Dennise Wattimah, also known as Taheera, is a fashion icon based in Nairobi. Her work with Nairobi Apparel District (NAD), a clothing brand that designs custom-made street collections, has enabled her to rise in the fashion industry. She was recently featured by 2ManySiblings, the founders of Thrift Social. She talks to Alfayo Onyango about her controversial choices as far as her wardrobe goes
My fashion journey began…as a child with a love for dressing my mum at a young age. She would ask me for advice on what to wear to work the following day, I would help her pick an outfit and make sure that it matches. I was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to style. I hated colour clashing.
My most memorable fashion moment was when…when I attended Thrift Social Nairobi’s made in Kenya edition. I wore dope accessories and I got a lot of compliments. I love making a statement, especially with my jewellery. I even got featured on Zumi Kenya’s online fashion magazine. That was amazing.
A day in the life of a designer starts…with choosing what to wear. What I wear depends on my mood that day. Some days I want to look good, wear my heels and put my make-up on, while some days, I’m just a sweatpants and sneakers kind of girl.
Fashion to me is…about expressing my identity, using my clothes to tell someone something about myself.
When it comes to style…pretty much anything works. I’d describe my style as edgy, sometimes grunge, other times minimal. I’m really diverse. Street styles from Paris Fashion Week really inspire me — they’re so rad. I mean, I adore chic street style; I also love an all-black outfit and a bit of athlesiure too. To me, fashion is what you buy and style is what you do with it.
If I had all the money in the world…I’d invest in future projects to create a business empire. I’d also want to establish an organisation to nurture children’s talents, be it music, visual arts, theatre or other forms of artistic expression.
My favourite international fashion designers are…Yves Saint Laurent. He revolutionised women’s clothing and introduced “Power dressing” for women. Christian Louboutin is my second pick because of his legendary high-end stilettos with his red bottom signature. I think every woman should own a pair of red bottoms.
I believe you should wear…what complements your physical and emotional attributes. You should wear clothes depending on how they make you feel. Do they make you feel sexy? In control? Wealthy? I also believe you are what you wear and the type of clothes you wear reveal your personality and also sends a message to those around you.
Everyone should own…a watch. They are convenient, and they signal style. It is a detailed art at the higher end of human ingenuity and creativity.
I would most love to dress…American actress Yara Shahidi. I love her youthful, trendy and sophisticated style. She is one of my style crushes.
If I wasn’t a designer…I would be a painter, a photographer or a stylist.
I’m currently wearing…a black leather jacket, a black turtle neck, Levi’s mom jeans and black H&M platform boots.
My best fashion buy are…Christian Louboutin stilettos.
My style icon is…Rihanna because first of all, I love me some Rihanna! She will try almost anything and I love how she puts her bold personality into her outfits.
She is a real style chameleon. Second is Teyana Taylor because she’s done athleisure before it was even a thing. She can pull of Balenciaga sock-style sneakers, a white tank and biker shorts and kill it.
My go-to accessory…are sunglasses! I can never get enough.
I could live in…a beach house. There’s something about waking up to a view of sun, sand and palm trees. It’s amazing.
My signature scent is…Black Opium Eau de Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent.
My fashion obsession…is Nike sneakers.
I stock up on…rings. I love chunky rings, earrings and more sunglasses.