Friday, March 11, 2011

Our very own Vera Wang

Deep in the heart of Camden, on Tuesday 8th March 2011 aka International’s Women’s Day – Star Reps got the opportunity to interview someone who is essentially key to every woman’s special wedding day – He is known as “The African Vera Wang” – the Legendary & Award Wining Yemi Osunkoya of Kosibah Bridal & Evening Wear Couture ahead of his next trip to Nigeria for the Oaken Events Flare Fair  in Eko Hotel Suites, Nigeria where exhibitors who have a zeal for event supplies and planning gather together to showcase their passion. He will presenting and showcasing alongside another Legend, Event Designer Preston Bailey.
With his Ipad in hand showing his designs and sketches and his tall 6ftish figure, Yemi Osunkoya comes from an African Background (Nigeria) and despite him living in the UK for so long, he can still speak his native language “Yoruba”. He is the 3rd child of 4 boys and grew up on the University Campus in Ibadan, Nigeria. He was born to parents who worked in the University college hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria with his dad being a doctor and his mother being a nurse. Whilst growing up, his parents were quite social and this caused him to be exposed to a lot of weddings. From the onset, he pointed out that his parents were quite encouraging and allowed him to nurture his artistic/creative side.
Whilst in Primary school, he realised that this was what he wanted to achieve in life but at this young age he didn’t know how to sew but all he had was his dream and his abitlity to be creative/express himself through his sketches.
He wanted to learn from the best by going to study in Paris – obviously his parents wanted him to get a good degree coming from an african background but they still encouraged him to pursue this passion he had. This was the start of everything – I Guess !!!
He showcased his first exhibition in FESTAC, Lagos in 1982 (where were some of you then?) and this inspired the name of his label. He was very determined to let his clothing line speak for himself so he named this line “KOSIBAH” which was derived from his Mother’s name Cosiba. His Mother originally from Repbulic of Benin was given this name because she was born on a Sunday – so as a tribute/honour to his mother, he felt it befitting to name his clothing line after her.
He realised that he was lucky enough to have parents who not only inspired him but allowed him to fulfill his life-long dream.
Just as things were going well for Yemi Osunkoya, tragedy struck in his family whislt he was in still  in his 2nd year at the  University in Ife, Nigeria whereby his father “the bread-winner” of his family passed on and for a moment there, his dream of going to study in Paris to study fashion et al was non-existent. But, as we all know that when one door closes, another one opens – ther was hope again for Yemi as this came in the form of his Uncle based in the UK who stepped in to finance Yemi’s studies & living expenses in the UK inorder for him to fulfil his potential.THE DREAM IS BACK ON !
With this fantastic opportunity in hand to travel & study in the UK, Yemi was determined to better himself and to make the most of all the opportunites in developing his craft. He learnt how to sew and develop the basic concepts of old school couture design in what was then known as the “Paris Academy School of Fashion” which was based in Oxford Street, Central London. This was the sort of school which was attended by the Upper Class – this obviously unfazed Yemi as he was now more determined than before and stay focused to master all the concepts of couture design in just 9 months.
He did admit in this interview that he didn’t see himself working alone but within a popular fashion house as like many people he made a lot of enquiries with no solid responses – this all changed when the 1st recession hit in the early 1990s. He made a very smart decision to further his craft and decided to go it alone (obviously with no responses from various employers)  and with the keen support of his family. He also made another very smart decision and enrolled on a government sponsored course which highlighted all the key elememnts to being a successful “self-employed” business person. This 6 weeks course taught everything from marketing to PR and accounting which he admits helped him in his foundation whilst setting up his business.

“You can be a brilliant designer but that doesn’t mean you are a brilliant businessman”  -Yemi Osunkoya

Yemi originally started off KOSIBAH on the 1st of September 1991
KOSIBAH will be celebrating 20 years in the bridal & evening wear couture industry in September 2011.
This is definitely a Success and Achievement to what Yemi Osunkoya has done in the industry.
What inspired him to stick to bridal/evening wear?  He realised very quickly that with his background training, casual & menswear would not be vialble for him, so he decided to stick to what he knew best. He feels bridal/evening wear is a constant evolution & the sky is the limit.
Kosibah Bridal wear couture will normally take 6-9 months for a PERFECT finish !
Ladies – this is your cue to plan early !!!
Yemi takes pride into either the subtle or bold intricacies into making the PERFECT bridalwear couture gown and believe it or not, he does enjoy the whole 6-9months process. From the type of bridal venue to decor colours to your personality to eventually your body/ hair and make-up – all these details go into just creating thePERFECT KOSIBAH bridal wear couture gown. He oversees the whole process from start to finish. Now that’s what you call being a Perfcetionist !
Yemi’s clientiele is definitely vast and global from high profile celebrities to ambassadors of various countries to the average person – there’s definitely a Kosibah couture for everyone  as long as you can afford it and it doesn’t matter which social class or status you are – there’s always that level of exclusivity and trust that you will always get from Yemi at Kosibah.
One thing that was definitely gathered from the interview was Yemi’s willingness to stay updated with ever fast-paced social media – he is an avid twitter & facebook fanatic. Technology is constantly evolving – why not seize the opportunity to present yourself in whole new light and find new ways to be more interactive with everyone.
Yemi’s hobbies and interests: TV & Socialising (when he is not making a couture gown)
Yemi’s last films: The King’s Speech & Black Swan (He preferred this because of the costumes – naturally*)
He is definitely “The African Vera Wang” of our time…
We say Congratulations to 20years in the industry !
 KOSIBAH is by appointment only !:
Follow Yemi Osunkoya on twitter: @yemikosibah


Princess Denrele Fayose (nee Sijuwade): Real Bride

Celebrity Alesha Dixon: Real Bride

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