An interview with Nigerian designer Deola Sagoe about her presentation during New York Fashion Week.
If you were to ask people in the know to name their top fashion designers of African descent, we know for fact that Deola Sagoe would come up. Originally from Nigeria, Sagoe has been in the industry for the past 25 years and keep shining in the international fashion limelight. A true visionary, she stands out with her strong signature designs, elegance and attitude. Last Sunday, Deola Sagoe unveiled new pieces from her Fall/Winter 14 collection in a bright, beautiful set-up at New York Fashion Week. We caught up with her a day prior to the show, during casting, to have a chat with her.
Poundo: What's going on with Deola Sagoe?
Deola: Currently, I'm at New York Fashion Week to do what I know how to do best. I believe that I represent my country, Nigeria, and even the whole of Africa at NYFW.
P: What are you presenting tomorrow?
D: It's interesting, it’s been 25 years this year that I’ve been designing and I'm actually going to be rebranding as Deola, to make [the label] somewhat more personal. Deola is about bringing more of the essence of me into my clothing. Also, we'll be introducing Clan, the brainchild of my three daughters. It’s a beautiful and sophisticated line that's more like a sister line to the Deola. Deola is very high-end, very bespoke; while Clan is more minimalist and appeals more to the day-to-day use. I am also going to be showing my garments that I’ve designed over the 25 years. I’m having a kind of retrospective. On top of that I'll be introducing a line of clothing based on my archive pieces that you’ll be seeing tomorrow — almost like Clan but a remix of those archive pieces. With these last ones, I honestly don’t need to design seriously for the next 30 years. [laughs]
P: Tell us more about Deola.
D: Deola is more available to a larger number of people who love the brand; who want to wear it and make it more accessible. I don’t understand “dumbing down” because it’s not dumbed down, just reinterpreted with different fabrics. Because for one Deola Sagoe piece, one can get at least 10 different variations due to all of the detail and creativity that goes into just one bespoke high-end garment.
P: Who wears Deola Sagoe?
D: Lots of people, from very famous models like Alek Wek to wives of presidents and different people from various walks of life who love the brand and wear it very proudly. The Clan line is very much loved by the younger crowd but then, I would still say that women of 65 years of age love it too because they can always find something to wear. Clan is minimalist but retains the precision, stylishness, sophistication and elegance.
P: How do feel about tomorrow’s presentation?
D: As every designer probably feela, I’m a little anxious. I think to myself: how are people going to respond to this? Will they like it? What are they going to see? Are they going to get the message that I’m trying to pass across to them? How is it going to come out? Even though I've been in the industry for the past 25 years, I don't take it for granted at all that people are just going to fall in love with my work. Because there’s so much more out there now to compare things to but, thank god, until now people still find the brand really relevant. They say: “several steps into the future.” Well, knock on wood, knock everything! [lauhgs] I believe that we’ll able to interest people and, at best, we’ll wow people.
We went to the presentation and were amazed by the staging and the stillness of the models as the audience walked around them to discover, and rediscover, some pieces. It was definitely a success and we realized that Deola's target audience is pretty large. We witnessed a real diversity in the garments presented and understood the designer's commitment to her crowd. Every woman could find something to wear and would feel beautiful in a Deola's piece. Scroll trough our gallery to discover the stunning set-up during New York Fashion Week. If you want to talk about it, tweet @okayafrica with #deolasagoe and #newyorkfashionweek.