By Yetunde Taiwo
Nigerian designer Adefunke Adegboola opened her brand in 2004, then a resident of Chicago. Adefunke moved to Los Angles California in 2006 to develop the brand into something bigger and better. Her fall 2007 collection was showcased at the Miami fashion week and Chicago fashion week respectively in 2007; she is also an associate member of the Gen ART foundation of Los Angeles. From the perfectly sophisticated femininity of the Ella Brown designs, one would never know she had no official formal training before starting the Ella Brown Couture label.Â Adefunke Adegboola trusted her instincts before getting into the fashion business and it all started at a very young age growing up in Nigeria.
The brand flagship showroom is located at the heart of Los Angeles fashion district (California Market Center) at 110 E 9th Street, Suite A387 Los Angeles, CA 90015. EBC creations particularly appeal to women of style who appreciate luxury and tremendous attention to details which are the overriding principles that Adefunke Adegboola condones when approaching her designs.
AThe addition of shoes to the brand was an easy decision. I want the Ella Brown woman to have a complete look. No look is complete without the right shoesY I=m excited about this collectionâ€-Adefunke Adegboola.
Ella Brown CoutureÂ has become one of the well received names in the bridal, cocktail and evening wear market. Exclusive high end retailers around the world, as well as brides turn to the brand for that special moment, be it a walk down the aisle or red carpet. Ms. Adegboola=s (designer & creative director) creations are a true reflection of her design philosophy that combines her appreciation for traditional and classic with the modern fashion twist of today=s stylish woman.
EBC is sold in over 40 select boutiques and bridal galleries in the U.S, Europe and Asia. EBC will be opening a fashion house in Lagos by the Spring of 2010. Adefunke is excited about coming home to showcase her brand. To see the range of the Ella Brown Couture collection, please visit www.ellabrowncouture.com.
What inspiration do you draw from Nigeria for the EBC line?
A lot of hand embroidery and hand beading are fused into Nigerian/African garments in general.Â Growing up, I paid close attention to those details and it=s been at the back of my mind and definitely reflects in my work.
How did you decide on the style and colors of your most recent collection?
I work with color pallets that reflect the current season accordingly. Fall/winter colors are more darker/neutral hues while spring/summer are rainbow colour burst. As for style, I shifted my gear more towards formal/cocktail styles. My recent collection inspiration was drawn from watching the Marie Antoinette movie with lots of delicate beading, rosettes application and baroque feel.
How would you describe the progress of the African couture industry?
Its amazing how far Fashion has come let alone African Fashion. I remember my showing at Miami Fashion week in 2007. There were so many Latin American designers, and I wish we had consistently a world stage to show the talents of African designers, and not simply using African fabric but every kind of style of African designing. The progress of African Couture is simply engaging and it=s about time Africa is recognized for its unique sense of style. We are a color rich and vibrant people and I believe we are finally comfortable with that perspective. I can=t wait to see where we go and to think, we really just started.
African Couture designers seem to have a challenge breaking into the western fashion industry. How can they all collectively break into the world?
Collectively, I believe in other to break into the western world, African designers need to do more self promotions via international trade and fashion shows where all the big buyers, editors and celebrities can notice their creations. it can be a bit pricy but in the long run it is worth every penny. Gearing this way can end up in a big break for African designers.
Your line includes Ready to wear, Bridal, handmade fine jewelry handbags and glasses. What made you come up with all these products as a part of the EBC line?
EBC is a lifestyle! Why not make it a one stop shop! Like I always say, a woman=s look is not complete without the right handbag, jewelry, shoes or sunglasses. Every accessory I design along with my apparel collection complements each other.
Why do you think there seems to be a sudden wave in the past 5 years for Nigeriaâ€™s excitement about High fashion?
I think it=s a new generation of designers who are taking no prisoners. They have a gift and they want to share it. The fact that finally we as Nigerians now appreciate custom made clothing that is Aone of a kind” is because we have finally accepted our lifestyle, our vibrancy, our gift. It’s funny but most of us grew up having custom made clothing from our mothers, or aunts or the tailor down the street. We are finally embracing what is a part of our culture, being unique with designs made just for each bother type. I think it’s a beautiful thing.
Who is your most influential inspiration and why?
My most influential inspiration is definitely my mother. She is such a fashionista and at age 60 I still get inspired from her simplest fashion combinations on a daily basis.
Your Ad campaigns feature various types of models.
What made you decide on this concept?
The fact is the brand is for everywoman in the world so why not use an Asian, African and Caucasian. I sell to boutiques in Japan and that tells me right there Asian women love EBC! I want to be outside the box and appeal to every market.
Do you intend to introduce the brand in Nigeria?
Absolutely yes! Sooner as a matter of fact. I will be launching Face code by EBC cosmetics line in Nigeria next summer and also my footwear line and accessories will be available in Nigeria. It=s going to be a world class shopping experience and I=m going to be in and out of Nigeria in a couple of months to work on the EBCstore…I=m very excited!
Will there be any introduction of Nigeria style fabric to the collection in the near future?
Absolutely. I draw inspirations from things I see every day. African lace makes the best …… I canâ€™t tell you yet. lol I will never rule out using Nigerian/African fabrics.
Nigeria women as you know come in many shapes and sizes. Should we look forward to a line for the curvy woman?
Yes. It=s in the works but for now, once we open ourÂ stores in Nigeria we can certainly have one on one consultations with our prospective clients.
What is the ultimate goal of the EBC brand?
The ultimate goal is to build the brand into a global recognizable brand with chains of flagship stores in Africa, The Americas, Europe and Asia. I=ve had opportunities to open up the EBC brand to the world. From the Moda Accessories show to the MTV gifting event in 2008 andÂ being carried by a chain store in Los Angeles MACY=s (west coast), I=m working on the back end to make certain that Ella Brown Couture has a SOLID reputation and brand recognition.
What should we look forward to in 2010 with EBC?
The new store in Nigeria. The experience for any visiting fashionsita is going to be one of a kind. I=m excited about it. I finally get to come home with a brand. You should certainly always visit the website www.ellabrowncouture.com to see the brand and styles.
The latest Ella Brown Couture Collection was officially launched in the summer This collection explores freshness with lots of details and a modern touch.Â The common thread through the entire collection is the emphasis on the waist, shoulder and dramatic collars with silk piped rosettes, pleated bodice, silk embellished bows on dresses, shoes and clutches, rimmed Swarovski crystal and cabochon embellished pieces. The Fabric choices include silk charmeuse from Brazil, whimsical whipped taffeta and beaded silk chiffon. The line has also included couture style shoes to its collection. Endowed with stones and Swarovski crystals, the shoes have received welcoming reviews from the EBC buyers.