His name may not be widely popular, but his outfits stand out from among Nairobi’s notable African fabrics and fashion designers.
Credited with dressing up models, television personalities, celebrities and fashion-savvy folks – Fredrick Ating’a also designs costumes for numerous beauty queens vying for top honours in varied global pageants.
Over the past decade for instance, his outfits graced catwalks at the Miss World, Miss Tourism World, Miss Universe, Miss Earth and Miss Teens World pageant showcases.
The fabrics designer began to stamp his creativity on the fashion scene at turn of the millennium, when he dressed up Miss Kenya 2000 crown contender Lillian Odongo alongside five other contestants.
Ating’a outfits have also been modeled by past beauty queens such as Debra Sinaipei, Vivian Maina, Juliet Achieng, Winnie Omwakwe, Daniella Kimaru and Aqua Bonsu.
Others include Lisa Marie, Anita Maina; Miss Teens 2005 Michelle Adhiambo, Miss Internet 2005 Isabel Kaithuri, and world renowned super model Ajuma Naisenyana.
He met Ajuma for the first time during 2003 Miss Tourism event heats. She went on to bag the Miss Tourism Nairobi Province crown and later emerged third runner ups at the nationals’ level.
“It was at the event’s catwalk that the world acknowledged her innate beauty. The costume I created stirred up rapturous crowd approval but she lost ground on her aptitude”, recalls Ating’a.
His distinctive signature style was also evident on outfits worn by one-time Kenyan boxing queen Conjestina Achieng and Luo benga singer Princess Jully, among other showbiz stars.
And then in 2006, one of the fabric designer’s costumes gained global prominence. The outfit bagged the elusive international accolades for beauty queens representing Kenya at world pageants.
His Kenyan-made, award-winning outfit was declared the most original costume at the Mrs World 2006 event held in St Petersburg, Russia.
Subsequently, Mrs. Kenya, then US-based Caroline Nyambura Verkaik – scooped the third runner up award thanks to her eye-catching, traditional outfit.
This was an honour Ating’a regards as a career milestone. “Although beauty was a key element, contestants also voice diverse opinions regarding the institution of marriage and related current affairs,” he remarks.
Although the designer knew about the Mrs World pageant, he had not tried to find out what the event entails until an evening, when he answered a surprise, phone call from an unknown number.
“Caroline saw my outfits at social gathering in the US. She promptly called upon getting my contact from a fellow Kenyan lady – a regular buyer of my African- patterned dresses whenever visiting Nairobi,” says Ating’a.
“She expressed interest about the traditional designs and suggested I create a similar, unique gown, since she intended to contest for the Mrs. World pageant crown,” he adds.
Subsequent communication led to an agreement and order for him to design several outfits, which after completion would be air freighted.
Upon receipt of package, Caroline was excited and ultimately one of her costumes was declared the best traditional national attire – earning Mrs Kenya the third runner-up position.
Ating’a continues to create and design eye-catching outfits, most of which incorporate African-themed motifs – all tailored for women, children and men on orders.