Over the years, the Nigerian fashion scene has witnessed a great transformation with the industry gradually outgrowing its borders and becoming visible internationally. Some designers have been able to distinguish themselves from the pack and have contributed their creative quota to the emerging industry. Few have assumed the role of mentors to up and coming designers, while some have managed to be synonymous with the Nigerian fashion industry. Below are our top five female Nigerian designers who are on this list not only because they are women but due to their positive impact on the industry.
1. Designer: Deola Sagoe
Brand: The House of Deola Sagoe
Deola Sagoe is one of the pioneers in the Nigerian fashion scene, and she has had the privilege of showcasing her collections on famed catwalks at fashion weeks in New York and Milan. The Haute Couture designer is also the daughter of billionaire business man Chief Ade Ojo, and even though her father never wanted her to go into fashion, she has gone on be one of the most respected women in Nigeria today with her brand The House of Deola Sagoe
Over time, her style has evolved from basic African prints and cuts to more artistic and scientific designs, based on organisms like moths, flies and butterflies. According to Deola in her interview with BellaNaija, ‘‘developing my own fabrics is essential for me. Every time you do it, it’s fresh; the drawings, the process of making Adire, starting with indigo and then just making music with colour and patterns, ‘‘Fabric Jazz.’’ At over fifty, she isn’t backing down and has recently added acting to her repertoire with her debut in the Nigerian Independence film October 1 last year.
2. Designer: Folake Folarin Coker
Brand: Tiffany Amber
Folake Coker is the creative director of her brand Tiffany Amber, she has managed to revolutionize the industry with her constant exploration of diverse cultures which she infuses into her collection. Every collection by the acclaimed designer shows her love for intricate embellishments which she uses to produce effortlessly timeless and stylish pieces.
The style of her brand is sophisticated, indulgent and iconic, mixed with prints that represent her African cultural heritage. All her pieces are locally made using the most skilled craftsmen Africa has to offer. She has won numerous awards over the years, and has shown in over 60 fashion events such as Durban Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week.
3. Designer: Lisa Folawiyo
Brand: Lisa Folawiyo, Jewel by Lisa
Founder and creative director of her brands Lisa Folawiyo and Jewel by Lisa, Folawiyo is one of the most celebrated designers in Africa because of her colourful collections that fuse traditional West African fabrics with modern cuts and tailoring, embellished with intricate beading. She started her label in 2005 and has spearheaded the movement of Nigerian designers achieving international recognition.
Lisa’s collections are exclusively crafted from Ankara fabrics; a strong characteristic of West African fashion. Her garments are embellished with sequins, beads, and crystals all sewn by hand in local workshops in Nigeria; she has attributed her success to discovering, sticking with, and perfecting her craft using this unusual aesthetic.
4. Designer: Toluwaloju Olowofoyeku
Brand: Toju Foyeh
Toju as she’s popularly known is the brain behind the womenswear fashion house Toju Foyeh. She is unarguably one of the hottest names in the fashion industry right now. A qualified lawyer by training, she arrived on the scene in 2012. Her quick rise surprised many and didn’t go unnoticed by industry watchers as that same year she won the Future Awards for Designer of the Year.
She credits successful songstress Tiwa Savage for her quick rise in industry, as she designed clothes which Tiwa wore on stage, and as Tiwa’s profile rose so did hers. Toju has had the privilege of several celebrities wearing her designs, which is a successful feat that many designers haven’t had the benefit of experiencing. She is also famous for her trademark jumpsuits.
5. Designer: Lanre Dasilva Ajayi
Age: Mid 30s
Brand: Lanre Dasilva Ajayi
Founder and head designer of her womenswear design label, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi (LDA), is famous for combining patterns, exquisite and traditional fabrics to produce pieces that bridge time. Her modern and cutting edge designs are one of the factors that have made her a fashion favourite among celebrities, and the media in Nigeria. Her style is sophisticated, feminine, bold, and her rich African background serves as a strong inspiration for her collections.
Lanre’s brand has showcased locally in Nigeria and internationally including Lagos Fashion and Design Week, London Fashion Week, and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week among others. LDA has also been featured in various African and international media including L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Black, ARISE Magazine and Daily Mail. Lanre has received numerous accolades and awards for excellence for her contributions to the Nigerian and African fashion industry.
This is all we have for our top 5 list, we hope you enjoyed it, thanks for reading.
Written by Yejide Erogbogbo