Ezinne Chinkata profiles Lanre Da Silva Ajayi: She has brought the spotlight to Africa (Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year 2014 Nominee)

by Ezinne Chinkata

It would be quite an understatement to say Lanre Da Silva Ajayi; founder of the LDA label deserves the YNaija person of the year award just as much as last year’s nominee, Jason Njoku. I would elaborate further.

African Fashion has gone through a major paradigm shift. There is a growing increase in people purveying the African style and its aesthetics, both locally and internationally. LDA has played a pivotal role in placing African Fashion on the spotlight and changing the perception of “Made in Nigeria/Africa’.

Through hard work and dogged determination, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi has managed to establish LDA as a strong culturally conscious brand. Her penchant for Vintage inspired pieces and 1940’s couture designs has differentiated the brand with its own unique aesthetic.

Last year, while in Italy for the Pitti Imagine shows, I met quite my fair share of designers and fashion influencers in the city. Introducing myself as Nigerian garnered quite a respectful reaction, with them exclaiming excitedly about LDA and her designs stocking at Piave37. The next paragraph explains this further.

In 2012, LDA was selected to showcase her pieces at the Pitti imagine W shows in Italy. A project spearheaded by Omoyemi Akerele of Style House files. Through that incentive, LDA got a chance to showcase her designs to a wide range of buyers from all over the world. Her designs sparked the interest of a particular buyer representing Dolce and Gabbana; this resulted in LDA’S designs becoming the first African Brand to stock at PIAVE 37, a concept store owned by the Dolce and Gabbana group.

LDA brought the spotlight to Africa in a positive way once again this year. She presented her latest collection titled “Rock delight” at the Vogue Talents event in Milan. A collection inspired by the Olumo Rock in Nigeria (Ogun State). Amongst those in attendance were Anna Wintour, Franca Sozanni, Suzy Menkes and other top global fashion influencer’s.

Lanre Da Silva Ajayi is very passionate about her craft. Her wholehearted dedication to the Arts and pushing for the development of the Fashion industry to foster economic growth is quite legendary.

She is currently spearheading a discussion with Daniel Amokachi:  “Fashion Vs Football “. LDA’s argument is very Pro-fashion. She expounds on the importance of investing in Fashion over Football, and the need to build a system and structure for the industry, and create fashion entrepreneurs to ultimately boost economic growth. Her comments sparked a wild uproar and brought Fashion/Arts to the fore of peoples minds.

Another point worthy of note is Lanre Da Silva Ajayi’s active role as Mentor to the upcoming Talents in Nigeria. She was a judge for the Multi Choice Fashion Protégé alongside Mai Atafo. It created an avenue for the impressionable new talent to be enriched and inspired with knowledge of Fashion design and the business of Fashion.

Working in the Arts/Fashion is associated with various prejudices. Lanre Da Silva Ajayi’s bold and outspoken support for Fashion and the industry is quite refreshing and brave! It gives hope to the budding creatives and educates the people. It proves that with hard work, passion and dedication, we can conquer and make our dreams a reality.

African Arts truly should be celebrated and our Fashion aesthetics should be widely consumed. We should stand proud and strong in our traditions. It is our stamp of authenticity. LDA stands for a fashion industry proud of its heritage and celebrating African Fashion globally. She employs only local artisans for her embroidery work; her own contribution to the growth and development of the industry.

Some may argue that LDA is just lucky and there are thousands more talented. They may go as far as saying she got famous solely because of her famous tumble in 2011 at the New York Fashion Week runway during her show. I beg to differ.

I see a lady single minded in her pursuit of Fashion for Africa. A clear evidence of this is her constant activities for the uplifting of the fashion framework and growth of the industry.  She proudly projects African culture and traditions through her collections; a source of national pride. Dare I even delve into the graceful way she turned a potentially disastrous event (the fall) into a positive occurrence, getting up gracefully and cheering with the crowd. She is truly an inspirational figure.




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