The founder of a lux­ury wom­enswear and ac­ces­sories la­bel, Fo­lawiyo nar­rates African sto­ries through mod­ern de­sign and in­no­va­tive prints

Elle Decoration (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

The stylish life of fash­ion de­signer Lisa Fo­lawiyo

When Fo­lawiyo wore the first skirt she’d ever de­signed 14 years ago, she knew that it marked the be­gin­ning of a new jour­ney. Al­though she’d been prac­tis­ing law for a year, her true pas­sion was fash­ion, so she de­cided to start her own la­bel, Jewel by Lisa, in­spired by her Nige­rian roots.

‘My de­sign aes­thetic, which is con­tem­po­rary and fash­ion-for­ward with global ap­peal, is a full em­bod­i­ment of my cul­ture and her­itage,’ says the de­signer, who was born and raised in La­gos. ‘From my in­spi­ra­tion to my fab­ric, to my print de­sign and the adop­tion of tech­niques by lo­cal ar­ti­sans, all of these fac­tors come to­gether in ev­ery col­lec­tion to tell a story about who I am and where I’m from.’

Fo­lawiyo’s early work is char­ac­terised by her in­clu­sion of tra­di­tional Ankara cloth, and she’s cred­ited with hav­ing trans­formed the tex­tile into a glob­ally cov­eted print. Gar­ner­ing at­ten­tion both in Africa and abroad, her cloth­ing earned her the AFI Best De­signer of the Year Award in 2011, a ca­reer high­light that’s led to nu­mer­ous ap­pear­ances in fash­ion weeks world­wide, as well as celebrity clien­tele in­clud­ing Lupita Nyong’o, Lucy Liu, Thandie New­ton and Solange Knowles.

‘Fash­ion de­sign not only al­lows me the free­dom to ex­press my­self, but also gives me the sat­is­fac­tion of cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful pieces worn by women the world over,’ says Fo­lawiyo, who re­cently col­lab­o­rated with GUILD on her own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Isi Agu print, a lion’s head mo­tif com­monly found in Igbo menswear. ‘As a woman in my field, the fact that I’m able to be who I choose to be, as well as in­spire, in­flu­ence and em­power oth­ers, leaves me with an im­mense sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity, hu­mil­ity and grat­i­tude.’ What’s an im­por­tant part of your style? For me, com­fort is key. I be­lieve that you’re only as con­fi­dent as you’re com­fort­able in what­ever you’re wear­ing.

What’s in­spir­ing you right now? Cur­rently, I find my­self tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from na­ture, par­tic­u­larly the flow­ers and trees I most re­mem­ber as a child grow­ing up in La­gos.

Which piece of fur­ni­ture is your favourite? My Ben­son cof­fee ta­ble by Rodolfo Dor­doni for Minotti.

Which African de­signer should ev­ery­one have their eye on? Bunmi Adeyemi. A Nige­rian prod­uct de­signer and founder of Afro­min­ima and The Da Brand, he ex­plores both in­te­rior and jew­ellery de­sign by tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from var­i­ous na­tive tribes in Africa. He’s able to seam­lessly merge de­sign and func­tion­al­ity.

Where’s your dream hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion? St Lu­cia. I re­cently watched a show cen­tred around the is­land in the Caribbean Ocean and thought: ‘OK, I’ve found my next port of call!’ It looked noth­ing short of breath­tak­ing.

Is there an in­te­rior piece that changed your life? My Ligne Roset arm­chairs haven’t changed my life, but they’ve def­i­nitely changed my re­la­tion­ship with TV! I watch much more of it be­cause all I want to do is curl up in them.

from top La­gos; Hud­son arm­chair by Di­dier Gomez for Ligne Roset; Ben­son cof­fee ta­ble; Lisa Fo­lawiyo Spring/Sum­mer 2018; Ademide neck­piece by Afro­min­ima x Adèle Dejak; Bunmi Adeyemi; St Lu­cia.

@lisafo­lawiy­o_s­tu­dio @lisafo­lawiyo lisafo­

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