One&Only, a collection of ultra-luxury resorts located in world’s most exotic locales, and lemlem, the artisan-driven sustainable fashion label produced in Africa founded by supermodel Liya Kebede, are pleased to announce the launch of an exclusive collaboration celebrating the craftsmanship of Ethiopia and Rwanda, with a bespoke scarf designed by lemlem and inspired by One&Only Gorilla’s Nest and One&Only Nyungwe House in Rwanda.
Centred around graphic black and white arrow patterns, the scarf’s design is representative of traditional iconic lemlem weaving pattern named tibeb in Ethiopia, melded with the rich colours of Rwanda. Hand woven by a collective of skilled artisans in Ethiopia, each scarf has been lovingly crafted by a women-owned studio that specialises in the traditional cotton weaving techniques. The scarf’s colourways of verdant forest, dark olive, and bright lime greens and earthy brown represent the lush greenery, rich soil and vibrant forests surrounding One&Only’s Rwandan resorts, as well as the exceptional interior design of the resort spaces. Honouring the endangered mountain gorilla and the twelve gorilla families that live in Volcanoes National Park located on the doorstep of One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, each scarf has a hand-embroidered gorilla motif. lemlem collaborated with the cooperative of women of Ibaba Rwanda – a local embroidery workshop located just outside of Kigali that promotes and supports initiatives and economic development for the empowerment of rural women in Rwanda – to hand embroider the gorilla on each scarf.
Versatile in styling, the scarf can be used as a sarong while lounging poolside or as a wrap during nights spent at the bonfire listening to the stories of Rwanda. The custom scarf evokes the stunning destination of Rwanda and captures the bespoke feeling and sophistication of the One&Only Resorts within the country.
“This collaboration with lemlem is evocative of the natural beauty of Rwanda and our inspiring local communities, such as Ibaba Rwanda whose detailed embroidery is a portrayal of the many skilled artisans within this entrepreneurial country. lemlem’s vision for this scarf wonderfully brings Rwanda’s spirit to life within the fashion world.” said Craig Storkey, Area Manager for One&Only Gorilla’s Nest and One&Only Nyungwe House in Rwanda. “The One&Only guest is inherently interested in the traditions and culture of the destination, and this is a fantastic accessory to bring home as a reminder of this vibrant, welcoming country.”
Inspired by the unique Ethiopian handwoven patterns, lemlem’s collections showcase bohemian, chic styles perfect for travellers. Meaning to bloom and flourish in the Ethiopian language of Amharic, lemlem is a label of love, celebrating women and nature. Started by supermodel Liya Kebede after a trip to her native country of Ethiopia where she recognized the beauty and rare quality of the traditional weavings, lemlem was founded to preserve these ancient art forms and simultaneously create job opportunities for local artisans. The artisan-driven brand of beautiful women’s resortwear made entirely and responsibly in Africa has a core mission of preserving the local arts of weaving and inspiring economic growth on the continent. Since its founding, lemlem has expanded its presence in Africa beyond Ethiopia to Morocco and Kenya, and Rwanda.
In this collaboration, lemlem partnered with the Ibaba Rwanda collective, whose model of social enterprise empowers and uplifts the skilled embroiders and handcrafting women of Rwanda. Starting in the 1970s, a community of Belgian nuns lived in Rutongo and began training young women from the village in embroidery skills. The decades-long initiative to grant these women a source of income and socio-economic empowerment is continued today through Ibaba Rwanda’s rural women’s cooperative now employing 25 full-time embroiderers whose skills – passed down through the generations – allow them to support their families and showcase sustainable Rwandan arts through international collaborations and the production of their own for-sale goods. Ibaba Rwanda also includes a not-for-profit organisation, which develops training programmes for members and creates further work opportunities, resulting in their being granted a Social and Solidarity Economy label.
“Our collaboration with One&Only is a celebration of African craftsmanship and women, which are at the core of the lemlem mission,” said Liya Kebede, founder of lemlem. “The scarf, 100% cotton and handmade, started in the hands of our skilled artisan weavers in Ethiopia and was then embroidered by the women of Ibaba Rwanda. It was wonderful to connect those two countries to create this unique and delicate scarf. It tells the story and the beauty of Ethiopia and Rwanda, their landscapes, their people and of course the gorillas.”
Offering an exclusive front-row seat to observe endangered mountain gorillas in the wild, One&Only Gorilla’s Nest is cushioned in the foothills of the breathtaking Virunga volcano range. The ultimate ultra-luxury resort in Kinigi, the resort is a private sanctuary just five minutes from Volcanoes National Park, one of the few remaining natural habitats of the endangered mountain gorilla. Perfectly placed on stilts amongst the giant Eucalyptus trees sit the resort’s 21 guest lodges and suites, each designed to frame nature as they float amongst the treetops.
Nestled on the edge of the vast and ancient Nyungwe National Park rainforest, within the lush green expanse of a working tea plantation, One&Only Nyungwe House offers guests an exclusive window into Rwanda’s fascinating wildlife and culture. Immersed in wild beauty surrounded by awe-inspiring jungle views, the design of the resort celebrates the raw beauty of the landscape and embraces local art, craftsmanship and motifs. The 22 modern guest rooms and suites fit harmoniously within the natural surroundings, paying homage to the country and its culture through Rwandan-inspired design and the use of the age-old Rwandan geometric art form of Imigongo.
The One&Only x lemlem scarf launches in October 2022 and will be available for a retail price of $195 USD at the resort boutiques located at One&Only Gorilla’s Nest and One&Only Nyungwe House and online at lemlem.com.