From the onset, fashion design has always been of interest to Ladunni Lambo. Knowing this, Lambo pursued the dream aggressively and went ahead to study Fashion Design in Nottingham Trent University.
Following her graduation in 2012, Lambo made a decision to move back to Nigeria and going on to spend a year learning and understanding more of what the industry has to offer, later on showcasing her first ever collection at Lagos Fashion and Design Week in 2013 as part of the Fashion Focus contestants. Moving forward, she stepped back to hone her design skills, spending two years as the head designer for Frankie & Co, an in house brand for Nigerian fashion retail store, Grey Velvet.
When the feeling of readiness came, Lambo finally launch her own brand. She showcased her first official collection A Wife for Nana in 2016, an assemblage that told the story of a young woman’s struggle with accepting her forceful marriage to the the village chief. We the great reception the collection received in the fashion world, Lambo's eponymous brand has grown and now boasts an impressive clientele with the likes of renowned novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has gone on to be featured on influential fashion website, Models.com, and is also stocked at Spanish e-commerce store, La Fenestra. As the brand grows, Ladunni says she'll continue to push her boundaries in creativity, style and innovation, sharing her stories and beliefs through each collection.
In a chat, the designer discusses the brand's relationship with Nigerian culture, her newest offering and more with Globetrotter's Vane Karolle.
The STAR collection by Ladunni Lambo
Vane Karolle: What is the Ladunni brand about?
Ladunni Lambo: Ladunni Lambo is a wearable statement and story, the brand is made to represent women in their strongest and most memorable form. The brand can best be described as an alternative luxury brand, with an evident cultural motif in each collection through the use of Aso Oke (traditionally woven Nigerian fabric).
VK: Do you have a personal style philosophy?
LL: Not particularly, but I do believe you should dress how you feel, and in situations where you can't, have an element of yourself or what you like. We always hear 'you are what you eat', but I also believe, in many occasions, that 'you are what you wear'.
VK: Would you say that your work is a reflection of yourself? Why?
LL: I could say it is a reflection of my thoughts, feelings and imagination. I spend a lot of my time coming up with stories and imagining scenarios, it is very important to me and something I have always done, and now as a designer, I have made it equally important to the brand.
VK: Who does Ladunni design for?
LL: The Ladunni Lambo woman is going through life discovering herself and her strengths, she is a woman who wants to make a difference, be it in her career or the world, a woman of purpose. People will look up to her or she will inspire others through the things she does. Between the ages of 25 to 70, powerful women all over the world can achieve this look, as every single Ladunni Lambo piece makes a statement in its own way.
VK: Your foremost designs saw links to your culture, does this confirm the thought that fashion and culture are connected?
LL: Culture, in many ways, is our identity, but fashion is connected to a lot more than just culture. I believe different elements of life (emotional state, weather, various eras, religion etc.) make fashion design what it is.
VK: As a brand whose collections have fed off of your culture, your work obviously involves classic styles, much loved fabrics- subverting the obvious. How did you develop your unique aesthetic?
LL: I do a lot of mixing and fabric manipulation. Generally, I don't like working with a lot fabric at once, I'm a very strong believer in less is more. Working with less makes me put a lot of thought in what is being designed and push my design boundaries.
VK: Why is it important to understand the past while creating new/original designs?
LL: History always repeats itself, I'm not too hard on myself when it comes to creating new/original designs. Its fantastic when it happens, but in times when it doesn't, I will always add elements to improve on the design or make it my own.
VK: Your latest offering 'Star' seems to have a more European feel, what inspired the progression/shift from traditional inspire silhouettes to a Western one?
LL: 'St*r' was based off a different culture from my own, so its no surprise it had a slightly European feel. I think its good to try out new things, as a new brand still finding it's feet, it's fun trying out different fabrics and silhouettes.
VK: Would you say that your brand has gained some acceptance in the local fashion scene?
LL: So far I think I have been accepted. I have stayed true to myself as a designer and only put out things I want to, if you are unapologetically yourself you will be accepted for who you are.
VK: Hats off on your recent showcase at the LFW. That has put the Ladunni Lambo brand on the international fashion map. Would you say you were well received in London? What's next for the brand?
LL: London was a wonderful experience that I would love to do again, and Ladunni Lambo was well received for a new brand. I can't say I know whats next, with each collection I try to grow the brand in terms or awareness and sales. The general plan for Ladunni Lambo is to go international, I look up to brands like Victoria Beckham and Jason Wu, and would like to get to their level some time in the future. Eventually, the end goal is to provide more fashion/creative jobs and help build and develop the fashion industry in Nigeria.