Olajumoke Tawose Of Gracie's Atelier Shares On The Creative Process Behind The Butterfly Yoruba Traditional Wedding Outfit
Every successful fashion designer strives to create outfits that stand their clients out of the crowd. To achieve this, they employ a process and their special touch to creating various outfits.
Over time, we have discovered the process of making various outfits, including a 2-in-1 wedding dress, an avant-garde dress, a corset and tulle skirt ensemble, and an Ankara ballgown with petticoat outfit, amongst others.
This week, we interviewed Olajumoke Tawose on the creative process behind her Butterfly Yoruba traditional wedding dress.
Her brand is described as a raring fashion brand because they are enthusiastic and ready to grow. They are always moving forward, learning new things, taking new risks and looking for opportunities to be better each day.
What was the Process of Making the Butterfly Yoruba Traditional Wedding Dress like?
The thing about this client is that she knew exactly what specifically she wanted. Normally, there are situations where I'm the one that sends style suggestions to clients and give them advice, but, she knew exactly what she wanted.
"She had the perfect idea of what she wanted and she trusted me to visualise it."
She was also into designing so it made the process pretty easy since she was certain of the style and design she wanted. She got the fabric, and all I had to do was to put everything together to form her perfect idea.
What Inspired The Butterfly Dress Design?
The dress was inspired by the bride. She just wanted to look different and she didn't want to use the regular aso-oke.
"The bulk of the inspiration for the dress was gotten from the bride. I only gave advice based on how to make the dress since she knew what she wanted."
I advised her to mix it with lace fabric, embroidered lace, something to make it look like a modern bride. She took the advice and when I could not get a suitable lace fabric to pair with the aso-oke in Ibadan, she offered to get it by herself in Lagos.
We did a video call and when we saw the lace fabric we used for the dress, we both agreed that it was perfect.
The Lace Fabric.
I was inspired to mix lace with the aso-oke because she wanted something different and did not want to expose her body. It was used to switch up the fabric and make her an unconventional bride.
The sleeves were a bit difficult to make. I had to make them three times to get the result we wanted because the aso-oke she got was very hard.
Normally, the aso-oke people use for head ties is different from the one used for clothes, but the vendor she gave the aso-oke to used the head tie aso-oke for the entire dress. This made it harsh and very difficult to control.
I remember breathing heavily while working on the outfit. The first time I made the sleeves, she did not like them when she came for a fitting because the fabric was too stiff and kept fraying.
The second time I tried it, it still did not look good so I took it off before she came for fitting. Luckily, the fabric was enough for me to try again.
On my third attempt, I calmed down and went to do my research to see how I could manipulate the fabric to bring out the sleeves. It was cut on a full circle and it had a lot of pleats.
It required just little tweaks to make it work and it did. The upper part of the sleeves was made with the lace and the lower part was made with the aso-oke fabric.
What Inspires the Designs for Each of Your Outfits?
For each of my outfits, if I'm dealing with a first-time client, I ask them what they want. I ask about their preferences, likes and dislikes, and if they have any ideas in their head.
Most times, especially when it comes to brides, they usually have this rough idea of what they want. Some say they want a ball dress, some just want to shine, some do not want to be conventional, and some just want to look simple.
"Sometimes, I feel like the reason why people want something is because they have not seen anything better."
When I know what they want, I try to picture the client in something that might look nice on them. I then send suggestions of things I think will work out to give them ideas.
Based on my research and my client's preferences, I get beautiful unconventional suggestions and dump it on them. From looking at the suggestions, they tell me what they like and we try to switch it up to suit them.
"I give suggestions because I feel like when you send people pictures of outfits on other people, they are better able to picture themselves in the dress than if you do a sketch."
After everything, we decide on what we are going to combine, that is, neckline, sleeves, bodice, applique, to give the client her perfect dress. But, we start off getting inspiration from diverse dresses and styles based on what the client likes.
What Factors do You Consider when Making Traditional Bridal Outfits?
