Ghanaian-Minnesotan Fashion Line Akua Gabby Hosts Minneapolis Pop-up

At last summer’s Diaspora Fashion Show, Minnesota fashion designer Jacqueline Addison made an impressive runway debut with a collection of looks under her label Akua Gabby, including a brightly patterned, floor-length gown with a yoked necklace that evoked African neck rings. Two weeks ago, the first-generation African designer from Ghana showed her latest collection at a Girls’ Night Out runway show hosted by the Minnesota Twins Wives Organization at the Calhoun Beach Club—turning out yet another inspired collection of classically chic, boldly patterned designs. All this, and she’s still a student in the fashion design program at the Art Institute International Minnesota.

What makes Addison’s designs truly stand out is her use of traditional, hand-batiked African textiles. She reinterprets the patterns by pairing them in unexpected ways and combinations, rendered in modern silhouettes.

She’ll be showcasing her latest collection in a one-night pop-up sale this Friday at Uptown boutique Showroom, which specializes in locally made clothing and accessories. I chatted with the designer in advance of the show to find out more.

Akua Gabby designer Jacqueline Addison

image provided by designer

Q: When and how did you first learn to sew and design?

A: My father was a designer, so I pretty much picked it up from him. I’ve been doing it since I was little with him. He passed away when I was 9 years old, so I didn’t sew for a couple of years. Eventually a few years later I picked it up again. When I moved to Minnesota to pursue fashion design eight years ago, that’s when I seriously began designing. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

Q: I love how you reinterpret traditional African textiles. Can you tell me more about these fabrics and why you love working with them?

A: Many of them are actually knit together, strand by strand, to form different patterns in their designs. Every pattern in the design has meaning. The reason why I choose to use them, I really love my culture and I wanted to bring it to my designs. I love using my prints to stay true to my culture and heritage, while bringing my own view and try something different—bringing the new to the old.

Q: Where else do you get your design inspiration?

A: Most of my design inspiration comes from how I grew up. People work differently—we get something old and making something new out of it. Lately I’ve been inspired by the designs of Michael Costello and pop singers like Beyoncé and Rihanna, they actually wear African prints and that gives me a lot of inspiration. I also take inspiration from nature—flowers, going to the beach, the park. I also like sculptural art and paintings, and I go to museums often.

Q: Involved in any other upcoming shows at all?

A: I’ll be showing one new design at the Rumble on the Runway fashion show in August. I’ll be putting a collection together for fall, but I’m not sure what yet. I’m very fast at sewing, but it takes me a little bit longer to come up with the designs. Once I get the creative process done, the sewing goes fast.

Akua Gabby Pop-up Shop: 3-7 p.m. Fri., Showroom, 615 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-345-7391,

More photos of Akua Gabby’s latest collection:

photos by DeSèan Mills

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