Global Fashion Bests Speak At The GTBbank Fashion Weekend Masterclasses
Fashion as externally seen by many is a frivolous business that a lot of people perceive not to be as severe as many ventures. This ideology gives zero consideration or thought to the hard work that goes into not just making a beautiful dress, but the financial responsibility that requires a designer to take on while considering a fashion business.
Every year, GTBank organizes its fashion weekend. If there is one thing the weekend packed with, it is knowledge from the yearly masterclasses held by the socially conscious financial organization to enlighten fashion lovers about the industry they’re operating in or aspiring to work.
This 2019, GTBank brought to Lagos some of the biggest names in the global fashion and beauty industry to not just educate the people but to also give them the possible access to these more significant than life personalities who walk at the top of their careers with big names.
On the first day of the masterclass, London based designer and Dior Haute couture trained Huishan Zhang spoke about Celebrating Culture Through Fashion, encouraging the audience to learn to teach the intricacies and uniqueness of their various culture into the fashion they express. According to the Chinese designer, “when you’re thinking about celebrating your culture, fashion is a natural process, and this also exposes people to your culture and hopefully, if they’re curious enough, teach them about your culture”. He went further to talk on building his business in the rise of social media. He said, “consistent conversation through social media has been a great way to build customer loyalty for my brand, and I appreciate and employ that method.”
For a lot of models, walking the runway is a dream come true; they want to strut. According to Adesuwa Aighewi, who spoke on ‘Ruling The Runway,’ modelling shouldn’t be about you or how you want to see yourself, but about ensuring that they have an excellent way to present whatever piece they’re wearing and make it sellable. She points out that “modelling is not about you but about you, it’s about selling”. The international model who was named in the Dazed100, a list of the most influential people shaping culture urged other young models and people in the fashion industry to be intentional and use their voice or whatever ability to create change. “We can make a change in every sector because every sector needs help; from cloth-making to the cameraman, the thing is, we all have to make a change.”
Working on the images of stars like Celine Dion, Beyonce, Zendaya will be no easy task for anyone but celebrity stylist, Law Roach who opened up during his session of the masterclass. ‘Image Architecture’ that styling celebrity comes pretty easy for him because fashion according to him is one thing he knows he’s good at; guess that’s why he’s referred to as “The Image architect”.
In his session at the GTBank Fashion Weekend masterclass, Law Roach talks about the responsibility a stylist has to ensure their clients are well represented. To Law Roach, it is the job of a stylist to ensure their client’s fashion is saying what the clients want it to say. He talks about creating the image for celebrities and the approach he uses in ensuring that every personality he styles is represented.
According to Law Roach, “someone that we know might have a distinct style, so we try to build on that. Some people want to start from ground zero wan5ing something new and fresh, trying to figure out who they are, so whichever one that is, I try to work from that.” Using Celine Dion as a classic example of his style approach, he said; “So everyone has an idea of who Celine is, but I was able to be so close to her to figure out that she’s a fashion girl, she loves it and appreciates it. She wanted to take risks, and I’m glad I was able to allow her to present her outside through fashion.”
With an understanding that there are a huge market and opportunity in the textile and fabric production space of the industry, GTBank spiced up its schedule this year on the second day of the masterclass to present the audience with ‘The Art and Craft of Weaving The Aso-Ofi’ presented by the Ogidi women of Kogi state.
These women were represented by Mrs Agnes Umeche who talked about the process of making a piece of Ofi; from the beginning as cottonseed to the process it’ll go through to become the Ofi it’ll be woven to be. This session was by BigBrother Naija and Nollywood star, Bisola Aiyeola, who made sure the audience engaged throughout the discussion.
Speaking on how lucrative and financially gratifying the creation of Aso-Ofi is, Mrs Agnes, admitted that it is quite a profitable venture but because of how tedious it is, many youths of the present generation might find it hard to engage in such labour. She said; There is a lot of money in this business. If I finish a piece of cotton produce, I can sell it at 20,000 per piece, but the time it takes depends on the time you have to concentrate on a bit. If you have enough time, you can finish a gele and kpele in two weeks, and for the two-piece, I can charge 25,000. Still, a lazy person can not do this work because it is not comfortable to sit in a position from morning till evening and we know most children of this generation won’t want to do that.
Speaking about the ‘Business of Buying Fashion,’ Natalie Kingham took the audience through her journey of fashion retailing, which started in the Sales Department of Joseph Retail Empire, at the age of 20. Since then, she worked her way up the rank, trying her hands-on fields in the fashion industry, from styling, photography down to designing and presently, she is the Buying Director of the online luxury brand, Matches Fashion.
Speaking on if she planned to be where she is in the industry, Natalie Kingham spoke on how she dropped out of school and went straight into the sales department of style. “I just wanted to be in fashion, though, it took me a while for that to happen” Speaking on how social media has influenced the way people receive luxury, Natalie said; “Of course, social media has changed the way people shop and receive luxury. I can remember when Instagram was in its infancy and how those images influenced how fast we want things. You could see things so instantly and want them so instantly, so it did change the way to buy. So you need to be very reactive, you need to know what the customer wants before they even see it and the only way to do that is to monitor your growth.”
Being the hairstylist on all Beyonce’s film Kim Kimble would instead show more on her session ‘Super Tresses, Power Hairstyles For Every Occasion’ as she explained to the audience a practical way to get your curls looking powerful. To Kim Kimble, the natural hair has gone through tremendous evolution where “people have gone through the phase of not being cool with their natural hair to embracing every natural tress they own. In America, women have found cool ways to wear their natural hair, and I like it”. While keeping natural hair is not easy, Kim Kimble advised that “you’ve got to have the right product and knowledge about your hair so you can tackle it with the right product it responds to.”
Having dressed nobilities like The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, former first lady, Michelle Obama, London most celebrated designer Roksanda Ilincic was excited to talk to the audience about ‘Making Elegant and Modest Dresses Feel More Exciting’.
In this session, she opened up that she has always been a firm believer that women do not necessarily have to have to reveal parts of their bodies to look as good as they ought. “I’ve always loved modest fashion, and I also do not believe that women necessarily have to reveal their whole body to say something with their style. Some women love doing that, and I completely encourage them because I understand that we’re all different, but then they’re others that don’t. I feel they’re not many designers wh0o make clothes for people who prefer covering up. So we’re all different, and there should be for everyone.”
Speaking to one of the participants, Wumi Bajepade about the masterclasses, she said “This is my first time of attending the GTBank Fashion Weekend, and the masterclasses have been nothing short of amazing. I’m glad I was able to make it and although I couldn’t attend all the masterclasses, listening to Mrs Agnes Umeche on the art and craft of weaving opened my eyes to more things I can do. It is a great initiative; ensuring people in the industry understand how the industry works by giving us access to these great minds, I’m thrilled I came, and I learnt something.”
By Linda Orajekwe