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Designing, Laughing and Designing Again

Former freedom fighter Mrs. Alemtsehai Lebasi is a well-received designer in the local fashion industry. She has long years of experience and she is always eager to share her knowledge with juniors in the field. Q & A gives you today, designer Alemtsehai Lebasi.

  • Let’s go a bit back in time, what urged you to join the armed struggle?

Just like every Eritrean at the moment, I was, too, burning with nationalistic and patriotic feelings. What else could there possibly be?

  • You were wounded…

Yes I was. In 1980, I injured my left leg and a year later my right knee and I also had head and shoulder injuries. I spent more than seven months in the Ararab, where we had our hospital, and then left to Germany in 1982 as my injuries were quite heavy. It took a long time for my recovery.

  • In Germany

I had to learn the language, I worked hard too. I, initially, went to Germany to get treated, so there was nobody that could come to the hospital to teach me the German language, so I did my best through self-learning. And, also, while I was still under recovery, I started high school lessons in Haidelberg. It was somewhat hard but I managed to go through five years of intense studies in biology.

  • Back to Eritrea

I came back to Eritrea with my family in 1994. And here we are!

  • Designing

Since a young age, way before I even joined the army, I used to do embroideries in Asmara. And in Germany, I stitched some clothes while I was studying, and I did update myself
with education in fashion and styling. And, more recently, in 2003-2008 my children were in India so I stayed for some time with my children there, and since I didn’t want to just waste my time by staying idle, I took some courses for to expand further my knowledge I had in fashion and designing. I treasured the opportunity to learn Indian sartorial.

  • Would want to learn more?

Yes, always.

  • Alemtsehai Brand

I officially started my business  only five years ago. I make traditional attires added up with some futuristic touches as to have a modern look based on traditional characteristics. Making solely traditional garments such as Zuria and Tilfi do not present much difficulty, however making our young girls happy is what makes the whole fashion industry hallenging in a good way; we always have to satisfy the avant-gardism of our youngsters. They demand for fresh and modern outfits combined with tradition. As such, I had a lot of ‘catching-up’ to do: I referred several books and sometimes I blindly relay on my imagination…

  • Do you get inspiration from other designers? Ever?

Yes, but is hard to say. Like I told you I like to base my designs on my own points of views, I simply want to stand out with my piece of fabrics.

  • Fashion shows

So far I have had six fashion shows and more coming soon. The most encouraging thing about fashion shows are feedbacks; that is where a designer can get the most of responses. And, as for me, every time I host a fashion show, many come with encouraging and constructive comments. I immensely appreciate it.

  • You work hard in sharing your knowledge…

I do as it gives me pleasure in sharing my know-hows with junior designers. Then again not passing down what you know is a big squander. And since I profoundly believe so, I try in my outmost ability to share what I learned through years of experience. In addition, I do some counseling related to fashion and fashion tips.

  • Do you charge?

I don’t. I told you it is a matter of principles.

  • How is the market for traditional clothing?

Good; highly desired in national, religious or events such as matrimonies and baptisms. And the market for traditional clothing is exceedingly promoted abroad, it is all related to how Eritreans living abroad have profound connections with the homeland, our traditions and our identity at core.

  • Designers working in your brand say you’re nice…

I am honorably flattered. I believe that human beings need to help each other, it is actually an innate need. As such they help and I help them in return. I love seeing my girls working hard and it delights me when I see them learn. They are like my sisters!

  • ‘Laugh Yoga’ at work, is it true?

Yes, every morning before we start working we kick off our day by practicing ‘laugh therapy’. We start with a relaxed body and elated mind. I highly recommend it to everybody.

  • Thank you for your time!







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