CLOSE UP: with Top Nigerian Fashion Designer Lanre Dasilva Ajayi - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Thursday, 15 December 2016

CLOSE UP: with Top Nigerian Fashion Designer Lanre Dasilva Ajayi

Only few fashion designers ply their trade at the level Lanre Dasilva Ajayi does. Asked what she can say about the women who wear her designs, she simply replied: “an LDA woman can be described as bold, confident and classy person...” And truly, those are the exact words that absolutely capture Lanre Dasilva Ajayi’s style.

She tells us more in this interview with Paul Ukpabio.   

What do you think influenced the choice of you being a fashion designer today?

I love creativity, and enjoy working with my hands! Whilst living in England, I became more interested in couture and the fascination for garment making became more established!

Tell us about your journey to being a top fashion designer.
On getting to Nigeria, I made a couple of outfits for my friends, and felt the public interest in my designs! I decided to pull resources and develop my passion for fashion further; it was not easy to find dressmakers to make the kind of garments I liked to wear for me then! As known, my style is not ordinary, there always had to be an element of character. It was the beginning of my label, not entirely sure who will be buying, I had to define my target audience, I started with friends and family, gradually word got out there! Fashion definitely has an element of confidence that comes with it, I started off with avant garde pieces and thankful for the feedback I received!

Your educational background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Coventry University and a master’s degree in finance from university of Leicester! At the time of study, I was quite good in mathematics and liked professions that had relations to it. Moreover, I worked briefly in the banking/ financial sector both in the UK and Nigeria.

In what ways would you say that fashion is relevant to today’s woman? 
Today, I will say the average Nigerian woman is more confident to show off an avant garde piece as compared to eight years ago when they were not so sure of themselves as regards fashion! Good news for the fashion industry in Nigeria.

What is your style, what kinds of clothes do you like wearing?

In terms of my early designs, they were conspicuous, avant garde and very much grounded in 1940's English couture. Some of the designs came as a shock to the average Nigerian woman, however there were people that understood my early style and the signature of my label and they have stuck around to see me grow to what it is today.

What is your view about fashion and how do you describe fashion?

At the beginning, the fashion industry was like a new born baby! I had to source for tailors locally, re-educate them and train them as it was difficult for them to understand why I wanted certain patterns in a particular way! Also the media exposure towards fashion had just started, and I thank God for a lot of goodwill from existing clients that helped to spread the word.

Tell us about one or two of your most successful fashion show outings home and abroad.
Every moment in my career has been a milestone for me, all the runway shows both locally and internationally! However, I will like to particularly point out showcasing at the pitti imagine W held in Florence Italy, through style house files, which has led to the LDA brand being the first African fashion label to stock at the Dolce and Gabbanna multi concept store in Milan. It was a definitely a proud moment and very grateful to God for the success!

Tell us about your designs

An LDA woman can be described as bold, confident and classy! I use a lot of colours and being African, you see the blend of my African roots merging with the signature English couture in the garments I create! Like any established fashion designer in the world, I forecast trends based on history and seasons in fashion. My designs evolve continuously as it is important to keep the label fresh and interesting all the time. I work with almost every known fabric, from silks, velvet, lace, wax prints, sheer, aso oke, just name it! That is the power of couture, being able to turn simple fabrics into beautiful creative work.

What can you say about our fashion today?

The fashion industry is growing at a tremendous rate! There had been a lot of support for the designers through the media, the ever faithful clients and definitely individuals and companies that have aided the industry to where it is today like Mr Nduka Obaigbena of This day through the Arise publications and all the international runway shows, Omoyemi Akerele of style house files has helped a lot of designers through the shows and exhibition platforms, Mr kola Karim facilitated the coming of Franca Sozanni and Roberto Cavalli to Nigeria, and so many others.

What fashion accessories like necklaces will you not do without?

The essential items I can't do without are my blackberry, sketchbook, pencil, an oversize leather hand bag, lip gloss, lip stick, a pair of heels and sunglasses.

What do you value most?
I spend a fortune on buying fabrics and trimmings

As a successful lady, do you still find time to do lady’s things like going into the kitchen to cook?
I love cooking for my husband.

All work and no play make jack a dull boy, how do you
relax or take stress off?

My idea of relaxation is spending the day with my husband in a quiet lovely location; do enjoy spas and reading also!

Tell us about some of the places you shop and the peculiar things you like about them.
I love to shop in Italy; I believe Italians have a keen sense of style!

How are you coping with your office pressure and challenges?

I don't see anything as a challenge; I am blessed and grateful to God to be doing what I love most!

How about family?

I am happily married with two children.

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