Layori on Fame, Fashion, and Music
by Ladun Ogidan
Layori Dada has always been passionate about fashion, music, and the creative arts. She has found a way to express herself through the Layori Collection, her clothing line, as well as through singing. The widely travelled singer, songwriter, and fashion designer uses a combination of different fabric types with African wax print to give uniqueness to each piece. The handmade “rope style” adorning the neckline is the highlight of the garments. In this interview with Omenka, she sheds light on her design process and music.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born in Nigeria, grew up and spent my early years in New York with my family, and later moved back to Nigeria for high school, which I say was the best move my dad ever made. My high school days taught me one of the most important things in life: to be self-reliant. I then moved back abroad (Europe) end of ’95, travelled quite a bit around the world. (I have to say a special thanks ever so often to my dad for making the right decision at the right time in my life and to Tai Solarin, Sheila Solarin and Mayflower School for preparing me for life!)
What’s the story and inspiration behind the Layori Collection?
It started out with me developing and creating a unique style to represent myself as a singer. This style also had to reflect the person I am: a multicultural world citizen who loves elegance and sophisticated style yet is strongly connected to her origin, Nigeria and Africa.
What makes Layori Collection unique from other fashion lines?
Layori Collection was born from the love of music and art. The way the African wax prints are braided/attached and sculptured on every neckline of the garments creates jewellery within the garment itself while achieving a less-is-more effect. Furthermore, Layori’s aim is to find a unique way to flatter women of all skin tones (not only African women), therefore the choices of colour combinations in the garments and the delicate and subtle amount of African prints used in each garment makes it more versatile—wearable from day to evening—while also giving the entire garment a subtle elegant and flattering look.
Take us through your design process.
The masterpiece of my collection is the rope style, which is also the most challenging—and a great example to take you through our design process. We had to create an armour-like piece, showing strength and confidence. Yet it needed to be feminine and flattering to the front and back neckline of every Layori woman. Here are a few steps to give you a small impression: choosing the different types of fabrics that we’ll mix and match; calculating and experimenting with the final length of each braid before it has been braided (since the fabric will reduce in length once hand-braided); understanding the right width of each tubular rope created and the right amount of filling/mould to give the most flattering three-dimensional appearance once braided. Once the three tubes are finalized and braided to create three ropes, the three ropes are then hand-attached to one another every 3cm to create the perfect jewellery piece; the lower part of the rope style, which is made in crepe de Chine silk (bias cut) is then cut and draped, then hand-attached while on the mannequin. The fabric is left draped on a mannequin for approximately two days before it is finally sewn together. The lower part of the garment is then hand-attached to the rope. This process gives each client a unique piece, not only because every piece is different since it is mainly handmade, but also because no colour combination is ever repeated in the same style for another client.
What demographic did you have in mind when you created your line?
Slightly more mature ladies/women, between 30 and 60 years of age.
You are also a talented musician. How has this influenced your collection?
My music influences my collection in every way: the mood, the simplicity, and the free-flowing styles. These all describe my fashion, but also my music.
Has support from the music industry also helped your collection?
Yes, I can say so. When it comes to press and interviews, people love to read about the two artistic sides and how they connect with one another—it says more about the artist. I usually wear my own designs on stage and for interviews, videos, and so on. It is a great platform to expose the brand.
Are there any musicians whose style you’ve always admired?
Sade—she has her own style, and she is always one with it. Michael Jackson, a unique legend with a unique style. I loved the fact that Michael had so much to offer to everyone in the way he styled himself. It was always so extravagant, but it was perfectly coordinated. Almost no one can pull off the combinations he wore, but there was always a piece or two in his combinations that both males and females loved to wear or combine with something different!
What have you learned about fashion and style through the years you’ve been performing?
That fashion and style are really moods. You can always pull them off with the right charisma/attitude.
If you had the opportunity to style any famous person, who would it be and why?
Definitely Charlize Theron. She is effortlessly stunning in everything she wears.
The world is turning its attention to African fashion. What does this mean for the young African designer and how can Africa benefit from this economically?
I believe this a major opportunity for young African designers to not only keep African fashion as a trend but to define it as the new line in fashion that truly completes the word “fashion” itself. The colours of African fabrics are so rich and friendly that they call you to wear them. So if Africa as a whole would take pride in wearing mostly African-inspired fashion, this could really change the economic growth of the fashion industry and the continent itself.
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