By Michael Kachitsa
Quite a lot of Lisa Folawiyo’s collections have been heavily influenced by Nigerian tribes, such as the Yoruba, Igbo and the Fulani. Taking inspiration not only from their modes of dressing but from other facets of their culture from customs and traditions, their ways of life, the language. Her Nigerian and West Indian heritage also influence how she chooses colours in her designs as both are very live spirited cultures.
Having perfected the art of wearing “Ankara” (local West African cloth) through the use of ornate embellishment, Lisa Folawiyo transformed the textile to create a highly covetable print. Garments are handcrafted by expert artisans, a painstaking process taking up to 240 hours. The result has been an international runaway success – Folawiyo’s designs have been shown at New York Fashion Week, and can be admired on celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o and Thandie Newton.
Lisa Folawiyo has a background in law, which she studied at the University of Lagos. Lisa Folawiyo started her label “Jewel by Lisa” in 2005 from her home, with an initial investment of 20 000 Nigerian nairas. She bought 12 yards of fabric and made the first pieces with her mother. She has showrooms in Nigeria and in New York. She incorporates traditional West African textiles such as Ankara with modern tailoring techniques and an emphasis on beading and sequin trim.
Senegalese-American actress Issa Rae has worn her clothing. In 2012 she was featured in Vogue Italia.