Modupe speaks about her growing up in Nigeria and her journey to Dubai.
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Her responses to questions were very brief and concise. Obviously, she is more of a woman of actions than words. She talks about her journey into fashion, cultural influence, Nigeria’ great potential in the fashion world and opportunities for aspiring Nigerians in the fashion parlance.
Photo: Modupe Omonze In Dubai
“I grew up in Nigeria with four siblings. My Dad is an engineer and my Mom, an educator. We travelled a lot due to the nature of my father’s job,” she says.
The Journey into Fashion
Fashion for Modupe came as a fine blend of nutured passion, deliberate education and talent.
“I started going for fashion lessons in Nigeria at the age of 13 and later obtained my fashion degree in Trinidad and Tobago at the age of 28,” she says.
Naturally, she ventured into the fashion business after getting married knowing that she could be a “stay home mom" with her baby and still work on her passion at her own pace.
Fashion for Modupe Omonze is also a form of expression and she expresses her realities as one who has traveled a lot in her creations. Of course with her root as a Nigerian as a harmonizer.
“Nigeria has a huge influence in the way I design. We are so culturally diverse," Modupe said, also alluding to the tenacity Nigerians to remain creative even when the odds are stacked against them. “I also appreciate the Emirate Culture because we have a similar story with the middle east nation. You can tell all these from my designs.”
For Modupe who lived some of her childhood days in Surulere, Lagos infusing fashion with the power of culture is more than observing culture from afar. It involves active participation so even the tiny details are not left out and that's what makes her a "culture fusion genious".
“For me, my favorite thing to do is to immerse myself into other people’s cultures," she explains. "I have been fortunate to have lived in a lot of countries and have collaborated with various designers, it broadens my creative spectrum.”
About Runway Dubai Fashion Show
Creativity in fashion without a platform rarely reaches any far. So instead of waiting for someone to give her a platform, Modupe Omonze created one for herself. She founded one of the biggest fashion shows in the United Arab Emirates, the Runway Dubai.
“I started the event the Runway Fashion Show soon after I moved to Dubai. I was quick to realize a gap in the talent industry, especially for homegrown talents, both in fashion designing and aspiring models," the fashionista recounts.
“I launched the multicultural platform in 2013. So far, it has been recognized as the most inspiring fashion event in the UAE and provides an excellent opportunity for fashion talents and brands from around the globe to receive a well‐deserved exposure and recognition for their creativity and serves as a means of identifying, connecting and boosting the growth of the future trendsetters of the fashion design industry in the region.”
Runway Dubai is big, but Modupe's vision is bigger. That means more resources is needed to hit the mark. And she is determined to keep pushing until the dream comes true.
“My greatest challenge is inadequate availability of funds for a broader vision of what the show can become.”
Though she fuses fashion elements from Africa and Arabia smoothly and had began her journey as a fashion designer from Nigeria, it's uneasy discussing disparities in the fashion business between Nigeria and the Emirates.
“It is hard to compare since I have not conducted any fashion business in Nigeria,” she says.
On Nigeria and the prospects of fashion
Drawing from her array of perspectives as a mathematics degree holder and one who has lived in Nigeria,the United Kingdom, the United States, Trinidad & Tobago, Colombia, South America and now Dubai she sees fashion as more than a business of fabrics, thread, needles, artists and models.
“I see fashion pioneering the future of sustainability and environmental activities,” Omonze who began her fashion show biz in tiny Port of Spain.
Analysing her home country's position in the fashion industry in the light of her own global experience, she believes Nigeria is doing excellently in holding its own.
"I think Nigeria’s fashion industry is on a league of its own, we are incredibly competitive, and way on top in the fashion industry,” says Modupe who has practically traveled the world with parents, then with her husband after marriage at 22.
Fashion and the COVID-19
The Nigerian Dubai fashion guru also talked on how the global Covid-19 pandemic has changed things in the international fashion scene. She noted how the pandemic has affected the globe but admitted that things are "creeping back up".
“I feel like most brands have shifted focus, addressing the current situation, and consumers have quickly adapted to the changes,” she observes.
On Cultural Shock and Nigerians’ Views of Dubai
Omonze before in Nigeria
Modupe is not left out of the cultural shock many Nigerians in the diaspora experience on getting to another countries. But the erasure of certain terms from her "dictionary" helped her cope.
“I think words like simplicity left my dictionary when I got here," she says. "In the fashion industry here, if it is not luxurious, it is not happening.”
She then rejected the idea that Dubai is a paradise against the views of some Nigerians at home. She believes that every designer’s creative space is its paradise. Adding that creative person can create paradise on his or her own.
“As a designer, my creative space is my paradise. You can create your paradise anywhere, so I do not agree 100 percent," she says.
On Her Possible Return to Nigeria
She talks about returning to Nigeria soon and contributing to its fashion industry.
“I see myself collaborating with a few designers from Nigeria, and also creating a platform for emerging talents in Nigeria," Modupe reveals.
She ended her discussion with Bada Yusuf Amoo by saying, “I am creating an online hub for fashion solutions. A resourceful place to go, for fashion students and creative entrepreneurs. Look out for it.”