The name Cosiba comes from the Republic of Benin and is the day name of a female child born on a Sunday.
The brand has global appeal from UK, and Nigeria to USA with clients including Sheila Ferguson formerly of the Three Degrees and Hollywood actress Indra Ové Kosibah specialises in contemporary and elegant couture bridal, evening and formal day wear using luxurious fabrics and sumptuous embellishments.
You established the brand in 1991 and named the company after your mother, how important is this for you?
From a young age from about six/seven-years-old, I realised that I could draw well and I’d go to weddings with my parents and I’d come back and draw the full bridal train with details, and fortunately for me especially coming from an African background, my parents were supportive of this, certainly my mother who would encourage me and show my work to her friends at work which then lead me to want to do more. When it came to the time for me to come up with a name for my label, which was about 30-years-ago, I realised that I wanted a name that was separate from myself. So my clothes can speak for themselves as I am a private person and I did not want “Yemi couture” or “Osunkoya fashion”. The person that played the most active part that got me to where I was at that time was my mother and I thought that was a good way to pay homage to her.
You completed your studies at the height of the recession in the 90’s what advice would you give a budding designer who is finding it hard during these tough economic times?
They are in a lucky position compared to the last recession because then there was no Internet. That’s the most powerful tool they have now. The first thing they should do is get themselves a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn account, and try to get signed up to a lot of these schemes. The government is keen for people to become self-employed. Soak up as much advice as you can and from a fashion point of view, you have to remember it’s a business and if you’re talented that’s like a bonus but don’t take your eye off the ball that it is a business that you need to try and keep afloat. Now coming back to the Internet - you are able to promote yourself for almost nothing, you can get yourself a good website. It’s actually a time where if you grab the opportunity it’s not actually a disaster.
How many ‘bridezillas’ do you come across in an average month?
My dresses are all bespoke, so it’s not as if I sell it all off the peg so I deal with an average of 25 brides a year and what I say to myself is that I understand the pressures of a typical bride is immense, so whatever any body does to me I do not take it personally because I know that they don’t mean it at me. So I sort of understand the ‘Bridezilla’ enthusiasm and I take it for what it is.
What made you want to feature your designs in Brides of culture?
How important is an event like this to you?
I decided to feature my designs in Brides of Culture because I got to perceive the vision they had for their shows and thought it was a brilliant idea that is needed in a diverse city like London. An event like this is important to me because it gives me another opportunity to show my designs to brides from a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities. As a black man, I'm happy to support what my black sisters are trying to do.
Have you looked into dressing any (gay) men for their commitment ceremonies?
No I don’t do men’s wear at all, early on I realised it wasn’t me, I didn’t get any artistic satisfaction from doing it and I promised myself that I am only going to do what brings me joy rather than doing it just for money. When an impressionable first time bride approaches you, where do you draw your inspirations from to make her dress represent her personally? I ask lots of questions, they may not realise what I’m doing. The main aims of Kosibah is to make the client in front of me look the best that they can from their own natural beauty and the tricks of the trade that I can achieve through my dress. After taking their body type into consideration I’ll ask questions such as where’s your wedding going to be and are there any culture or religious things she has to do. Lots of basic elements help to build up what will be a perfect dress. I also show two or three pieces of my design sketches so they don’t get confused.
What plans are in store for Kosibah during 2012?
I’m doing my first ever samples sale on the 1st of March in a hotel called Park Plaza of bespoke gowns from the past 20 years. They’re all samples from photo shoots and fashion shows that I held onto for sentimental reasons. This is a one off thing, sample dresses sold at reduced prices for a lot of people who wanted to wear Kosibah and could not afford it, and this is an ideal opportunity.
THE LOVE ISSUE: Is it better to love or be loved?
I think it’s better to love, because if you do its more likely that the feeling will be reciprocated and it’s a nice feeling as a human that makes you better. It would be sad to live your life to never have loved.
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