Modahnik is a Chicago based womenswear brand founded in 2009 by designer Kahindo Mateene. Kahindo, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo founded Modahnik (an anagram of her first name and last initial) during 2009 Fashion Focus Chicago.
Modahnik is inspired by the Avant garde eclecticism of Congolese art and culture. With vibrant, colorful prints and solids, we combine African textiles with cutting edge patterns, and styles for the sophisticated woman. From Congo to Chicago we cater to the woman with an exquisite sense of style, and a desire to stand apart from the crowd.
The Modahnik woman is a global nomad who sees fashion as a creative expression of her independence and individuality. Each Modahnik dress is made with the highest quality and attention to detail. Creative Director Kahindo Mateene’s artful draping, and understanding of symmetry transforms ordinary prints into stylish wearable pieces of art that accentuate a woman’s body. We believe that fashion is most stylish when it is produced with the highest ethical and socially conscious principles. Kahindo holds a BFA in Fashion Design from Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago and a BA in International Business & Economics, from Blackburn College. She is an alumni of the 2011 class of the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street Designer In Residence Program.
Kahindo grew up in transit between multiple metropolises. Although she is originally from Congo-DRC, she was born in Kampala, Uganda. Her father’s job as a diplomat meant the family moved a lot. Kahindo’s love for fashion comes from years of observing la grace de la mode Africaine. She was named Kahindo which means “girl born after boys” in her father’s tribal language of Kinyanga, because she was the first girl to be born after her parents had had three boys. Kinyanga is spoken in North Kivu on the northern shore of Lake Kivu in Eastern Congo. A home that Kahindo Mateene (MA-TEH-A-NAY) has not seen since the genocide in Rwanda spilled over into her hometown of Goma in 1994.
In the immediate years after the city was under siege the family relocated to Kinshasa. By the time Kahindo was a teenager she had lived in Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Niger, and Kenya. It was during these sejours that Kahindo says she was introduced to the eclecticism of African fashion.
“I was able to see how geography, climate and culture affected the way African women dressed,” she says. “In Kenya, it was all about wearing the latest labels from the U.S. And back at home in the DRC, the African print was huge especially during the Mobutu-era.”
Equally as influential as the style she saw on the streets was the personal style of the women in her family. Her mother’s Singer sewing machine was a house staple no matter where they went. A young Kahindo would spend hours in front of the mirror trying to find creative ways to drape and wrap left over Africana fabric across her body. Between her mother’s “rocking afro, wild makeup, and platforms” and an aunt who had a different color shoe to match every outfit in her closet, fashion was a constant in Kahindo’s life. Although she lost her mother at the early age of 7, she says that an extensive collection of family photographs are a daily reminder of her first style icon.
Kahindo has brought that early fascination with draping and prints to her ethical fashion line Modahnik.
“ I feel like what I do is integral to my DNA,” she says. “I came to a point in my life when I really embraced my culture. I immersed myself in reading Africa’s history. I have this innate need to stay connected to my heritage and using African prints helps me to feel at home. As well as constantly traveling and discovering new places such as South Africa and Mali. I want to use fashion to bridge the gap between Africa and the West.”
Kahindo recently resigned from a corporate 9-5 to focus on building Modahnik.
The Modahnik Fall Winter 2012 Collection has a vintage feel to it. It’s an ode to her late mother, who had the coolest style in the 70s and 80s during Congolese’ fashion heyday. A time when Congolese musicians such as Papa Wemba dressed in an elegant fashion and initiated “Les Sapeurs” movement. Kahindo really wanted to experiment with the intersection of masculine elements presented in a feminine sophisticated way; Its all in the small details, the pleating, collars, sexy cut-outs and pockets that adorn the dresses, as seen in the Double collar dress and the Pleated Sleeve Coat Dress.
Her online store will also be launching by the end of September with dresses from the FW12 Collection.