Designer Claude Kameni's West Africa-Inspired Fashion Wins Over Tracee Ellis Ross and More Stars

The Lavie by CK Spring 2021 runway show. “It was weird because there was no audience,” says label founder Claude Kameni
MODELS, KAMENI: MC GREGOR LAPIERRE

The Lavie by CK Spring 2021 runway show. “It was weird because there was no audience,” says label founder Claude Kameni (inset).

The L.A.-based 26-year-old designer, whose creations are also worn by Amanda Seales and Viola Davis, showed her most recent collection in New York Fashion Week for the first time.

In the past two years, L.A.-based fashion designer Claude Kameni has seen her 8-year-old West African-textile-inspired line, Lavie by CK, embraced by Hollywood.

In 2018, Tracee Ellis Ross wore a custom Kameni dress to host the American Music Awards after the star's stylist Karla Welch discovered the label via Instagram. The label outfitted Viola Davis in a shoot for the July issue of Vanity Fair, while Amanda Seales wore a custom dress when she hosted the BET Awards this June.

Says Seales’ stylist Bryon Javar of his client’s BET look, “I was really inspired by the movie Coming to America when Vanessa Bell Calloway was going to be marrying Prince Akeem. She had on the big gown and the ponytail with the gold hair accessories. I wanted to do a modern inspiration with an African spin on it.”

Adds Kameni of her aesthetic, “I’m really passionate about bold shoulder pads and bold prints.”

Kameni, 26, this year was presented at New York Fashion Week for the first time, albeit virtually. Staged at Spring Place, a private-membership club and workspace in Beverly Hills, on Sept. 14, her 2020 men’s and women’s presentation was a vibrant mix of beguilingly patterned gowns, jackets, suits and even bell bottoms (most pieces run $80 to $150, laviebyck.com), set to a soundtrack of African music.

Kameni, originally from Cameroon, tells THR that her line has received increased attention thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement. “There are a lot of Black talented people in this industry,” she says. “It should keep going, for other people as well — not just me.”

This story first appeared in the Oct. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.