There are few things that do not captivate designer Kristian Williams, who finds inspiration in everything from sequins to posters at bus stops.

Artist Kristian Williams is the mind behind Bonita Kaftans, a Brisbane-based clothing label that has risen to popularity in its first two years as a business, captivating customers with a collection of intricately handcrafted wearable art. Kristian metaphorically transports his clients around the world by creating vibrant and striking kaftans.

After Kristian’s first solo art exhibition, Bold and Unbridled in 2015, sold out of 30 pieces in two weeks, he seized the opportunity to expand his career as an artist and fashion designer by launching Bonita Kaftans. “I wanted to come up with an artistic concept that included painting and fashion – something bread and butter career wise. Kaftans seemed to be the perfect idea, because Australian women love them,” said Kristian.

Characterised by their vibrancy and unique textures, the women’s wear is a reflection of Kristian’s own personal aesthetic of lively patterns, motifs and colours from a variety of sources.

“Every collection by Bonita Kaftans focuses on celebrating colour, comfort and glamour. It’s a brand that fuses ethnic, embellished and exotic textiles that celebrate the spectrum and nod to influences from all over the world.”

Kristian’s inspiration comes from far and wide. Whether it’s the artisanal textiles he collects or a passer-by on the street, each piece is the result of multiple influences. “Every bit of my inspiration is derived from personal and cultural histories, colour usage in different cultures, books, magazines, film, art and nature. Even though a major goal was to fill a niche within the kaftan market, at the end of the day our designs are executed to fulfil my own creative pursuits and fantasies.”

The impressive detail and diversity evident in the Bonita Kaftans collection is directly reflected in the creation process behind each piece.

Each garment is crafted from the finest Indian silks and is hand embellished with crystals and rhinestones by talented artisans. “Early on in the piece, I started painting a geometric print on a stretched canvas, keeping in mind that it would need to translate on to fabric. Each handpainted design is then meticulously scanned by a digital print professional, here in Brisbane, Australia.”

After just two years of Bonita Kaftans, Kristian’s horizons are continuing to expand. His pieces have recently been featured in Vogue Arabia and are now being stocked in concept stores in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mykonos in Greece and the Isle of Capri in Italy. Kristian plans to remain local but is placing no limits on how far the brand could reach. His next challenge is to create an exclusive region specific Ramadan Kaftan for clothing company Sauce in Dubai. “The idea is to offer Middle Eastern customers a unique, super contemporary take on the kaftan in true Bonita style,” Kristian says. “I think Bonita’s prints have pushed the boundaries of the regional and global kaftan market because there are very few kaftan brands that use handpainted prints and so much embellishing.”

 

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