief, and her grandfather was a renowned doctor and a surgeon.

Aisha was exposed to traditional African textiles from an early age and wanted to bring these beautiful designs to a wider audience, so she studied fashion design at Accra's Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design.  She honed her skills by working for renowned designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Oscar de la Renta.

Another of Aisha Ayenu's celebrated pieces.

Aisha soon felt the need to create her own brand.  So in 2008, at only 21 years old, she launched "Christie Brown".  Apparently, that moniker is not meant to be a reference to the designer.  Christie Brown is rather the name of Ayensu's grandmother, who herself was a humble seamstress and inspired the creation of Aisha's brand.

From the very beginning, Ayensu's designs were a hit.  She quickly established a reputation for creating clothes that were sophisticated, feminine and modern, while still retaining a strong connection to her African heritage (one of the things I love about her style).  It wasn't long before Aisha's creations were being worn by celebrities including BeyoncĂ© and her dancers during The Mrs. Carter Show tour, Alicia Keys, Jackie Appiah and Black Panther actress Danai Gurira, to mention but a few.

Outfits worn by BeyoncĂ©'s dancers that were inspired by Christie Brown.

Aisha's designs have earned her numerous accolades.  She was named Glitz Style Awards "African Designer of the Year" in 2018 and 2019.  In 2009, at the Arise Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg, she was crowned "Emerging Designer of the Year".  She was ranked amongst the 2016 "Forbes 30 Most Promising Entrepreneurs in Africa" and was dubbed "Best Fashion Designer" at the Africa Prestigious Awards in 2018.