Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Aurora James, founder and designer at Brother Vellies, was showcasing her latest spring ’16 men’s and women’s footwear collection when a certain special guest stopped by—rapper and designer Kanye West.
The event, which took place on the first day of New York Fashion Week, featured James’ modern riffs on traditional African footwear —all handcrafted in South Africa, Kenya and Morocco. “I’m always inspired by different things in Africa,” said James. “One of the things that’s important to me is identifying different skill sets that people have [there], and finding ways to harness those into the collection.”
West quickly popped in to chat with the designer, as well as check out her latest collection of footwear. The offering included both wrap-tie and gladiator sandals, as well as embossed pointy flats and minimal mules.
“We hand-carved bone into beading, using them on sandals,” said James. “We also did our first heels, as well as Moroccan wooden clogs.” The designer also introduced the pointy Babouche flat for men for the first time. “In Morocco, all the men wear them,” she said. “In the next little while, I’m going to be developing a lot of the men’s [shoes].”
Both West and Kim Kardashian West have made past appearances at the CFDA Awards in New York, and are often supporters of upcoming labels. With his own line of shoes—surely you’ve heard of the Adidas Yeezy Boost, right?—perhaps West is getting familiarized with his industry peers.
Whatever the case may be, James has been busy participating in the upcoming Vogue Fashion Fund challenge (which will name its winning finalist on November 4). “It’s been crazy! I’ve been working on design challenges,” she said. “I got an e-mail from Anna Wintour the other day, and I thought someone was playing a trick on me.”
For a closer look at Brother Vellies’ spring ’16 collection, click below.