Interview with Lisa Folawiyo, Designer and Creative Director of Lisa Folawiyo Studio.

Lisa shares what she believes her role is in the African fashion industry, some interesting views , great advice for young designers and wise words!

Tell us a bit about where it all started for you? A little on the journey so far in the fashion industry, What made you venture into the world of fashion?

After attaining a law degree and some legal practice with a law firm, I was certain that being a lawyer was not my calling. Call it a natural flair and a sudden rush of passion and interest in the Nigerian fashion scene.

I decided to venture into this wonderful creative realm. With no formal training, in 2005, I started to design.

An immediate need to change the way fashion in Africa was viewed by the rest of the world, I delved into design with the idea of creating original, directional, fresh, modern and wearable womenswear pieces that said more about my own interpretations of what fashion should be.

In doing this, I chose to celebrate the Ankara fabric so loved and worn by many in these parts but yet still disregarded in fashion.

I needed for people to once again not only love but respect the beautiful, colourful, bold prints and chose to retexturize it and change all that it stood for, by intricately hand embellishing it with crystals, brass and sequins.

Something that had never been done or seen before. I saw it become desirable, luxurious, in high demand once again.

What’s your point of view on African fashion?

African fashion or should I say fashion coming from Africa is moving with such intense speed. And on its way to sitting firm on the global fashion map.

There is such great wealth of talented designers making their voices heard through modern, directional, luxurious fashion inspired by our history, culture and tradition, our own personal stories of growing up in Africa.

We also have a global approach to what we create as our minds have been extended beyond even our parts through travel. It is authentic. It is refreshing. It is exciting!

How do you think African Fashion/Creativity should elevate itself into its rightful place on the global stage? What needs to be done?

We carry the burden of a lack of factories limiting local and global distribution.

To be able to increase our numbers, we need more well equipped production factories laden with expertly trained staff to properly handle production lines and quality control.

We have the content. There is garnered attention.

We need to build the trust. The trust that we can deliver when it is demanded and ensure its finished expertly. And for this to happen, we must be confident in our whole production process.

Where do you see African fashion in 5 years?

Hopefully, seen as fashion and not tagged so much ‘African Fashion’. And globally distributed.

How does what you do contribute to the broader ‘African Fashion’ story? What is your role in this?

I believe that as a designer,  I have been very  instrumental in reviving a love for what was deemed traditional and specific by not only the rest of the world but also us Africans…

Taking fabrics, prints and giving new life by attending to them design wise in a refreshing and modern way that ensures global appeal.

With my own personal stories and inspiration, I am able to tell the African narrative in what I create. It is a new narrative… One blended with what is truly African, what it is to me, and it’s worldly influences.

Being able to show on international platforms draws more attention to our fashion space in our continent.

Tell us about your daily style/fashion inspiration

Oh I love fashion absolutely. Not only am I purveyor of it but a consumer. So if i love it, I buy it and I wear it.. lol..On a more serious note, my daily style is quite laid back but with an attention to detail. I love shoes and handbags.. I like to play around with all of this.

Word of advice for everyone who wants to do what you do.

Be passionate, know who you are as a designer (allowing room for evolution every now and then), this is the core of your brand.

Know your weaknesses as designer and/or business owner and find people to fill those gaps.

Build around you a great team, you cannot do it by yourself.

Begin to learn about and understand the business of fashion.

Read, travel.. Social media today allows you to travel without moving so no excuses.

Don’t allow criticism to hold you down, let it be a building and renewing force for you.

What 5 words describe you?

Spiritual, loyal, determined, amiable, cynical (not irrationally though)..

How does Lagos/Nigeria/Africa influence your work ?

I was born in Lagos, I schooled in Lagos, I’ve always lived in Lagos, most of my family is in Lagos.. I work in Lagos.. It is center to my life.. My father is from Ogbomosho, a town in Oyo State, Nigeria, which I frequently visited as a child.. These places and Nigeria as a whole, are a huge part of who I am.. Be it, the culture and tradition, the various tribes and folklore, history, my own personal experiences etc.. All serve as inspiration in one form or the other for most of my collections.

What kind of shoes do you wear, mostly?

Sneakers, mules, slides.. TBH the most comfortable of the bunch.

Are you a lipstick girl? Red or gloss nude?

Dark red/burgundy lipstick for an occasion.. Lipgloss or lip balm for everyday.

Top 3 places to travel to within the continent?

Capetown, Zanzibar, Lagos

Best place/city in Africa you have either visited or wish to visit?

I would love to go to Zanzibar….. I’ve seen beautiful images and have heard so much about it.

What is life like without the internet? (how do you log off)

Boring I would imagine.. love me some google and social media. But then, you do tire of information overload.. I would love to go days or even weeks without social media and be bored.

If you missed Part 1 …where Lisa shares the inspiration and concept behind her new collection shown at Lagos Fashion and Design week 2016  ….keep reading…HERE PART 1

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Photo Credit : SDR PHOTO

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