1. The Bride.
I first consider the bride - she is the most important. There are a million styles to make, but if the bride does not think they are fine, then they are not fine.
I try to understand the bride - her person, what she likes, what she wears, what she is comfortable in. I ask them questions about what they wear normally and what they want.
The bride talks more than I do because I try to get to know her for what she likes.
In as much as we snatch your waist and all, it has to be comfortable. Some people like their waist so snatched they can barely breathe and some people do not.
She will be doing a lot of bending and dancing and she needs to be comfortable when doing these.
I consider making my bridal outfits unique and unconventional. I do not ever want to make a style and someone will say they know the style and someone that wore it.
"I always try to help my clients understand that making a replica of someone else's outfit will not make them unique. I should understand them for who they are so we can work with what they want. Most of the times, the finished product comes out fabulous."
Usually, I have issues with clients that want a replica of another person's outfit. In situations where a bride wants to use the same material, zip, applique, and other materials from someone else's outfit I advise her and let her know they will just see her as a copy of someone else.
What Factors do You Consider when Picking Accessories for Outfits?
I do not like using popular things. I do not like to use things that others are using and everyone knows the price of. So, when I am getting accessories, even to my zips, I look out for things that are not conventional.
I go the extra mile in sourcing accessories. I go to places most people would not go or buy things that are new to the market, even if they are pricey. This gives the dress a different appeal because they are not things people have seen before.
Some accessories are thoroughly overused and I do not like to use such things. Even if the dress is very simple and has nothing on it, something as simple as my choice of lining or zip makes the dress stand out.
I try to make sure that whatever I am doing is not too much. I am more of a minimal person and I do not like excessive drama.
One thing my clients know is that I am major on fabrics. I like it when they bring me fabulous fabrics because even if we make iro and buba with it, it will stand out. After all, the fabric speaks for itself. It is even much easier to tweak a fabulous fabric.
If you buy a very cheap material, say you buy 6 yards of ankara for #1,000, and you want to bling it up with stones, feathers, applique, and so on, it does not change the quality of the fabric.
I usually advise my clients to get the best possible fabric to make the work easier. I prefer for my clients to spend much more on fabric so that we might not even have to add anything to it when making an outfit from it.
Anyone can get applique, feathers, and other accessories for their outfits, but if you get a nice fabric and we remake it, it will make all the difference. Even the client will be wondering if that is their fabric.
What Factors do You Consider when Combining Fabrics for Outfits?
When combining fabrics, I like to make sure that the fabrics are well coordinated. Most fabrics and accessories look nice independently, but when you put them on a dress they do not look good.
I do a lot of checks in front of the mirror before I go to the market. For example, if we are trying to mix colours, combine lace with a plain fabric, or pair different ankara fabrics, I do many checks in front of the mirror to make sure everything is well coordinated.
When an outfit is not well coordinated, people will look at it and wonder what is going on with it. They would not even see the style.
If it is for a bride, there are some fabrics you can combine and others you cannot combine because they don't suit the occasion. For examples, I cannot combine regular satin with lace, it looks somehow, especially if it is for a bride, it downtones it.
If a fabric is exquisite or expensive, there are some things you cannot add to it. They belittle the fabric and make it look cheap.
3. Client's Preference.
Some people do not like certain types of fabrics, so in making outfits for them, I have to get fabrics they are comfortable with. I always ask questions and I never make assumptions when I am working for someone.
In closing, she said, "I think the most important thing when making a dress is to make sure that you give it your best. Do everything you can to make it perfect, regardless of whether the person pays you as much as you think you deserve or not.
I am a firm believer in the fact that even if you get a job that is not so well paying if you give it your best shot, you will be amazed at the referrals. My business is based on referrals. My Instagram is not so active but I am so busy with the jobs that referrals are giving me that I am flourishing.
Word of mouth is very important so you have to make sure that whatever it is you are doing, you are giving it your best so no one can speak ill of you. There will always be grumpy clients, but even if they try to spoil your brand, there are others that will stand up for you and defend you.
Always give your best shot and always improve on your skills. Look for new ways to do things, always."