Before Lisa Folawiyo closed out Lagos Fashion and Design Week, the designer stopped to talk to the LFDW team about the inspiration behind her SS17 collection, the growth of her brand, and what the LFDW platform means to her.
LFDW: There was a gap between AW15 and SS17, what was happening for the brand during that time?
Lisa Folawiyo: We decided that we had to focus on the business side of things, and it was a decision that we had to take because we were working on our Jewel by Lisa collection as well as working on other things like our new J Label collection. The time away was a time for us to look within, refocus, and make plans for the future.
LFDW: How did that time away inspire the SS17 collection, if at all it did?
Lisa Folawiyo: I don’t think it necessarily inspired the creation of the collection, it was more of a recharging of our batteries. We had done a collection in New York several years ago where we used influences from J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere and the photos he used to take of women and men in Ibadan, and I thought it would be nice to revisit that collection in a way. I wanted to work on that aesthetic and create a new interpretation of what that meant to me. For this collection, I focused on a relationship between man and woman and all the emotions one feels in that relationship. I wanted to touch on love, passion, struggle and so on. That is what inspired the prints in this collection. I wanted the prints to tell a story, which is why we have these hearts, that look like flames as well and I wanted them to be entangled. Every piece came from that and we would do things like take a piece from a man’s tuxedo and make that a detail on a woman’s dress and I think it’s really interesting when you explore love and passion in that way.
LFDW: Who is the Lisa Folawiyo woman?
Lisa Folawiyo: She is just a cool girl. Sometimes you don’t even know your cool factor, but the Lisa Folawiyo woman is a woman who knows her style. She is confident as well. We are lovers of prints and embellishments, so the Lisa Folawiyo woman is a woman who is dreamy. She wants to have fun with style, she knows herself, and she wants to explore fashion. To be honest, any woman can come here and become a Lisa Folawiyo woman. There is the jewellete factor in every woman who wears our designs.
LFDW: The Lisa Folawiyo brand resonates with so many people. There are a lot of people who don’t just buy the clothes, they also feel invested in the growth oof the brand. Why do you think that is?
Lisa Folawiyo: I think that women see some sort of truth in the brand. When you identify that this is a brand’s DNA and you see that they know their DNA, you connect with that. There must be a truth to what you do because that’s how people are convinced about the honesty of your brand, and that’s how you as a designer are convinced that you’re doing the right thing and it’s worth your time. So I feel that perhaps over the years, people have come to see that they can trust the Lisa Folawiyo brand. They trust our aesthetic, they trust what we’re about and even though we’re constantly evolving as a brand, there’s a DNA that doesn’t change. Whether it’s in our tailoring, how we embellish, our print choices, or the detail, they’ve come to trust those things and when they wear our pieces, they feel special.
LFDW: Is there anything sentimental about showing at LFDW for you?
Lisa Folawiyo: This is our fashion week. We’ve been on this journey of establishing what our fashion industry is going to look like, and we’re on our way there. I see Omoyemi (Akerele) is really working to create a structured industry that can thrive on its own and I respect LFDW and I respect what she does and I feel like it is the beginning of what is to come. I will always work with LFDW and I will always be on this platform because this is the truth. Omoyemi is extremely dedicated, focused and she has a vision and when I see someone with a vision, I’m going to be on that journey with them. I respect LFDW and I believe it gives designers like myself a great platform to show our work on. I feel like LFDW and Style House Files is working towards a goal and a vision and all things being equal, they will get there and I will get there with them.