Ahead of African Fashion Week Nigeria 2018, the AFWN team profiles Lilian Ifeyinwa Ndukwu, Creative Director, Lilifeys’ Fashion a bespoke and ready-to-wear womenswear brand founded in Lagos, Nigeria.

Lilian Ifeyinwa Ndukwu

The brand achieves her aesthetics by a seamless fusion of African cultural heritage and Western culture to appeal to a global market. Founded by Lilian Ifeyinwa Ndukwu, the brand name is a combination of her names.

What inspired your fashion journey?
My early childhood passion for my baby doll dresses and the curiosity on how to make such tiny little dresses really influenced and triggered my fashion journey.

Tell us more about the brand
We aim to seasonally roll out collections and designs that are carefully crafted with detailed finishing that fits all types of feminine silhouettes using bold African prints, colours and well-textured fabrics to make every Liliife woman look like a queen. The Brand’s pieces reflect elegance, style, royalty, and comfort for the stylish, trendy and confident woman. Our core value is detailed attention to fabric selection, perfection, quality and fitting. We target educated, female urban high profile clients, who want to be stylish, trendy, and comfortable, with a feel of royalty irrespective of their body shapes.

What was your first ever fashion creation, what inspired it? Did you like it?
Hmmm…. my first ever fashion creation was way back in my secondary school, after having sewed dresses for my baby dolls for years, I decided to sew a dress for myself. It was a full-length dress with a fullness gathering at the hip. Back then I used to sew with needle and thread (handmade). It was inspired by nature, the fullness of the vegetation around my village community. I loved the dress so much; it was like a breakthrough for me, a great feat indeed! Many people complimented on the beauty of the dress and that really boosted my confidence to design and sew clothes for others later.

What has been your challenge as a designer in Africa?
Africa as a continent has diverse challenges, and each African country has her own peculiar challenges. Personally, as a Nigerian designer, my challenges are replete with Nigeria’s general challenges. First, on the list my challenges in Naija (local parlance) for Nigeria, is the epileptic power supply, this really affects production and is the major factor of high production rate which affects profitability here as compared to other nations. Secondly, the shortage of skilled manpower. Most of the workers I use are imported from neighbouring African countries which at the end of the day adds to the high cost of production.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is an art. Fashion is a way of life that is generally accepted by the larger society. Fashion is style, the overall concept of how, and what I decide to put together to achieve a preconceived effect. For instance, I might decide to make my long dress shorter by using a sash or belt to tie around my waist and pull it up and make some gathering around the mid-region ….viola, I have a shorter dress. Fashion means creativity to me!

Most unforgettable experience as a designer
I started my fashion designing journey as a self-taught designer and this comes with some element of mediocrity which manifested some time ago when I designed a separates for one of my friends. When she had her fittings, the top had a problem at the back, I tried all I could but could not correct the error. I felt really bad because my friend wanted to wear the outfit badly…. Right there on the spot, I decided I must enrol in a professional fashion academy. That was how I ended up in Zaris Fashion Academy. It was really an unforgettable experience for me.

Tell us about the collection you intend to showcase on AFWN runway
The collection I intend to showcase at African Fashion Week Nigeria is inspired by ROYALTY, reflecting the Brand’s tagline; Lilifeys’ – Enhancing lifestyle. Our ultimate goal is to make the Lilifeys’ woman feel like a queen in their outfits irrespective of their body shapes. Every piece in the collection evokes luxury, opulence, style, classic and comfort. It’s a collection every woman who desires to spoil herself and feel like a royalty will like to own a piece. The collection is a celebration of the African woman as a royalty through our African heritage in fashion evolution.

What are you looking forward to at AFWN2018?
I really can’t wait for the AFWN 2018 to take off, because I’m super excited. I am looking forward to the International exposure AFWN 2018 will give my Brand, which I hope will translate into more recognition that will pull more A-list fashionistas to my brand. I am also looking forward to networking and linking up with other African Designers for possible collaboration and more business opportunities outside Nigeria. I am hoping that the show will pull international buyers that will order for our collections.

How do you feel with about the growing number of fashion designers?
The growing number of fashion designers in Nigeria, across Africa and the rest of the world give me a positive vibe, that the Fashion Industry has come a long way, as can be seen in Nigeria and the rest of Africa. I remember how people used to look down on dressmakers in Nigeria some decades ago. It used to be a vocation for those who are not highly learned or school dropouts, but today people hold university degrees in Fashion Designing and dressmaking. Today fashion designers are celebrities all over the world. It is wonderful; it is a mega industry that has the capacity to absorb as many youths as possible who are coming up as fashion designers.

What is your outlook on African fashion and its impact worldwide?
The African fashion has evolved; it is receiving global acceptance and influence. Africans in diaspora feel greatly proud to identify with their roots whenever they adorn African wears. I was really thrilled a couple of years ago when I saw the photo of the former American First Lady, Mitchell Obama wearing a piece from a Nigerian designer. It shows that African Fashion has come a long way. I see the great economic potential for the African wears, as it moves from sample production to mass production, with export potentials that would increase the GDP of African nations and Nigeria in particular.

Connect with Lilifeys’ Fashion on Instagram here @lilifeys_fashion1

For more information, visit www.africafashionweeknigeria.com.

Register to showcase or exhibit at AFWN 2018 HERE