By Florence Kyohangirwe (Kakatshozi)

We wait, mouths agape, sweaty palmed, looking forward to his event and award looks every time there’s any to be found. Every event, at every red carpet, he sends about decadent surprises and scandalous shocks in equal measure. Some call him crazy, others, an attention seeker and some simply admire the swag and the rebel spirit it takes to step out with such perpetual fierceness. Who is he? Meet Emolsa- a self-styled bohemian fashionista and renegade, whose thought- provoking sense in the style of the avante-garde  dismantles conventional fashion ideals and challenges the very status quo by advocating for change in the social norms and constructs of ‘allowable’ surrounding African society. He always knew that he would be in the fashion game and holds the belief that his passion is growing exponentially faster than even he can keep step with. As he was growing up, he was like every kid in the neighborhood and preferred to roam around naked or in underwear, his adolescence however took a sudden drastically different turn.

“I grew a keen interest in dressing up differently in my teens, once like a Scottish man, other times in my Dad’s clothes while he was away on safaris, and often times in my DIY favorite childhood super hero costumes such as Power Rangers.” Emolsa borrowed from everywhere that could influence him, soaking up ideas and churning out fashion choices saying of his early delving into eclecticism, “I never thought at that time, that all that was pointing me into the direction of a fashion rebel.” By that early measure, it isn’t shocking that among his biggest inspirations are the legendary couturier Alexander McQueen, the revelatory self-spectacles of Lady Gaga and the outlandish South African fusion group (and icons of the bizarre) Die Antwood. Besides rocking statement outfits on red carpets, Emolsa is busy making up some of the most daring looks you have seen on celebrities and models splashing his influence across runways and magazine spreads while guiding his creative agency “Emolsam DNA” which he co-founded with his friend Sam.

His style warranted questions for his penchant for wearing the bizarre, but Emolsa simply reflects on his fashion numbers, “I love being myself and that’s the message I preach to the world: be and do you! Besides that, I use my fashion to pass on a message that is in most cases advocating for change in the different aspects of life in our African setting. All my outfits are specifically assembled to speak a certain message during the different events; from highlights of mental slavery to joblessness to male feminism.” Fuck criticism, it remains the least of his worries but rather elevates his confidence. “As long as they are still looking out for my next appearance, it instead boasts my confidence a lot more,” Emolsa continues, “Fashion is an avenue of personality expression and different people have different personalities that call for different fashion statement.

Unfortunately, the prevailing standards on dress code cannot let many people be, do or dress the way they really want and feel because of the fear to be criticized, in the end,  many die when they never really truly dressed as they would have wanted, or truly been themselves at all. I think there shouldn’t be stereotypical standards at all as regards to fashion.” His outfits have made highlights as he has come to expect since his rise to the top of the heap of Uganda’s fashion outlaws, “the top highlight of all time is the 2018 cage outfit I wore to the ASFAs because it broke the internet in Africa, far wide and beyond. My low light outfit was the denim on denim ensemble that I wore to an event. The public loved it because at least it was more wearable yet I need people to love my fashion for the message it preaches not because they can see themselves wearing it.”

You may wonder how long it takes to come up with these outfits, but as with many things with Emolsa, it all comes down to how inspiration strikes. “It’s entirely dependent on the sophistication involved, if it requires more time I commence working on an outfit as early as three months prior or as late as twenty mines to the event, that’s if my creative juices are flowing super-fast.” Many young people traversing the modern minefield of social media who may aspire to explore fashion the way Emolsa does may become victims of cyber bullying that may result into depression or far worse.  From the man who’s been the lightning rod himself, some words of advice: “Young people can be anything, provided they RESPONSIBLY do what and be who they want. They will be criticized, but should learn how to numb and cope with being at the center of criticism, it’s the only way to change people’s thinking.”  

So what can Ugandans take from his fashion? “Ugandans from all walks of life, should learn to be authentic, stop plagiarism and explore their untapped full potential.” One major aspiration of his, Emolsa hopes his fashion goes beyond borders and can continue to inspire outlandish African swag in the region and beyond, “One thing for sure is that fashion is my calling and am not ever quitting, many things are morphing out along the way but keep your eyes on me and let’s meet at the top. My dream is to be a global fashion legend who inspires, empowers and spreads a forceful movement of undeniable and unapologetic humans in relation to being true to oneself, especially in Africa without being self-conscious.”

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