Lisa Folawiyo

BY Anum Bashir

If you’re an ardent surfer of Instagram, then the probability of you encountering the feed of one Ms. Lisa Folawiyo is quite high.

In my 3 years of doing the blog thing, I’ve come across many women wearing many things, but no one quite mixes and matches colors and prints like Lisa. She’s just so damn good at making you want things you never knew you did. 

So, I obviously had to reach out to her for all of us fine folks here in Arabia to get to know this lovable Nigerian fashion maven, and covetable designer better. Oh, that’s right she also has a kickass ready-to-wear label that goes by the name Lisa Folawiyo Studio.

AB: Tell us where you were born, grew up, and are now based?

LF: I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in a little town called Ikeja. But I grew up in Lagos, and had most of my education there with an exception of a few years in one or two other states in Nigeria. Now I share my time Between Lagos and London.

AB: Some of your most profound personality traits?

LF: The older I get, the more introverted I think I am becoming. I prefer now to spend time alone or with really small groups of friends. I am happy to ‘work a room’ when I have to (given what I do especially), but to be honest, I prefer not to. 

AB: Yeah, no I totally get that. I can actually relate. The older I get, there is a sense of mental and emotional equilibrium that I have achieved when you’re simply doing right by you, and not trying to get everyone on your team. It’s this feeling of self worth and comfort I started to experience when I hit 30. So it’s quite recent haha.

LF: yes exactly!

I think I am quite an agreeable person too. I am a procrastinator. Not proud of the fact, but I am. I am also extremely focused when I have a project or any thing of great importance before more. I’ve been told I am not the most sensitive of people.. but I know I am not insensitive. God no! Lol

AB: What makes you laugh?

LF: Modern Family, my husband, and my younger sister. They crack me up!

AB: What got you into fashion? Earliest memories?

LF: I have always flirted with fashion for as long as I can remember. Right from my mother’s style choices for me as a young girl, to discovering, forming and fine tuning my style as I grew up. I believe this was how perhaps a natural interest was created and organically developed into fashion design. I must say at this point, that fashion design was not consciously on my radar until I actually delved into it. And this is after years of legal study and some practice.

AB: Your instagram is a vast vast endless exhibit of the amazing oufits you wear. How do you decide what you’re going to wear each day?

LF: Lol! Thank you! To be honest, I don’t think too deeply about it. BUT, I do dress around perhaps an item of clothing or a pair of shoes or handbag. (I am a sucker for accessories) It makes it easier. Sometimes, it depends on my mood and then of course, the occasion. Mostly though, I really just want to be comfortable.

AB: Oh, I hear you on the comfort thing.  

AB: Currently your favorite designers?

LF: Miuccia Prada, Consuelo Castiglioni of Marni, J. W Anderson is becoming a firm fave. 

AB: How did you start your label? 

LF: After having my first child and leaving my job at a law firm, I started my label in 2005. Even though I had no keen interest beforehand, and no formal training in fashion design, there seemed to be a natural flair and passion to express myself creatively in this way. I began exploring the Ankara fabric which had been for decades, and still is widely popular in West Africa. For me, it was a need to create modern luxurious wearable directional ready-to-wear pieces from this fabric which had had been only used mainly as traditional wear in these parts. A fabric so rich in colour and print (two of my favourite things) needed to be worn in a new way. A way I wanted to wear it. I started out by designing very simple tiered skirts and prom style baby doll and wrap dresses. I also decided to hand embellish the fabric with crystals, beads, sequins and other forms of embellishments. Something that had never been done with this fabric. I needed to do something fresh and brand new and properly fill that gap that I felt was missing in fashion. And because it was just that, the interest it garnered was incredible and I must say I haven’t stopped working since then.

AB: Where do you produce?

LF: I produce in Nigeria.

AB: How was your NY Fashion Week experience? Sharing your collection with everyone?

LF: NYFW was good. SS17 wasn’t my first time showing. It was good to be back, and to see that there is still great interest in the brand. Fingers crossed, it will yield the hopes for results. 

AB: Where do you gather inspiration from?

LF: Oh my inspiration comes from any and everywhere! From exploring my deep rooted culture and tradition, to my travels, to going back to my childhood, to observing street style, to art, to something as random as seeing a print on a t-shirt and designing round that (true story). And sometimes, it could just be me, and what I choose to design that season. 

AB: Who do you picture wearing your clothes?

LF: Dalia Nsouli, Giovanna Battaglia, Leandra Medine, Natasha Goldenberg

AB: What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Last thing at night before you sleep?

LF: I would love to say “pray”, because I should do that before everything else.. But no, I just say the words 'Thank you for a new day Lord’, and then I check my phone. Prayer does come, but a little later. LOL.

I usually fall asleep while watching TV or chatting to my husband. I’ve been told I’ve fallen asleep mid-sentence a few times or with my fingers on the remote control. Take your pick.

AB: Favorite color?

LF: I am a sucker for green. Currently loving yellow too. 

AB: Favorite holiday destination?

LF: It’ll be either Sandy Lane, Barbados or Huvafen Fushi, Maldives. Oooh I do love Dubai and Singapore too.

AB:What’s next for Lisa Folawiyo Studio?

LF: A major focus on spreading our tentacles with regards to global distribution and stockists.

AB: One fun fact about you no one knows?

LF: I love love love to dance! You know when you watch female dancers in music videos killing it! Or all those amazing dance videos on IG. I secretly wish I was one of those dancers. I imagine myself knowing how to expertly do every cool dance step there is out there. Most times I think I can, until I try….Big sigh! 

AB: I think there is a dancer in all of us. The degree to which we can actually do it? Well, that’s up for discussion. Thanks LISA!

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