FS: Is Yemi the person different from Yemi the Kosibah designer?
YO: I donít think so because I think my designs reflect a little bit of my personality. The sense of structure and control, the desire to make people feel (and look) their best and restrained elegance can both describe my designs as well as myself. I however like to concentrate more on my designs rather than myself personally which is one of the reasons I decided to call my label Kosibah rather than Yemi Osunkoya Couture or something like that. I had also known I wanted to become a designer from such an early age that itís a bit difficult to separate myself from what I do.
FS: Why is bridal wear your focus?
YO: Because of my couture training, the creation of my gowns are quite labour intensive involving hours of work that ends up hidden within the garment unseen but crucial to the fit and control of the garment produced that I am able to achieve and the fact that my designs lend themselves to Special occasion wear, Bridal wear seemed the natural direction to head down to. I was really pleased recently to be selected by the highly respected http://www.confetti.co.uk/
bridal website, to feature as one of The Best of British Couture Designers. (http://www.confetti.co.uk/article/view/7194-8241-0-Confetti_Couture_Designers_Wedding_Dress.do
FS: Your signature is using corsets and drapes in your designs, what made you also focus on this?
YO: My main goal/ end point to my designs has always been the desire to enhance the figure of whomever is wearing my gowns and over the past 18 years I have come to develop and hone certain techniques that achieve this effect and corsetry and draping help to achieve this. I believe every woman, whether she is a standard model size, plus size or stick thin should be able to look great in a bespoke gown and that is what I try to achieve. So, sometimes I minimise certain areas and sometimes I enhance certain areas depending on the figure type I am dealing with at the time. The end result is a client looking in the mirror in a pleasant disbelief of what I have been able to achieve.
FS: What is the inspiration behind the Yemi O collection?
YO: I recently launched the Yemi O by KOSIBAH line of shorter more directional pieces.
The Yemi O by KOSIBAH semi-couture line aims to target the clients that aspire to want couture pieces but cannot afford the cost by giving them an essence of the Kosibah experience with less complicated designs using less expensive fabrics but not compromising on the fit and quality making the garments beautiful yet inexpensive.
FS: When did you first realise that you were very passionate about fashion design?
YO: From quite a very early age I had always been very good at Art in general and drawing in particular. At about the age of 6 Ė 7 I started sketching recreations of whole bridal parties of weddings I had attended with my parents from the Bride through to the flower girls. Later on, I started drawing figures dressed in clothing from my imagination. I was nurtured and encouraged by both my parents and Art teachers for which Iím now extremely grateful.
FS: So your parents were supportive in your career choice then?
YO: Yes they were both supportive, which at that time for Nigerian parents was quite rare and as I said in one of my previous answers, is one of the reasons my label is named after my mother.
FS: How competitive is the fashion world?
YO: Very competitive but I think thatís quite healthy. As a designer, you should have a strong Point of View and Unique Selling Point that sets you apart from other designers. It can be a certain silhouette, technique, choice of fabric etc.
FS: I am an African because......?
YO: I am African because that is the heritage of my parents and their parents before them. My father is Nigerian and my mother is a nationalised Nigerian originally from the Republic of Benin (formally Dahomey).
FS: The African Fashion scene is slowly but surely rising with African fashion designers gaining attention from the rest of the world. What do you think about this?
YO: I think it is fantastic and about time too. African influences have been used by International designers such as Yves St Laurent for decades, so itís quite right that African designers claim their own heritage in terms of fashion influences. Designers such as Deola Segoe from Nigeria and stoned Cherry from South Africa are certainly making their mark internationally and the various Fashion weeks in African countries are helping to promote designers to International Press and Buyers.
FS: If you were not a designer, what else would you have loved to do?
YO: I certainly would have been involved in something Artistic, so perhaps a Fashion Illustrator or Stylist. Iíve never really wanted to do anything else Iím afraid!
FS: Who or what has inspired your life?
YO: From a personal point of view my parents have been a hug of inspiration to me. Their sense of fair play, the wonderful education they gave me and the vision to try to do whatever I wanted to do to the very best of my abilities. From a professional point of view, Iíve been inspired by designers such as Dior (from the 50ís) and Antony Price (from the 70ís) because of the way they took an almost architectural approach to garment construction to produce gowns that almost defied gravity and reality to achieve amazing shapes for their clients.
FS: What are the qualities needed to succeed in life, in your opinion?
YO: The ability to remain focused and determined to succeed and reach your goals despite whatever challenges may come your way, and certainly the will.