Nigerian fashion designer Deola Sagoe
Nigerian fashion designer Deola Sagoe believes her country is leading trends on the continent, and will bring that fresh style to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, which starts on October 17, 2012.
The five-day fashion showcase in Johannesburg features some of South Africa's best, alongside haute couturiers from Africa. Sagoe is one such designer and will showcase her collection on Thursday night. She said at the weekend: "Nigeria, and Lagos in particular, is being celebrated internationally as a destination of taste and style of the moment in Africa. It is vibrant and dynamic. Nigerians are early adopters, meaning that we are at the vanguard of embracing new trends and styles from across the globe."
The inspiration for the upcoming range, she said, has been the work of Thomas Fahm, a designer and woman's activist in the late '60s and '70s who made waves internationally. "This collection is called the 'Komole' collection," she said.
"Komole in Yoruba means dance and bend down low [not the drop-it-like-it’s-hot’ type of dance], but a deliberate swaying of the hips in an elegant fashion to the rhythm."
Sagoe, whose fans include superstar model Alek Wek, US actress Anika Noni Rose, musician Nneka, top US journalist Susan Taylor, actress Lydia Hearst, Dawn French and Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage, said her designs were for a kind of woman who can hold her own while "unapologetic of her grandeur".
The collection was a recognition of her country's retro traditional silhouettes for the late '60s and '70s. "It's very evocative of the more risqué Nigerian party wear, worn in an era when Nigeria was booming. "At the time women's roles were being redefined and Africa was making its presence felt globally."
Sagoe said a lot of "lucky and unexpected" events in the late 1980s led to a collaboration with her mother. They put together revolutionary fashion ideas that were lapped up by a crop of Nigerian men and women on the brink of an African renaissance.
The designer is no newcomer to the fashion industry and she has learnt a lot from her 25 years of experience. Sagoe has shown at the New York Fashion Week, Alta Roma in Rome, Alta Moda in Milan, Cape Town Fashion Week, Caribbean Fashion Week and Arise Fashion Week in South Africa.
Sagoe, who also holds a Masters degree in finance and management , said that ideas alone without a proper plan of making fashion designs commercial, were not enough. "No one has respect for a starving artist these days," she said.
ANDREA NAGEL ..timeslive.co.za