FabAfriq Magazine

Get Down With Yemi Osunkoya Of Kosibah Couture

As a woman, your wedding day is one of the most remarkable days of your life and everything has to be perfect; the hair, the makeup, the bridal party, the decor, the food and most importantly the dress. As a child, Yemi Osunkoya had an exceptional eye for detail and minutes after attending a wedding with his parents in his homeland of Nigeria, he would sketch the elaborate designs he had seen adorning the bridal party; recreating everything from the bridesmaids’ parasols to the flower girls’ hemlines with the help of only pen and paper. Years later, he turned that talent into a flourishing career in couture.

Even before he launched his line in 1991 he knew it would be named “Kosibah”, a name was given to a baby girl born on a Sunday in the Republic of Benin. Cosibah is also his mother’s name and naming his couture line after her is Yemi’s way of honouring the nourishment and encouragement his parents gave his artistic pursuits. Osunkoya draws inspiration from his international travels as well as many other art forms including ballet and contemporary painting. Spending countless hours studying the work of legends like Dior, Balenciaga, and Givenchy, who knew the foundation of a garment is as important as its exterior inspired him to study the time-honoured art of couture at the Paris Academy of Fashion where he achieved top-tier grades in both men’s and women’s wear.

Actresses, dignitaries, and even royalty have turned to Osunkoya to make the most memorable days of their lives even more magnificent including Lady Janet Boateng, Dianne Abbott MP, Alesha Dixon, Sheila Ferguson, Hollywood actresses Louise Rose and Indra Ové, Miss World Agbani Darego and singers Stephanie Benson and Kelly Rowland. His gowns have been worn to royal balls, state dinners and other courtly occasions. Despite his illustrious clientele, he prides himself on offering superior service to each and every one of his clients. He ensures that they feel involved in the process of creating their couture gown welcoming their input and happily honouring any religious or cultural traditions with respect and consideration. FabAfriq Magazine caught up with the celebrity bridal/ballroom gown designer and he shares his passion, his journey, his future plans and plus tonnes more.

FabAfriq Magazine: Unlike the average kid, you drew sketches of bridal clothes after attending weddings with your parents. What was going through your mind at the time?

Yemi Osunkoya: Being 6/7 years old at that time I really didn’t analyse my thought process. I was good at drawing, fascinated by the anticipation and eventual arrival of the bridal train and drew what I saw afterwards. The sketches were very well received which encouraged me to do more and improve while at it.


FabAfriq Magazine: Was there a defining point in your career that set the Kosibah couture bridal brand on the path of success? If so, what/ when was your big break?

Yemi Osunkoya: The point I realised I was on the path of success was when a client in Los Angeles commissioned her gown from me, flew to London for her fittings and flew me to LA to dress her for her wedding and put me up in a huge suite in a 5 Star hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. The wedding was featured in the US edition of Town & Country magazine.


FabAfriq Magazine: Your bridal signature style is very evocative! Can you tell us more about it?

Yemi Osunkoya: I specialise in figure enhancing classic yet contemporary couture gowns made from scratch for each client. It was very important to me from the beginning to create beautifully, very well made and fitted gowns that would flatter whoever was wearing a Kosibah gown. 


FabAfriq Magazine: What inspired your latest collection “StateSide Collection”?

Yemi Osunkoya:  Having relocated from London to New York (though I return to my London Atelier for client consultations and fittings every 8 weeks) in a move that took me out of my comfort zone, in the same way, I wanted to keep refreshing my design ideas whilst retaining my core aesthetic. The dresses have a softer more ethereal look. I named it the STATESIDE Collection as a nod to them being designed and made here in the USA. 


FabAfriq Magazine: Do you have a personal favourite bridal gown design? If yes, which is it and why?

Yemi Osunkoya: My personal bridal gown design would be a clean unfussy silhouette without lots of ruffles but with clever draftsmanship and couture techniques subtly on display. 


FabAfriq Magazine: How will you describe the Kosibah Osunkoya bride?

Yemi Osunkoya: The Kosibah Bride is a discerning bride who wants a gown made from scratch, has a definite sense of style, values the labour intensive nature of couture and has the budget to pay for it.


FabAfriq Magazine: When you started out in 1991, did you envision your couture line will achieve the heights it has today?

Yemi Osunkoya: To be honest, when I started out I just wanted to make beautiful gowns people would want to wear. I hoped for success but didn’t envisage the success I have today. I don’t take anything for granted and continue to strive to improve all the time.


FabAfriq Magazine: Why is it important for you to be present to dress the bride on her big day after a number of dress fittings prior to that day?

Yemi Osunkoya: After spending months of very hard work, usually involving hand finishing, and the fact that my gowns have a lot of internal fixings that create the silhouette on the outside, I’m happy to be there when the gown is being worn to ensure it’s done in the correct order and when corsetry is involved, laced up efficiently. I also style the gown throughout the day. It gives the bride a huge sense of reassurance and I use the opportunity to take photos of the gown in angles the photographer may not have chosen to do so. 


FabAfriq Magazine: What does Yemi do when he’s not designing?

Yemi Osunkoya: I think the life/work balance is very important, and though I work very hard, I ensure I have quality downtime. I like to exercise, visit galleries and museums and go to the theatre, ballet and opera.

 

FabAfriq Magazine: Finally, as a master in design for the most important day of her life, what advice will you give to a bride-to-be searching for the perfect look? 

Yemi Osunkoya:  My advice would be that she keeps an open mind. She may have a style she’s dreamed of wearing for years or may think a certain style is ‘not her’ or may not fit her body type. You’d be surprised how many brides who’ve tried something they never thought they’d like and fall in love with the style or silhouette. Of course, getting a bespoke dress made is the best options if her budget is up to it, because she can have a style that ticks all the boxes and tweak certain proportions or silhouettes to suit her body shape, size and height perfectly.


FabAfriq Magazine: What are your future plans?

Yemi Osunkoya: My next step is aimed at raising the bar and bringing that commitment to a ready-to-wear collection titled Yemi O. by Kosibah so that every woman can feel like her life is a special occasion. 

Awards/ Recognitions

Diamond Recognition from National Weddings.

International Designer of the Year by City People magazine

Honorary Award for Contributions to Fashion from Fashion Diversity.

Publications

World Bride Magazine, BHF magazine, TW magazine, Lady Brille Magazine, Noir Bride, African Luxury and The Undefeated.

Link up with Yemi OsunkoyaKosibah

US Tel: +1(914)3597757

UK Tel/Whatsapp: +447930407225







 

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