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THIERRY KEPGANG NANA sitting on a chair indoors

Kenath Nana Creates DEBUT Collection Inspired By His Past, Present, and Future

Thierry Kepgang Nana, who also goes by Kenath, was born in Douala, the largest city in Cameroon, where he spent most of his childhood before moving to the U.S. He started nurturing his desire to be a fashion designer in high school and in college when he attended Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was accepted into the prestigious Advanced Fashion Design program at FIDM and will be showing an inspired collection at FIDM’s Annual DEBUT Runway Show event which will live-stream on Thursday, August 18, 2022 at 6:00 PM PDT. The designer is continuing his education at FIDM and starts his journey into his Bachelor’s in Professional Studies on July 7. We caught up with him to learn more.

Tell us about your path to FIDM: When I was living in Douala, I went to numerous different high schools (Collège Chevreul, College Roger Mfupa, and College Bilingue Saint Laurant) where I nurtured my dream and ambition for fashion. Before coming to FIDM, I started shaping my talents in fashion at the great Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In fact it is there that I actually discovered FIDM. Because one of my professors at the time was a FIDM graduate. And if it isn’t funny, a former DEBUT student, graduated herself. This goes without saying, it wasn’t as easy as it seems, to be a student here at FIDM, my “dream fashion school” at the time. At the time, I was an alien green card black immigrant with the great desire of becoming a super star creative fashion designer. Before I realized I was poor and that the education system in the U.S. was and still is a luxury for people like me (poor with no great credit score as being new in the U.S.). 

Certainly this didn’t stop me from dreaming of more and to go after my dream. After being accepted to FIDM and moving to L.A with only $300 dollars in my pocket and my dream in my heart. It took me three years later to see my dream come through. I am thankful for my time in service as a Field Artillery soldier to give me the opportunity to be living my dream as a fashion designer graduating here at FIDM today.

What is your point of view, as a designer? As a designer, I define myself to be a dreamer and artist with multiple talents, hungry for more growth and learning as I become my best self every challenging day. I am excited to introduce my debut fashion collection this 21st, July summer at the Hope building. 

Tell us about your DEBUT collection: This collection is the materialization of my being between past, present, and future as I grow to become the man I was minded to be—up and down between culture barriers, acceptance, belief systems, and finding myself. It is “the journey of my life.” I’ve named it, “FEMININE.”

What fabrics can we expect to see? With this collection, I personally designed a fabric print design with the imprint of my cultures to embrace who I am as an individual self but also as part of a tribe. I made the choice of using fabric that symbolizes my connection to who I was, have become, and want to be—fragile as an organza fabric, yet beautiful and transparent; cozy and warm as a knit, but yet vulnerable and delicate; strong as luxury abstract brocade, with a desire to shine and bright everyone hearts as I touch them with my art.

How do you hope people will feel when they see your designs? As I mentioned before, this collection is personal to me, but yet I hope many other people will recognize themselves in my journey and feel safe knowing they aren’t alone. And, most importantly, find answers and strength in my collection as they go on their own journey.

How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? I am very excited and confident of my journey here at FIDM as an engaged student and to be a great designer. I am thankful for the family and friends I have made throughout my journey here as I am still a student here.

What is a lesson you've learned as you've been working on your collection? I certainly went through so much pain, depression, and anxiety to be where I am today but I stay humble to what the future has stored for as I keep on going. If anything, I have learned throughout the materialization of this collection, it is that resiliency, hard work, laughter, and patience are the keys for success. 

Any advice for someone considering applying to be a DEBUT student? DEBUT will certainly be the beginning of materialization of my dream journey, but it will just be only a beginning, because I intend to go as far as I can. Which leads me to close here by saying to anyone reading me with the ambition of being a great fashion designer, DEBUT here at FIDM can also be your beginning if you want to. Do not hesitate…

Thank you for reading my story and my ambitious journey.

Categories:  Fashion Design Professional Studies Alumni Student Transfer Student