I always get excited when I find something new that is vibrantly coloured and intricately designed. A hidden gem that is still very exclusive and undiscovered by the masses. I’m talking about Lula fabrics. Brightly coloured cotton and linen fabrics by South African designer Melissa Kerkhoff just bring joy to my soul. How much I would like to get my hands on it to upgrade my chairs’ covers at the dinner table with the bold patterns and vivid colours. And all I can think is: Why haven’t I heard of her before?
Melissa Kerkhof got her experience at major fabric design houses before she decided to start her own design label in 2007. Inspired by what happens in life, she designs with passion and captures life’s beauty in all its different ways. Made from 100% cotton or natural linen, all fabrics are sourced and printed in South Africa. Her latest collection the Silk Road Collection is inspired by the 19th century Silk Road trade route between China and Russia. Fabrics reminding of ancient cultures like the Asian and the desert oases of Bhukhara, Samarkand, Kashgar (now known as Uzbekistan). Her Spring Collection is a mix of florals, stripes and geometrical patterns reminiscent of the glamorous and breezy beach atmosphere of the Cote d’Azur.
Her first collection, Damask and Paisley, was inspired by traditional paisley and damask designs, printed with an Indian woodcut flavour in soft, romantic, monochromatic colours on sheer linens. Her second range was very graphic and bold, called Delicious Monster Leaf with a coordinating stripe and Indian ornamental graphics reminiscent of Jacobean designs. The big leafs in a variety of colours were commissioned for a resort in the Seychelles.
Her African themed range is called the African Mischief Collection, and it moves away from the traditional designs she started out with. She took the World Soccer Cup and Africa getting more prominent globally as an inspiration to design this collection. It’s a mix of colonial Africa, ethnic Africa, the Big Five, and African nature, with animal prints, vivid colours, and tribal patterns. Colours reflect the earthy tones of the African desert as well as the brilliant hues found in the Indian Ocean.
And her New Tribal Collection is inspired by traditional folk craft such as embroidery from Uzbekhistan made for Bridal trousseaus. (known as Suzani), Indian wood cut designs – predominantly paisley motifs which originated in Jaipur (the centre of the block printing Industry in India). Arabian Mahendi design – women’s henna body painting and a bold, contemporary, multi-coloured stripe.
She also uses her fabrics in ballerina shoes, flip-flops, handbags and wash bags. I can’t wait for a Dutch fabric distributor to pick up on these beautiful designs. In the meantime I will have to look for other ways to get it.