Funke Ogunde is the brainchild behind the fab & "phunky" label Phunk Afrique. Based in Nigeria, this lady draws her inspiration from a"woman's" body and you only have to take a look at her pieces to understand that this aim she attains. Her pieces seems to fit and accentuate every curve, the designs are flawless and very elegant and the colours can be bold and uplifting. Here below is her latest collection, ENJOY!
To get hold of her pieces, you can visit her showroon in Lagos:- 23 Bishop Oluwole Street, Vistoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.
Ok, so here is my third post on this designer and I am sure by now you are starting to see my obsession.
I am very much fascinated by his edgy, flamboyant and damn right colourful designs as well as his rebellious "I don't give a damn" attitude which works hand in hand with his creativity.
I finally managed to get an interview from him despite his very busy schedule.
See and read as per below and also check out some of the pics from his spring / summer collection!
FS: Who is Emmy Collins, the person? EC: Emmy Collins is a designer who is out on cutting a niche for himself in the fashion industry. He rebels against most norms that are strictly adhered to in the industry and does so with no apologies. He loves what he does and feels validated by the attention his work attracts. His work is his love, his baby and his passion.
FS: Is there a difference between the person and the designer? If yes, how? EC: Basically my work exemplifies my personality (strong, confident and I like to maintain a bullshit-free zone).
FS: Fashion is.....
EC: A means of letting your personality out, hence the operative word needs to be originality.
FS: Why do you focus on the edgy side of fashion?
EC: I never woke up one morning and decided I was gonna focus on the edgy side. It just comes naturally to me, it is who I am and who I will remain irrespective of what stick I might get along the way.
FS: What is the idea or concept behind Emmy Collins Designs?
EC: There was no planned concept initially. I was just a guy trying to have fun doing what God gave me the talent to do. Having said that I must say that if you mirror into my work you will observe the fusion of funkiness, eclecticism and elegance but it has was never planned, it just occurred and I am loving it.
FS: If you were to choose an individual, be it male or female, African or Western to update their style, who would you choose and why?
EC: I will do you one better and choose a couple, Kanye West and Amber Rose. I am loving them at the moment but I might get bored and move on to someone else. It used to be Andre 3000 of Outcast but he seems to have disappeared from under our radar recently, hasn't he?
FS: How did you become a designer? Did you go to fashion school or did it start from passion? EC: While in school my nickname was "Mr GQ" so fashion has been an immense part of my being and I have been designing my own pieces just to maintain originality. However my label came to be after a chanced meeting with PRINCE (singer, producer and songwriter) in a Bar/Lounge in manhattan, New York. He complimented my style and when I informed him that I designed the piece myself he suggested I may wanna make a career out it.
I do have a diploma in Fashion Businesses Managemnet and I was thought well by the legendary Mr David Jones who once said to me "Education you can acquire but talent you are born with". I never attended a proper fashion school and this used to bother me initially but I have actually managed to turn it into my favour in the sense that I am not structured. I don't know certian rules of the industry and never bothered to know them hence I am not under any pressure to observe them. My passion is massive and it has been propelling ever since I launched my label.
FS: What three things are needed in your opinion to become a badass fashion designer like yourself?
EC: Originality, originality and originality.
FS: If you were not into fashion, what else would you have loved to do?
EC: Become political activist. Would love to piss off the politicians, especially in my homeland Nigeria
FS: Where your parents encouraging of your career choice?
EC: Let me just say they would have been quite more encouraging if I had majored in medicine or something like that but its unimaginable for me to think myself as a doctor or some guy who does 9-5. I am just too rebellious for office politics cos I say it like it is and I kiss no backsides.
FS: What is your opinion on African fashion and the level of creativity emerging from that continent at the moment?
EC: I have witnessed a few talents emerging but not as quick as I would like.I believe I have seen quite a few labels from South Africa which I liked. I was also loving some pieces from some designer named Stoned Cherry, can't remember which country the label is based*(see below). We need to believe that we could be the best in the world and I don't think I get that impression from any industry in Africa be it music, movie or fashion. I think we need to borrow a page from Slum dog millionaire which was an India movie but went ahead to win oscars.
FS: What inspires you?
EC: People I see on the streets of London and dreams. Yeah I am a dreamer!
FS: What is the source of your motivation?
EC: I am self motivated.
FS: What are your goals?
EC: To be one of the greatest designers of our time and when I die I would love the epitaph to read "HERE LIES A MAN WHO STAYED TRUE TO HIS STYLE BELIEVES"
FS: Which other designers do you admire in the fashion world?
EC: Vivienne Westwood, Donatella Versace (She keeps it simple and unbelievably elegant), Tom Ford (I see myself in him cos we both practice what we preach by dressing good ), Stella McCartney (She got some stick initially cos she was a daughter of a Beatles but I quite like her stuff) etc
FS: When is your online store being launched?
