British Fashion Designer, Atandjo Francoise Omanga, is the founder of KOYAWO, a UK based womenswear brand specializing in ready-to-wear, couture and made to order fashion.
After graduating from University of Arts London, London College of Fashion, she interned with industry heavyweights, Jil Sanders and Giles (the fashion brand of British Designer Giles Deacon) where she developed her love of couture and learned how to experiment with materials and fabrics.
She launched her own brand in 2013 and continues to develop her signature style and innovate every season. She is one of the designers showing at this year’s Fashions Finest, the platform for UK and international emerging and established designers, taking place during London Fashion Week on 16 & 17 September 2017.
Read her answers to our five quick fire questions:
How did your love of fashion develop?
I come from a family with a strong fashion background. My grandmother, my mother, and my auntie were all seamstresses and dressmakers. So, I grew up surrounded by everything fashion: sewing machines and different types of fabric. I made my first skirt, with my mother’s help, at seven years old by hand. I think I must have annoyed her with my incessant questioning and it was her way to stop me asking too many questions and following her around everywhere in her studio. Her plan failed spectacularly though as I ended up following her into fashion.
How has the fashion industry evolved?
Over the last 20 years, the fashion industry has evolved significantly. Now, retailers are forced to think about the quality, design and the effect on the environment and how to deal with a fast market. Also, today, many consumers want transparency, they want to know where and how their clothes are made and what is the inspiration behind a collection. Social media has opened up the landscape, for better or for worse. A real positive is the accessibility to designers but also for designers to reach out to their customers too.
Where does your inspiration comes from?
As a Congolese-born woman, I draw my inspiration from my childhood memories, conflict, displacement, politics, world issues and my daily life in the UK are big themes for me in my creative process. I’m also inspired by my immediate environment. I am notorious for going around with my mini sketchbook, pencil, and camera. All ready for action in my bag!
Who is your ideal muse?
I don’t have one specific person, but I do create and build a character around each collection. Each collection tells a story.
What are your plans for the future?
First, on my agenda is showcasing with Fashions Finest SS18 during London Fashion Week this September 2017. Then I am planning some collaborations and to find more stockists. I am also considering venturing into accessories, beauty products, and interiors, generally developing the KOYAWO brand. I have a lot of work ahead of me!