Well we’re definitely closing out the week with a bang!! Known in the fashion world as Kosibah I’ve been such a fan of Yemi Osunkoya’s designs for quite some time now. He knows the body of a woman like no other and his one of a kind designs reflect that! Today Yemi shares his design process, more about how he got started and what he likes to do for fun! What I love most about this interview is how humble he is.
CBB: Tell me more about your business and how you got started? My label is Kosibah and has been trading since 1991. I am a Bespoke Bridal and Eveningwear designer specialising in figure enhancing gowns that shape and flatter the wearer, and with my use of corsetry and structured bodices, I’m able to nip 3” off the waist. I offer a service dedicated to personal attention to detail with an aim to make women look fabulous and confident for an occasion when it’s important for them to feel that way. I ensure the process of having a gown made from scratch at Kosibah, where we specialise in re-creating the classical hour-glass figure, is an experience of luxury, professionalism and a well-chosen investment. My clients tell me that they are left with a memory that transcends the actual amount of time they wear the dress for. I always had a passion for design. As a young child of 6/7 after returning from weddings I attended with my parents, I would sit down and sketch out the entire bridal train I had just seen in very great detail. I was very good at art in general and drawing in particular and this talent was highly encouraged both by my parents and art teachers. Later on, I started sketching out my own original designs. That was the kernel that led me to where I am today.
CBB: What does the name Kosibah mean? It is a derivation of my mother’s name Cosiba. The name Cosiba comes from the Republic of Benin and is the Day Name given to a female child born on a Sunday. However, in deference to the Yoruba tradition of not addressing elders by their first names, Yemi changed the spelling of the company name slightly as a mark of respect. I named my label after my mother because of her unwavering support in my bid to become a designer and I wanted a name that was not my given name.
CBB: Explain what the design process is like for you? I was trained in Old-School Couture techniques therefore I create gowns with an individual client in mind in a process that involves creating an individual Body Block for that client on paper using over 26 precise body measurements, drafting all patterns from that Block, making up a mock version of the gown in muslin or calico (the Toile) to fit onto the client in order to ascertain and correct any technical or aesthetic issues, going back to correct these issues, and creating another Toile to ensure a perfect fit has been achieved and only after these steps developing the pattern for the actual garment. The gown is then cut in the actual fabric chosen and stitched up. The creation of each garment takes hours of painstaking work and involves a lot of hand finished details.
CBB: How soon should a bride contact you for a custom gown? I prefer a lead time of 6 – 9 months, which is usual for couture, but in certain circumstances I can work to a shorter lead time.
CBB: What advice would you give to a bride who is shopping for her dress? My top piece of advice to a bride choosing her dress is to keep an open mind. Trying on styles of dresses different from what you thought would be your ideal choice may bear surprising results. Even if you end up with your original idea, you’ll be reassured you made the right choice.
CBB:What inspires you? I am inspired by the celebration of the female form. I aim to develop the classical hour-glass silhouette for every one of my clients, and achieve that with my corseted gowns with fabulous boned bodices, hand-ruching and draping, that lead the eye to a slim waistline resulting in a structured, yet comfortable gown with the Wow factor. I also sometimes take inspiration from Fabrics and embellishments that then spark off design ideas.
CBB: What’s next for you and your brand? I have mainly concentrated my dealings as a bridal designer to the UK, but I will now be making regular visits to Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja), Ghana (Accra) and the USA (New York) for bridal consultations and fittings by appointment. My gowns will still be bespoke and would therefore require the client to make a trip to the UK for the final fitting and collection of their gown. I have no plans to go into ready to wear. I also intend to develop collaborations with fellow artisans on projects like a shoe range, working with jewellers etc to maximise the ‘one stop shop’ aspect of the experience of coming to Kosibah.
CBB: When you’re not traveling and fitting brides for dresses, what do you in your downtime? I get immense pleasure from reading novels and mostly read them via my Kindle or iPad.
Thank so much to Yemi for stopping by and sharing his expertise! To get in touch with him see below:
Have you ever considered a custom made gown?