Ladybrille® Blogazine


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Nigeria/New York's Fashion Designer, Lola Faturoti

Lola Faturoti is a familiar name in the USA and European fashion industries but not among Africans or Africa's Fashion Industry. In 2000, Lola created a buzz when she upstaged Ralph Lauren’s fashion show, at New York Fashion Week, with a show of her own right across the street from his show. Her move got her noticed and profiled in numerous top fashion publications including American Vogue, WWD and the New York Times.

Lola's buzz and quality work also helped get one of her designs to be a permanent fixture at New York's Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute. Nevertheless, despite all of her popularity, Lola experienced difficulties typical of an emerging designer such as no financial backing and an inability to fulfil orders. She took a break from running her fashion business, moved to Italy, and designed, for three years, for other reputable designers. In 2005, Lola returned to the States armed with business skills and improved creativity. Last year, Lola debuted her new collection. This year, she prepares to show her collection during the upcoming New York Fashion Week. In this interview, Lola talks to about some of her experiences in the industry and more importantly, she offers her views on what it takes for African designers to gain recognition in the very competitive USA/European fashion industries... Lola, I am really interested in you letting our readers [k]now who you are?
Faturoti:I basically started designing in 1993. I studied fashion design in London. I was born in London. I moved to Nigeria, to Ondo town [in] Ondo state [Southern part of Nigeria] and I [returned] to London when I was 17. I moved to New York [NY] in the early '90s after studying in London and [in NY], I started working at this store called Charivari, one of the biggest stores. Actually then, it was bigger than Barneys and it was from there that I started basically designing just for myself. [C]ustomers where coming and asking what I was wearing. [C]ustomers like Diana Ross. Just mention it, [and] every celebrity came into that place so that was my big exposure. Hold on a second. How did you [get] that job?
Faturoti: I don’t know how I met Marco. Marco was [the] manager at Charivari. We became really good friends. Prior to that, I was working for Joseph in London. I was working there before moving here [USA] and so I had a very good experience. Working for Joseph in London is a huge thing. I moved here and Marco got me the job and I started working [at Charivari]. Actually, I was very fashionable, very stylish very trendy. [I] would design and wear my things and the customers would ask were they could buy what I was wearing.

Anyway, one day the [vice]- president [Barbara Weiser] of the store asked if I would like to start designing my own line and [display] my first collection and see how it goes. I did that and it was May of 1993.[O]vernight it [became] a different story from there. Every magazine . . . New York times, my first article was New York Times and then all the other magazines came after. Then I did my first show October of that year and that was how I started.. [T]hat is such an amazing story. Now, I understand there is an even more unique story about how you did not necessarily show at the tents in Bryant Park [where NY Fashion Week is usually held] but had a little set up that stole the attention from Ralph Lauren’s show in 2000. Could you tell us more about that?
Faturoti: Yeah. In the past I had lots of fashion shows. Since 1993, I was basically showing till 1996. In 1997, I got tired of fashion. I got tired because if you don’t have an investor in fashion, it is impossible to keep going because you put your money in there and basically money goes very fast in fashion. I got tired of basically working and not really making any money and always looking for money. So, I stopped. I went into [doing bridal] work. Since 1999, was the end of the millennium, I got inspired to do something and from there I designed very strong couture, 9-11 looks, and I exhibited it at the Milk studio in New York. That is one of the city’s very popular studios and basically, all the important people came.

[F]rom there, New York Times did a big story in which they chose 18 of the best designers from the whole world and they asked me if I would like to be a part of it. I was thinking these are young designers but, no. They were nine designers from America and nine from the rest of the world. The nine designers from America were Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, basically all the big designers, eight of them and then me![laughs in excitement]
Faturoti:[Faturoti in an excited voice continues] In Europe, the designers chosen where Comme Des Garcon, Gaultier, Alexander McQueen--nine of the best designers. So this for me was like HUGE. Absolutely.
Faturoti:After all of these and a four page in New York Times where I was opposite Ralph Lauren, [my design] exhibited in Barney’s for two weeks and now it is at the Costume Institutes for one of the best fashions during the millennium. Whoa.
Faturoti: The season after, I [received] sponsorship from Swarovski Crystal for my show. Peter Arnell [advertising guru] and Vogue's Andre Leon Tally were [instrumental] in helping me produce my show at Nobu [Tribeca restaurant in NY]. I got a good write up from Cathy Horn of New York Times. Then, I took a short break and in January/February of 2000 I decided I wanted to show again. I did not have any clothes, I did not have any money. I called my friend in Austria and he lent me some money and I basically did a very strong look of another strong look and this was inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The story was of an African woman who fell in love with a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci and he created the look. The exhibition started with Alek Wek unveiling the pieces which are basically the models and this was the show that I did on the streets in front of Ralph Lauren that everyone was writing about. After the show, I moved to Italy. I lived in Italy for three years working for other designers and I did [some] shows in Italy and made lots of contacts. I moved back [to the States] in 2005 and started designing again last year.TO BE CONTINUED . . .


SET said...


Benin said...


That was such a beautiful interview. It came across nicely and came across so informative.

It's also cool how she was able to reinvent herself, many would have given up in the face of such adversity.

Then how she is making her work relevant both in Africa and Europe is something that I'd say makes her a trailblazer. I look forward to the debut!

Anonymous said...

Ondo Egins! This is really good, i came across her name last year and i searched and searched on the internet to know what happened to her. Glad to know that she is back. I guess i go so interested since i lived in Ondo town and now in the UK. Quite close to the Faturotis, wonder if she went to st louis as well.

Roli Singh Designs said...

According to me "I feel making beautiful clothes is an art and it requires creativity and time, to make somebody look beautiful".

Roli Singh

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