Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Nigerian Boy Speaks to Fast Rising African Designer Simi Osinubi about her Label Babushka

  The prominent jacket in the image above gives me oxygen
Young African designer Simi Osinubi has only been making clothes for a few years now and recently launched her label Babushka, which is 9 months old. She has a keen eye for detail and makes simple chic garments with loads of hand stitching and pin tucking that give her dresses added value and an air of affluence. I got to know about the brand through Le Petit Marche monthly market where she’s a regular and her stand is one where I like to linger and just feel the clothes and give my eyes a dose of beauty. Although she is yet to release a collection, the few pieces we’ve seen so far show a lot of promise and with time Babushka would only get better.

  A closer look at the pintucking

What are the Ethos of your label , what do you want Babushka to represent?

  A feature that is common to all of our designs is wearability. To quote one of my favourite designers, Alber Elbaz, ‘…if it’s not edible, it is not food. If it’s not wearable, it is not fashion’. 
 We’re also very particular about the finishing of our clothes and we try to make every garment in such a way that it stands up to international standards. I believe clothes should look as good on the inside as they do on the outside. 

  A closer look at the floral detail of the dresses in the middle

What influences your Designs? 
Most times when I get an idea for a design, I make a detailed sketch and make notes as to colour specification and type of fabric and possible alterations that could be made to the design and then I source the fabric and other materials. Other times it works the other way round. I could be fabric shopping and as soon as I see some fabric I immediately know what I want to create with it.  

  Soft flowy fabric with beautiful pleats at the shoulder

I am constantly inspired by the minimalism of Phoebe Philo at Celine, the creativity of Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel, Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld) and Marc Jacobs (Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs). Both these men come up with 6 collections each year, Spring/Summer and Fall, not including any ‘Pre’ collections or ‘Resort’ collections and somehow keep their customers wanting more every season. I always say there are only so many ways to make a dress so it takes a certain amount of creative genius to keep people interested.  
  J’adore the bow at the back of the green dress and the sequins

Here in Nigeria, I am inspired by Jewel by Lisa. I think she is one who understands the importance of creating a brand. I can identify a JBL design almost instantly. 
 In reference to the details of my clothes, I employ a lot of ruching in my designs and I love sequins. As for fabric, I love chiffon for draping and because it is very practical for our weather here in Nigeria. 
  Why the name Babushka? 
Babushka is a Russian name that is used to refer to the little Russian nesting dolls that have a smaller doll on the inside as you open them up. Some of the things/people I am most fascinated by are of Russian origin; Vodka, Miroslava Duma and Fabergé eggs! I think the dolls are absolutely beautiful as is the name. Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2009 Paris-Moscou collection also featured a darling enamel Babushka doll bag. Everyone loves a Babushka! 

Who is the Babushka woman? 
The Babushka woman is one who is self-assured. She understands her own style and is never a fashion victim. When asked to describe my label I always say ‘wearable is the new couture’. 
 I like to think our pieces are all very special but at the same time fit into the Babushka woman’s existing wardrobe and she can mix and match our pieces with items she already has in her wardrobe.
  The designer does all the intricate beading herself

What’s next for the Babushka Label?
A collection of about 10 dresses or a little bit more would be ready soon.

  This jackets bears loads of resemblance to the one Rihanna wore in her ‘What’s my name video. Only that its longer, but it’s not a copy guys, she has had this design for long.

  Head wraps

  The tiny details that make all the difference


  1. Lovely pieces!!! Love them all, she pays attention to details.
    How do I get a piece? I don't leave in Lagos or Abuja.

  2. email her @

  3. this is one of the best nigerian designs i have seen hands down! so stylish.


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