The biggest part about being a fashion designer that specialises in bespoke or ready-to-wear outfits is bringing those design inspirations and ideas to reality. The entire fashion designing process is hinged on how well your designs turn out.
This week, we spoke with Adepeju Zainab Okunuga of The Oza Woman fashion brand on the process involved in making a dress. To make the interview more relatable, we focused on one of her original pieces – a pink lace and tulle dress.
Adepeju Zainab Okunnuga is a graduate of Babcock University, a chartered accountant, and a fashion designer. Adepeju, who ventured into fashion designing in the year 2012 started The Oza Woman fashion brand out of her passion for fashion.
Oza, which are the initials of its founder’s name, refers to the Optimistic, Zestful and Audacious woman. The bespoke brand aims to help women be themselves and be audacious, challenging the world as she dresses powerfully and beautifully. Hibiscus Apparel is the ready-to-wear sister company of The Oza Woman brand.
What was the Process of Creating the Pink Lace and Tulle Dress Like?
Our production process is one that is very detailed.
The Point of Order
When a client sends us a message that they want to make an outfit, we book them for a consultation session. These sessions are either done in person or online via a video conferencing call depending on the location of the client. At this session, we discuss all the details of the client.
We open a file for the client and start to document all the details of their outfit, their delivery date, fitting dates, and all of that. If we are sourcing fabrics, we source for fabrics and call for the tailor that is in charge of production for that particular type of outfit.
The reason we have tailors that are in charge of certain types of outfit production is that we tend to observe their areas of expertise over time and give them jobs or tasks that are more in that line. This is so that they can contribute their best to the business.
We understand the strengths and weaknesses of our tailors and we tweak them to contribute maximally to the business.
The Making of the Dress
We discuss all the details of that outfit with the tailor, from measurements to lining, padding, and all other things that make up the outfit. After all explanations have been done, someone stays with the tailor, most commonly the creative director, to supervise the cutting of the fabric. This is to make sure they are cutting the desired style of the client.
After cutting the fabric in the desired style, they start to tailor it. For this particular pink lace and tulle dress, after we sourced for the fabric, created the style and settled on the design, we realised the tulle was not enough.
Originally, the design was meant to have just the tulle fabric after the lace fabric stopped below the hips. When we realised the tulle was not going to be enough, we brainstormed and decided to use the lace and tulle interchangeably at the bottom half of the dress.
The pink lace and tulle dress is a corset mono strap bridal gown. The neckline has just lace all around it and the bodice is a corset bodice where we insert the bra cup and boning to give the dress structure. Some plain fabric was also added to the bodice because it was not supposed to be lace alone.
For ruffling the tulle, we used a ruffler foot. which makes the process easier than ruffling manually. Using the ruffler foot, however, does not mean the outfit will automatically be easy. Making the outfit took over 4 days. The ruffles were then put in layer by layer.
Underneath the entire length of the dress is a hard net to give it structure and a lining to protect the skin from the hard net. Final finishing was then done to make the outfit neater and more presentable.
Where do You Draw Inspiration From?
Since the brand is a bespoke brand, most of the clients come with style inspirations of what they want. When they come, we advise them on whether to completely go with the style based on their body size, skin tone, and the occasion the dress will be used for.
For the styles we create, we draw inspiration from other designers. We go online or to Pinterest, check trends and what is available.
Sometimes, I close my eyes and design or I brainstorm with my tailors and come up with new designs regardless of how impossible it seems.
What Factors did You Consider When Making the Dress?
1. The Fabric
The nature of the fabric is important when it comes to designing an outfit. You need to understand how each fabric works so you know the best way to use it.
2. The Client’s Budget
The budget the client has goes a long way in determining the style of the outfit and the fabric and accessories used to create it. Depending on the amount of money the client had budgeted for the outfit, we design.
3. The Occasion
Where does the client want to wear the outfit? What is the occasion? This determines what style to make for the client and what accessories can go on it.
4. The Timeline
Does the client have a flexible or tight deadline? Since every design has a certain amount of time it needs to be worked on for, the timeline the client has is a big factor in determining what dress to make for her.
How do You Decide on the Accessories to use For Each Design?
1. The Fabric
We have to look at the busyness of the fabric. Depending on how busy the fabric is, we decide whether to leave it be or to add something else to enhance its appearance.
2. The Personality of the Client
Once we understand the personality of the client and what they want, we know the right accessories to use on their outfit.
Every client has a different personality. We choose accessories based on the type of person our client is. If the person is a simple person that does not like to have too much going on on their outfit or that just wants us to use their fabric alone for the outfit, we keep it simple.
On the other hand, if the client likes a lot of accessories, bling, and sparkle then we go all out for the person. Making sure the accessories we use enhances the design and beauty fo the fabric.
3. Colours, Quality and Durability
The colour of the accessory is important to us because it must complement the colour of the fabric. The quality and durability of the accessories are also important factors when it comes to choosing which to use on clothes.
Is the accessory one that will last or one that will tarnish and fall off before the dress has been worn for long? We always make sure the accessories we use are durable and will last a long time.
How do You Decide on Fabric Combination?
Our fabric combination depends on the quality and type of fabric we are combining.
As a designer, you have to be creative with your fabric combination. You can combine lace and ankara and it will come out excellent. Fabric combination depends on the vision you have for that fabric.
It is easy to combine things like lace and velvet; lace and tulle or mesh; lace and ankara; ankara and mesh, and so on. There is no limit in fashion, all you need is creativity.
Once you are creative there is no limit to what you can create.
We also look at the style we want to create. Is it a bridal style for a minimalist bride or lace and sparkle bride? So, depending on the client, style and vision you have for the fabric, fabrics can be combined anyhow you wish.
In closing, Adepeju said, “Believe in yourself. Believe that you are creative and confess it. Do not lift other people’s designs, you can draw inspiration from them but do not copy them. Create every day. Go online and look for trends.
“Look for apps that can help you view designs that can help you view your creative side. The more designs you see, the more you take a mental note of each detail. Be consistent and before you know it designing will be a piece of cake for you.”