Meet the Uncrowned King of Afrocosmo – Bayo Adegbe (Veteran Fashion Designer – Modela Couture)


Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Bayo Adegbe aka Modelain his early years of fashion , a model cum Modeling Instructor, Scout, Agent/Manager, Make-up Artist, show Choreographer and Designer – all in one  ( think multi – preneurship ) . He has trained over 60 percent of the fashion models in Nigeria today .

A trained medical doctor , Modela– after his graduation as a medical student from the Lagos State University, decided to explore the creative aspect of of life which he had  always triumphed, and he has designed costumes for beauty contestants, models etc. instead over the years. Today , a trend he started years back – Organic fashion has taken center stage today . This was a trend he was jeered at and called unprintable names like “ridiculous “for , at the time .

In this Interview with Moriam Musa , Modela, he speaks on his timeless strides in fashion and like Carbon, how he has left his “ridiculous ” footprints in the sands of time .



-What inspired you into using raffia as a part of fashion ?

When I had my first fashion show in 1999,2001- Essentric design by modela couture or ethnic ideas by modela ,I showcased some of this piece with Ankara shirts,dyed jute sacks, leopard prints,mud cloth fabrics,Aso oke etc,
What I like about the Raffia threads/fiber is that, it is natural, soft, pliable, organic, easy to dye with natural pigments and biologically degradable which makes it easy for an artist to turn it around and work with it, because it is earth tone, it is neutral and a creative person can easily use it, it doesn’t scratch, it doesn’t irritate the skin so it’s easy to make bags, mats, hats, &dresses with it
It is peeled from Raffia palm,(Raffia farinifera) Raffia threads can be woven like straw, tied. Now it has become one of the favorite fibre for craft men across the globe, though it is an old one. Fashion enthusiasts /fashionistas just newly accepted It as a unique Africa fibre of importance.
It can easily be found in Madagascar, Garbon, Congo, almost every state in Nigeria, Liberia Guinea etc…

-At the the time, the response was not very positive and encouraging , did this affect you in anyway ?

A lot of people thought it is beyond their imagination to use Raffia and jute sack as fashion materials,40% positive,60% negative comments even from colleges, but it didn’t discourage me, I am an fashion artist, I enjoy creating, coming up with new ideas and making creations, with them. I am from the school that believe that fashion is art, more is more fabulous is futuristic.

Modela and his works of art
Modela and his works of art

  …”fashion is art, more is more fabulous is futuristic”…

-Did you ever think this art would be become popular someday ?

Yes,  I believed since it was a new /Novel ideas, it was still strange to people, it would become more accepted and more pleasing to the eyes as time goes on. It would become popular and largely accepted by fashionistas. You see, when  growing up, I saw some ethnic fashion accessories like belts, hats, bags, shoes and household items such as mats, made with raffia, and it came to my Mind that couldn’t a dress be made with this raffia fibre or thread, imagining it that it would look unique if tried out . I decided to embellish some of my jeans,prints and adire shirts with it as my campus wears in the 80s.
Also was invited to produce the Miss Akwa Ibom State pageant in 1997, and visited the Ikot ekpene market where raffia is in abundance. They make mats , table covers, wrap around native dance costumes with raffia .
For the beauty pageant that year, I designed their choreography dance costume mixed with raffia and jersey with the help of a local tailor, it came out nicely

-How do you feel when you see raffia being included in our everyday fashion especially the red carpet ?

I feel goose pimples on my skin.  When I first saw a purse by an international fashion brands and many others in their collection, on Beyonce video etc and at home on emerging designers as at that time, I feel fulfilled that my predictions of acceptance finally became true .

-At the time , what did you refer to this style of fashion as ?

I used to refer to it as Afrocentric creations or afroethnic couture . Now i refer to it as – Afrocosmo





1 Comment

  1. Mr B, can’t wait to be walking the show
    Follow me on IG: winnie_onyinyechi_
    I will be posting everything there.

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