EC: Hopefully in a forthnight from now.
FS: Would we be seeing the Emmy Collins stores on our high streets?
EC: At the moment I am talking with a potential investor to make that a reality but in the meantime we are most likely to feature in the London Fashion Week in september and hopefully acquire some new accounts.
FS: How is the flagship store in Lagos doing?
EC: Unfortunately I had to shut down the Flagship store in Nigeria as it was being quite problematic. At end of the day I am a British based designer and I need to solidify my ground over here in the UK and with regards to fashion the action is here really. I will set up an outlet over there at some point in the future but I wouldn't like to be involved in managing it. I don't possess the extra patientce it requires. I am a designer not a retailer
FS: What response have you received from that side of the world?
EC: Oh, I received so much love but of course some individuals felt threathened as would be expected. My fan base is massive over there and that means the world to me considering that I was born there.
FS: What is the best thing about being African in your opinion?
EC: the God given strength to deal with tough challenges.
*Stoned Cherrie is a South African label founded and run by Nkhensani Nkosi, a South African.
This is most definitely the best ever interview I ever conducted. I love Emmy's tone, I love his carefree, straight to the point attitude!
Meet Nneka Onyenakala, the designer behind some very fabulous handmade leather clutch bags with definitely some twists...or three!
I had the chance to speak to this very multitalented young woman and here below is the end product.
Long live Africa!
FS: How did you start making these bags? NO: I own many bags and one day said "I'm gonna make myself a bag". I started off with a scrap piece of leather using my sewing machine at home. Admittedly so my first attempt was a shamble however I was determined to 'get it right' for me so I persevered, sought advise from friends who made their own bags and used sewing machines from people I knew who made bags. A few months ago I bought my own industrial machine, thread, zips, etc and just kept going and here I am!
FS: Did you have to take a bag making course? NO: Not at all! If so I studied at the 'School of Life' lol! I actually have a first degree in Biomedical Science.
FS: What have you been inspired by in your life in general? NO: I'm inspired by the unusual normality of things. In general I'm inspired by un-sung success stories. You know, the people whom have been dealt a difficult hand yet despite it all strive to become a success. The people you never see on the news or in the papers. If you tell me something cannot be done, I'm inspired to do it.
FS: And in your bags? NO: To be honest, it is within my head. I don’t follow a template or look at something and think I want to make that. Usually, if I see something I like then I try to tailor it to what is in my head making it look abstract yet beautiful. ***************************************
FS: Do you make them yourself? NO: I sure do!
FS: What is your signature? NO: Abstract shapes, curves, folds, contrasting yet complimentary colours and textures.
FS: What does Africa mean to you…..(in 4 adjectives) NO: Beautiful, resilient, colourful, creative.
FS: You just launched a website, how hard was that? NO: Launching a website was not particularly difficult for me as I have set up a website before for my photography. The most challenging aspect of launching was in balancing home life and work to sustain a passionate venture such as N'Damus bags.
FS: What response have you gotten from the public? NO: The response I have received has been humbling and overwhelming to say the least. In a matter of weeks I've received personal commission requests from celebrities, peers and the general public which has added to the creative stance of the N'Damus collection. It's amazing to see how people are determined to show the passion for their heritage from the design requests, i.e. National flag designs since launching the 'World-wide clutch' range of N'Damus bags.
FS: Were you surprised? NO: Most definitely. It's one thing to love what you create and another for others to love it.
FS: What do you hope to achieve with your handbag designs? NO: To be recognised world-wide in terms of uniqueness and quality. To get people talking positively about N'Damus.
FS: African designers are slowly emerging from their hiding places, what do you think is the cause of this? NO: I don't believe that African designers are 'slowly' emerging. We've always been here. One of the unfortunate things within the fashion industry seems to be what's 'hot' at the moment, usually not governed by the African designers themselves in the eyes of the mainstream.
FS: Where do you hope to be in 5 years time with N’damus Bags? NO: It would honestly bring me joy to walk down the road and see people clutching onto an item from my N'Damus range. I'd also love to have my goods stocked in local and international shops as well as being featured in magazines, etc. Oh...I will also be sitting on my yacht off the coast of Capri surrounded be those whom have supported me. The N'Damus range is growing. Bags are just the beginning.
FS: How supportive are your family and friends in your creative venture? NO: My family and friends are one of the reasons I continue to believe in myself and the ability and the growth of N'Damus. Their support is second to none to me and they do not tell me what I want to hear but rather what I need to hear to grow, develop and improve.
FS: Would you be moving into anything else or just focusing on handbags? NO: Most definitely. I shall soon launch the N'Damus range of accessories to accompany the bags.
