• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

DEOLA SAGOE, haute couture fashionista, 26 years of alluring expertise, still counting…

Sagoe3
Deola Sagoe3
Deola Sagoe

If you follow fashion trends in Nigeria, there is no way you wouldn’t have come in contact with the works of my Leading Woman for this week. She is an haute couture fashion designer that hails from Ondo State in Nigeria. A mother of three, who studied at the University of Miami and University of Lagos with a Masters in finance and management. She began designing in 1989 and has gained international notoriety for her lively and colourful designs. She was appointed to represent Nigeria in an international campaign organised by the United Nations World Food Program. The campaign, titled “Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food”, began in Nigeria in April 2006. The campaign’s goal is to raise money towards halving the number of hungry people in the world, particularly children.

She frequently exhibits her couture collection at Cape Town fashion week and has also been an invited guest of New York Fashion Week. She has won the “Africa Designs” and the MNET/ Anglo Gold African designs 2000 awards for which she was nominated by Andre Leon Tally, US Vogue editor. I present to you, The MD/CEO of The House of DEO, the gorgeous, ingenious and exceptional Deola Sagoe. With a line-up of celebrities like Genevieve Nnaji, Ojy Okpe and Nike Oshinowo amongst many others, Deola’s works certainly speaks class! During the 2014 New York fashion week, Deola had her first solo exhibition and the outfits she displayed showed her dynamism and ardour for excellence. Waxing stronger day by day after her commitment to the fashion industry for twenty-six years and still counting, Deola has raised the bar and her creativity has set her apart in so many ways.

I remember clearly, during the launch of Ebonylife TV, she was honoured and celebrated by all but what I am not quick to forget were her beautiful and unique attires worn by the models that walked the run way on that day. Deola brilliantly took us down memory lane, showcasing our rich African heritage, how it was in the 60s, 70s, 80s even till present. The metamorphosis happened right in front of all the guests, many of which could tell the era of the attires. It was an elegant display of creativity at work and we all applauded her for such a fantastic job done with finesse.

My dear friend Nkiru Olumide-Ojo, launched ‘Lighthouse Network’ a while ago and she asked that I anchor the event. Deola was one of the speakers and her story was an inspiration to all. I managed to catch a few minutes to chat with her before the event kicked-off and I must say that she is a woman of purpose, focused on her goals and passionate about women empowerment.

When it was time for her to give her speech, she started by saying she decided to support Nkiru by attending her event because many years ago, she was also supported by Nkiru who didn’t even know her.

It was quite interesting hearing Deola start off her speech from that angle; I love when women help other women in life, it just tells me the sky is big enough for everyone to fly without hitting each other yet, we can all help each other and learn from each other.

Deola is very passionate about women and began her clothing line out of passion for fashion and desire to empower women. In her words, “I started everything because of the love for women and my desire for them to be empowered. Women go through a lot, many are not confident about their frame, their look and many other things so through my clothing line, I love to empower them, teach them what they need to know and groom them to become exceptional in their craft with their own hands.” She reveals.

Setting the pace and being distinct has always been Deola’s forte. It did not begin today but has been the case even while she studied in America. “While in the University, I wanted to be different. I wore my Adire, my tie & dye fabric and also guinea brocade with pride. When asked, I would tell them I am wearing African attires. By the time I left the University of Miami, I graduated without taking any of my clothes with me because they were all taken from me and I am glad I left it with them.” Deola narrates.

Fashion for Deola is beyond the physical. Listen to her tell you more “I cloth women in their mind and not just physically. I love Adire because it has a history and I love to work with that history. I am involved with using Aso-oke to empower women. African women have really been through a lot and it is indeed time to take over.” She says

Yes Deola loves African fabrics but to make it internationally acceptable, she puts a twist to it. Hear her “Over the years, I have had to make my clothes internationally acceptable by mixing native fabrics with foreign silhouette. I love to carry out research on the fabrics I use and also constantly research about the fashion industry as a whole.”

If there is one word Deola emphasises, it is the word-diligence. According to Deola, “You have to be diligent in whatever you do. The works of your hands must speak for you. My entrance into the London Fashion week is a typical example of the works of your hands speaking for you. In life, you must be focused, I did not allow what people thought or said disturb me from doing what my heart agreed with my mind to do. If you do not have the passion for something, it will affect you. God has given you the talent, go and use it.”

“I had my fears but I stilled them. I did so because I needed to move on with my passion. I said to myself, ‘those who have made it and carved a niche for themselves internationally do not have two heads’ God has bestowed upon us all unique gifts. I did not want to impress anyone, I wanted to be a ‘local champion’ and share my rich culture but God had greater and better plans for me.” She says

In closing, Deola again, admonishes “I cannot over emphasize that whatever you know how to do, you must do it well so that when you stand up to speak, people will listen. It has been twenty-six years of God’s blessings, favour and grace in the fashion business and I remain grateful to God for hitherto, He has been good to me. I look forward to more years of creativity, productivity and manifestation of a higher level of God’s wisdom, revealed in my craft”.

Kemi Ajumobi