By Yemisi Suleiman
Sola Oyebade, also known as Mr Mahogany is the creative director of Africa Fashion week London (AFWL) and Africa Fashion week Nigeria (AFWN). As the fifth edition of the AFWL draws nearer, Sola speaks on expectations for the forthcoming AFWL 2015, billed to hold from 7- 8th of August at Olympia West Hall, London.
As the creative directive, could you tell us what to expect at this year AFWL?
This is the fifth year anniversary so it’s going to be a big show and this is the second year we are using the Olympia, which is very good for us. It’s a fantastic venue. This year we are changing the format, we have enclosed the runway this time and the exhibition will be surrounding it.
This year we have more designers, about 68 designers for two days. We have six shows, t hree shows from each day For the Gala show, we are going to have 15 designers, it is a lot of work but we will make it work.
What are the criteria for selecting models?
We are still going through the process of selecting models. We have thousands of models from all over the world that wants to do Africa fashion week London. The amazing thing is that, a lot of these models are ready to pay their own transportation and accommodation cost, just to do the show.
We have so many applications more than what we bargained for, for instance, you want only 50 models and you have over 3,000 models applying, that is the situation we are in now. I want internationally standard models, that means for the women they are going to be 5’9 and above and for the men 6’4 and above.
I want something different in terms of their looks, I just don’t up standard and what we are trying to do is to give a variety of looks an advantage. We are going to have light skinned models, the very dark skin, maybe bald headed, some with wigs, different varieties of looks and not just from Nigeria, Africa or Carrieabean, white models, Asians. I think Africa is made up of all nationalities not just made up of dark skinned Africa.
We want it to be our best show ever. I am behind the scene, so I am more concerned with the creative look , making sure the hair is right, makeup is fantastic, the clothes you are putting on the catwalk is great. I am looking at the quality of the stitches, the quality of the work; we want something up to standard internationally.
Challenges on the job?
The biggest challenge we are going to have is the number of designers that we have lined up for the show now. As I always say to the team, 68 designers is much for two days. Even London fashion week that is done over five days only have a total of 50 designers scattered across the five days. Putting up the event is amazing.
The cost is huge especially when you are doing it abroad; it involves thousands of pounds to put up such events. The staff crew over the days are over 150-200 people. Back stage staff, front of house staff, Models, technical staff, designers, you got to feed them and make sure their well being is taken care of, especially in UK where there is lots of legislation on what you can and what you can’t do.
What inspires you on this job?
I have been doing it a long time, 25 years. I started as a model; I have never been a designer. I became a show producer running my own event company. London fashion w eek, New York fashion week, Glasgow fashion week, I can just give you endless list.
For me, my joy comes after the show, from feedback, when people say whether it’s a good or bad show. If I get the comment it’s a good show I feel great. But if it’s bad, it affects me.