FS: What advice would you give to someone wishing to follow your footsteps? NO: I often read what other entrepreneurs say when asked this question and understand fully their answers. Hard work, passion and belief in yourself first as well as knowing your venture is of paramount importance. Surround yourself with people you can learn from and be prepared to share your learnings and experience. Nothing in life is without challenges but it's important to remember "a challenge is just another achievement waiting to happen".
FS: Financially speaking, how hard is it to turn creativity & passion into a business? NO: This is where planning is important. My father always said 'cut your coat according to your size'. Now is an obviously difficult and financially challenging time to start a business venture however if you have something that people are interested in, that's one step further along the road of financial productivity. It's definitely been challenging especially because I've completed self funding N'Damus. I've learned to cut back on things which are not important to fund right now in order to feed my passion.
FS: What is the best thing of being Nigerian? NO: Knowing that it is in my BLOOD to succeed.
FS: If I were to ask your friends to describe you, what would they say?….in 5 words. NO: Determined, ambitious, business-minded, loyal and feisty.
To get your hands on one of these clutches or to inspire your own, please contact here via her newly launched website: http://www.ndamus.com/
Name: Adama Kargbo Age: 24 years Country: Sierra Leone
Adama is a recent graduate of Parsons school of Design (Paris, France) and she recently returned to her native Sierra Leone from New York to launch her first label; Aschobi Designs.
Her collection gives a modern twist to vintage 1960s African couture. She could have chosen to launch her label anywhere in the world but Adama chose her native Sierra Leone as the birth place of Aschobi Designs because of her unshakeable conviction in the rebirth and redevelopment of this country.
Her collection is a celebration of the career minded African woman who balances family, community and work obligations with grace, elegance and beauty. Here below is a few exerpts from an interview she gave to Ladybrille.
LADYBRILLE.com: You complete your fashion degree at Parsons in Paris and then you decide to move back to Sierra Leone. Why?
Adama: I wanted change, in design, opportunity and what I view as unexplored territory. I was helping to nurture the talents of others whilst mine had become stagnant. I had all this experience in different areas of the fashion industry but nothing that really set me apart from my peers. Right now in NYC, Paris, Milan, London there are millions of recent fashion school graduates that are looking for that opportunity to start their own line or design for big fashion houses like Balenciaga, YSL, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I like competition. I believe it brings out attributes in an individual that one may not even be aware of, but more importantly I like to challenge myself. In this industry from what I have observed 90% of an individual’s success lies on who you know and what opportunities come your way. Hard work and self determination is a must. So I made the decision to move home with all the experiences I had gathered throughout my education and with a dream to start a clothing line that would catapult African Fashion into the mainstream fashion arena.
LADYBRILLE.com: What a busy day! What does the name Aschobi mean?
Adama: ASCHOBI is a play on the spelling of the Yoruba word “Aso ebi”. It is a concept that is practiced throughout the West African region. For any particular event or any particular gathering in which a group of individuals want to be identified as a unit, they will choose to wear the same material sometimes in the same style. [It is done ] to be exclusive but at the same time inclusive.
LADYBRILLE.com: What influences your designs?
Adama: As a designer for an African clothing line, it is safe to say that I am very much influenced by the textiles and different materials I come across. But I would think all designers whether they are fashion designers or architectural designers are greatly influenced by the materials they used. Otherwise my work is influenced by so many different mediums.I am a visual person so anything that I come across in my daily life: a book, hairstyle, jewelry, any particular ethnic group, a movie, song, architecture, historical time periods I can go on. In the case of Aschobi, I find myself constantly asking myself how will the new African woman pull this look or style off? How can she maintain her African lifestyle at a black and white affair without having her outfit look too traditional? This is a concept that influences my work greatly, that my customers feel that they can wear their Aschobi not only in Africa but anywhere in the world and they feel comfortable and confident in it.
LADYBRILLE.com:Describe your clientele. Who is the Aschobi woman?
Adama: The new African woman is the Aschobi woman. She is global, international, intercontinental, socially responsible, fashion conscious and fashion forward. She is a chameleon that can blend into any setting but still leave a mark and this is often because of her choice of dress. She is educated, a professional and is concerned with what happens when tradition meets modernity. She is confident.
LADYBRILLE.com: Where can our readers reach you to purchase your garments?
Adama: We are located at 17 Pademba Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone. We also have a facebook page titled Aschobi Designs. Our website is under construction and will be ready before Christmas. But, you can still visit it to see pictures of various styles and photoshoots we have http://www.aschobishop.com/
We can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LADYBRILLE.com: Where do you see Aschobi in five years?
Adama: In five years I see the Aschobi shop on 17 Pademba Road standing as a landmark in Sierra Leone. I see Aschobi products being carried by major department stores and boutiques through out the Diaspora. I see Aschobi as a household name in the fashion industry on the continent of Africa. I see the Aschobi website as a place where all these things and the Aschobi lifestyle merge and it becomes a place for people to satisfy their craving for all things Aschobi.