The twist, the turns of LK Mon Ami’s dramatic pieces
How did you come about your style and the Baileys Collections at the Africa International Fashion Week?
My style is like drama, I like trying to create something that has not been done for some time, I could go back to the 60s and 70s to bring some clues from old designs. It interests me so much when I am able to recreate an old fashion into a modern fashion.
When Baileys’ team contacted me to make the collection for the brand, the first thing that came to my mind was to align the designs with the brand. Then I looked at the Baileys bottle, the brand colours and what they represent, in order to get the stylish designs out.
What is that particular thing you can point to as an inspiration in your designs?
When I looked into different collections including mine, I am inspired by the African women’s head gear, the way they twist their head tie interest me so well thereby giving an insight that I can do something called the twists. So, I came into that design called the twist, then I looked at the Baileys brand colours, the effect of the brand itself because I know Baileys is for classy, silky and chic ladies.
That was how the inspiration to make the Baileys collections came up and we were able to make them in such a way that they reflected the essence of the brand at the Africa International Fashion Week. The collections are basically made of twist dresses and I work with fabrics like taffeta, silk, satin and a little bit of beaded lace. My designs also include, the velvet material and the most amazing of them is the special dress, which really unveiled the look and feel of the brand.
How many collections do you have?
We had about 18 designs, which made up the Baileys Collection to inspire the African International Fashion Week.
So far, what you did for the collection does not seem to be to different from what you have been doing in the past; like you don’t seem to have challenges.
Well, the challenge I mainly had to put the collection together was the short time frame else we would have even done more than we presented on the runway. Time is the major issue we have in our works but we try as much as possible to put in our very best effort. To achieve fabulous collections when it comes to design, it is a lot of work because it involves innovation and creativity. Because of the stylish nature of Baileys, we had to really come up with superb designs and so it was a rigorous process from one sketch to another before we arrived at the fabulous collections you saw on the runway.
The collection was different from the usual routine of putting just fabrics together. The Baileys bottle was a sample to draw the various designs from; I looked at the bottle, the brand, the colours and what they represent in order to get the stylish designs out. That alone was a great challenge but we made it.
Another challenge I go through which I particularly use to criticize myself is getting to understand the silhouette of the African woman. Our silhouette is different from other women in other continents.
The collection are sewn to size and fitted, did you measure the models before you commenced work?
Oh, nothing at all. I practically work with size 6 and size 8, which are fit for all. In the real sense, I have not actually done fitting for any one, I just work with the above sizes and they fit perfectly.
Apart from your work being reflective of the 60s and 70s, is there a particular culture that influences most of your work?
Largely, for my designs, 70 per cent of African culture influences my works while 30 percent is contemporary. But for these collections, I did more of contemporary styling because I wanted fabulous designs that are flowing. The reason being that African fabrics do not have too much of flowing effects in the fabrics. The Baileys’ Collections is actually a showcase of contemporary designs with a blend of African colours and accessories.
How do you update yourself? How do you do your research; because of course, you have to be on top of your game at all times?
Sometimes, I go to shows to see what other people do to know where I belong and to drive towards making better designs. And I also look at the fact that I have my own style, I am different, very different, and so it’s not all the time I draw designs from the catalogues. Most times I get my inspirations as it comes from the fabrics I have in my hand and also from the environment I deal with as well as the people I see. So for the Baileys collections, I was going through African magazines and I saw everybody having headgear so I said there is something particular about this headgear, let me bring out something to design the collections.
Fashion is a revolving cycle which makes it possible for you to revisit past works. I even go back to my own previous works thereby improving on them to fit modern designs. So to criticize myself I look into the styles I’ve made and the mistakes I made in the past. CurrentIy, I look at the African fashion industry to figure out what is really missing and try to improve on them.
In the fashion industry, a lot of people make clothes, but not many of them make fitted clothes. A fitting cloth is that one that the wearer fits into without any previous measurement. Again in my designs, I look at our own kind of silhouette because definitely African has its own silhouette, which guides my designs for the African woman.
You sound like someone from a francophone country
Quite a lot of people say that but I am proudly Nigerian. I was born and bred in Lagos but I am a native of Owoh in Ondo state. My family name is Ojomo and my full name is Larry K Ojomo.
I wish I know your wife to be able to establish how much of your craft reflects within the family. Is your wife also a woman of style?
I don’t have a wife yet but I have a lot of sisters in the family that loves fashion and like my name, LK Mon Ami, it’s a French word meaning ‘my friend’. I have a lot of friends and I get recommendations from them. A couple of my friends are very stylish when it comes to fashion and I also get my inspiration from them.