Essence Magazine recently featured an interview with Nigerian designer, Deola Sagoe. Here are some interview excerpts:
ESSENCE.com: You’ve become very well known among African fashion enthusiasts. How do you feel about that success?
DEOLA SAGOE: From the start I always wanted to represent the African woman in terms anybody anywhere would describe as beautiful. I’m Nigerian, I grew up with a lot of natural beauty around me, just here and there without pretension. I was amazed by the beauty of the women I grew up with and the way they embodied my culture. This is perhaps the ultimate success of my brand – that we have been able to give the African woman, and more widely the black woman, her own pedestal where she stands in all her beauty and is admired the world over.
After two decades of being in business, what defines my success is that I fused my cultural heritage with an intrinsic sense of beauty and came up with designs that contributed to the fashion dialogue. My designs were chosen, they were recognized and have stood the test of time, lately we have been reaching an ever-wider audience and this itself is success…
ESSENCE.com: As an African designer, you are always seen is a representative of [the] continent. Is that how you wish to be seen, or as a designer with her own unique worldview?
DEOLA : Every true designer I know has his or her own deeply held point of view. This is usually fashioned by their environment and concerns, but also from that uniqueness that comes from within you, and as such is not defined by geography or location. I’m black, I’m a Nigerian, and I’m a woman – guess it’s no surprise that you’re going to see that in my work no more than if I was Japanese or Dutch.
ESSENCE.com: So you seek to strictly represent your homeland?
DEOLA: I would like to think I represent an Africa that is still yet to be fully appreciated, an Africa that is not just one homogenous blob but a rich continent of diversity and expression. African cultures are so fluid by the way, it’s mixes of European, British, French, Portuguese from our colonial past and American coming in from modern day enterprise and international business. If there’s a mixing pot somewhere on this Earth it’s got to be Africa that’s why things are often very rich here.