Deola Ade-Ojo popularly known as Deola Sagoe is an haute couture fashion designer. She studied at the University of Miami and University of Lagos with a Masters in Finance and Management. Deola began designing in 1989 and has gained international notoriety for her lively, and colourful designs.
Having been the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma, Rome’s celebrated fashion week, back in 2004 and the first Nigerian to have her own stand-alone show at the New York Fashion Week September 2014, she continues to lead the way in trailblazing Nigeria on the global fashion map. With humble beginnings from MNET Face of Africa 1998, her fashion design credentials took a huge leap forward when she subsequently won the MNET Anglo Gold African Design Award (New York) in the year 2000; upon nomination by influential US Vogue Editor Andre Leon Tally. In 2001, Deola was rated number 37 on the African Almanac scale of 100 most influential Africans in the world. In 2004, Deola marked an important milestone of pioneering the introduction of authentic African infused clothing to the Alta Roma Alta Moda Fashion week.
In 2007, she was recognised at the 10th International Star Awards in Paris and merited the Platinum Quality Award for her superior clothing. In a similar vein, she was awarded the International Quality Award (in the diamond category) of Excellence and Business prestige at the Quality Summit in New York, 2008. In 2010, the Deola Sagoe brand was recognised as a ‘Super Brand’ and was recipient of the Super Brand’s Certificate of Excellence in Fashion Design and Label category. In 2015 she featured in and produced costumes for the monumental film on Nigeria’s independence directed by Kunle Afolayan: “October 1” and merited herself the Multichoice- Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Award for Best Costume Designer.
She was also appointed to represent Nigeria in an international campaign organised by the United Nations World Food Program. The campaign, titled “Catwalk the World: Fashion for Food.”, began in Nigeria in April 2006 and subsequently staged an event in Ghana which brought celebrities like Damon Dash, his wife, designer Rachel Roy, and Ghanaian-born, London-based designer Ozwald Boateng.
The campaign’s goal was to raise money towards halving the number of hungry people in the world, particularly children, by 2015. Deola frequently exhibits her couture collection at Cape Town Fashion Week and has been an invited guest of New York Fashion Week in the past.
Speaking on her success as an internationally recognised brand, she says:
“From the start I always wanted to represent the African woman in terms anybody anywhere would describe as beautiful. I’m Nigerian, I grew up with a lot of natural beauty around me, just here and there without pretension. I was amazed by the beauty of the women I grew up with and the way they embodied my culture. This is perhaps the ultimate success of my brand – that we have been able to give the African woman, and more widely the black woman, her own pedestal where she stands in all her beauty and is admired the world over. After two decades of being in business, what defines my success is that I fused my cultural heritage with an intrinsic sense of beauty and came up with designs that contributed to the fashion dialogue. My designs were chosen, they were recognised and have stood the test of time, lately we have been reaching an ever-wider audience and this itself is success…”