Saturday, January 14

As a designer, my biggest challenge drives my creativity –Lanre Da Silva Ajayi

Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, the creative director of LDA label is an A-list Nigerian fashion designer whose fame spreads across Nigeria and beyond.

Lanre has participated in top fashion shows and her label is a delight to any fashion-loving and successful women. Calm, accommodating with no airs around her, Lanre spoke with Effects about her journey into the fashion world and lots more.

What do you have in store for 2017?
The brand ‎has loads of exciting plans for 2017. They are yet to be revealed! Just wait and see..

What are challenges of a typical Nigerian fashion designer?
Possibly, the biggest challenge of a fashion designer is what drives my creativity, zeal and passion to thrive, succeed, and achieve. I love my job but like any other job, it has its ups and downs. Some of the challenges of the fashion industry are lack of power, and infrastructure. These make working conditions unbearable at times with overheads on the high. On a positive note, the fashion industry is developing rapidly, into a lucrative business venture.

When did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Upon the completion of my first degree in Business Administration from Coventry University and a Masters in Finance from Leicester University in UK. I moved back home and applied for work in various banks and institutions. During the waiting period, I decided to get busy by doing what I was passionate about. While, in London, I developed  passion for Vintage Couture from shopping spots like Portobello market, London Vintage Fashion Textile and Accessories Fair at Hammersmith Town Hall. I started by making clothes for myself, my family, and close friends. I got positive feedbacks from different people and that stirred me up to begin a career in Fashion.

If not a fashion Designer, what would you have been?
Perhaps, a banker.

What is the toughest thing you had to do as a designer?
I am an extremely hard-working individual and there is nothing too much or too hard for me to do in order to ensure my customers are satisfied and happy.

Generally, what has life taught you as a person?
I believe patience, endurance, self-control, humility, kindness are virtues an individual must possess.

What makes LDA brand Stand out?
The LDA brand is distinguished from the rest for its creative, distinctive style, boldness, elegance, sophistication and beauty.

Tell us the secret of your beauty?
I use Argan Oil on my face. The oil is light-weight and absorbs fast. It keeps my face refreshed, soft, and hydrated.

What is your personal style?
My personal style is unique, elegant, bold and beautiful.
What influences your creativity?
Inspiration comes to me naturally. I get inspired  by virtually everything around me; from watching fashion shows on TV and looking through the magazines. Seeing what is trending in the fashion world fuels my creativity. I get the urge to create something new and different.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with VLISCO ?
When Vlisco asked me to design a dress, I was flattered and excited in equal measure. I’ve always loved Vlisco fabrics. I love how they pay homage to African arts particularly and the fact that they are an authentic Dutch Wax brand; the original Wax Hollandais.
Specially, I designed two dresses for them; a campaign dress and a dress for the winner of the Vlisco Limited Edition promotion. The campaign dress was an elaborate long evening dress, while the other one was a mid-length dress, perfect for a festive occasion. I designed the dresses in Lagos and the campaign shoot took place in Antwerp (Belgium).

What was the ‘breakthrough moment’ that you felt, raised your profile in the fashion world?
I believe I have had several breakthrough moments through close friends like Tundun Abiola who championed my designs  and Omoyemi Akerele, the True Tales Fashion Editor who did a massive spread in the magazine on my designs.There was the Arise Fashion events in Cannes, France in 2006, the Africa Rising Festival, London in 2008, followed by Arise Africa Fashion Festival South Africa in June 2009. There was also the Arise Magazine Fashion Week, Lagos in March 2011, followed by the Arise Fashion Collective in New York in September 2011 where my designs drew world attention, courtesy of the publisher of ThisDay Newspaper,  Nduka Obaigbena. At that event, I showcased a collection that depicted the new and rebranded LDA. The “Labour of Love” collection received rave reviews from fashion lovers and the media and a lot of people began to see me and my brand in a different way. I’ve also received tremendous support from a lot of people over the years.

How do you unwind?
I go to the Spa to relax and spend quality time with my family.

What advice do you have for young women itching for a career in fashion designing?
I advise upcoming designers to exercise a great deal of patience be persistent and extremely hardworking. I also tell them never  to give up on their challenges as success is not achieved in a day but over time.

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