Paris: The silk was from Varanasi, the jewellery from Kenya, and the look right on trend as Maiyet a socially conscious new luxury brand showed its latest ready-to-wear line at Paris Fashion Week on Monday.
Embroidered silks, block prints, fluid pants, coloured little leather jackets and exquisite jewels, Maiyet's spring look felt both feminine and contemporary, sent out by its US designer Gabriella Zanzani.
Named after the Egyptian goddess of harmony, Maiyet bills itself as a new kind of luxury brand, discovering and partnering with craftsmen from around the world to cater to a savvy global fashion market.
The two-year old firm is the brainchild of South African human rights lawyer Paul Van Zyl.
After working on the post-Apartheid truth and reconciliation commission, Van Zyl spent eight years travelling the globe, working in countries trying to build similar initiatives.
"I saw that the artisans in these countries had an incredible skill, and I thought that skill was underused. It was trapped in the local market," he told AFP ahead of the off-calendar show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
So he hit upon the idea of a fashion brand that would harness that potential.
To do so he teamed up with social entrepreneur Daniel Lubetsky and fashion industry veteran Kristy Caylor, and together they travelled the world, visiting 25 cities in six months, from Indonesia to Africa, Peru or India.
Today Maiyet employs 250 artisans worldwide, sourcing textiles in India, hand-knit sweaters in Peru, horn, bone and hand-poured brass in Kenya -- where its 15 local artisans were until now churning out salad tongs.
"Our philosophy is: 'You have an amazing skill, and if somebody can give you some more training, and more design direction, then it gives you the opportunity to sell your products at a higher price'," explained Van Zyl.


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