Decade defining fashion designer Tia Adeola brings a historical nod to today’s fashion with her innovative styles, and versatile range. Inspired by the Renaissance, Tia Adeola incorporates themes and motifs from the fashion of the period but focuses a new lens on diversity and modernity, and shows this in her SS21 beautifully produced fashion film Le Noir est Beau, which celebrates Black royalty.
With conversations surrounding the current climate of the fashion industry, we discuss with Tia the importance of inclusivity, future projects - including their Planet i eyewear collaboration coming out on Monday - and her creative inspirations.
Your pieces tend to reflect your love of technical range and attention to detail. What specifically inspires your work?
The Renaissance and rewriting history through fashion.Taking those silhouettes and trends that would have never been caught dead on a Black person as they were specifically for 'royalty' and making it wearable for the fashion girl and confident woman today.
You released a beautifully produced fashion film titled Le Noir est Beau for SS21. What was it in particular that drew you to the French culture and was it the country’s notorious reputation of making powerful public statements?
I learnt a lot about the French Revolution while spending time in Paris and I learnt about several figures who were overlooked at the time simply due to the colour of their skin. Take Alexander Dumas for example, Dumas was a black man who wrote The Three Musketeers, a piece of writing which essentially revolutionized literature. Barely recognized for his work, if anything he was racially profiled. So I thought it would be interesting to take Marie Antoinette which I love and put my own spin on it and see how I could convey Black royalty.
Diversity within the fashion industry is constantly debated on and critiqued. What would you say is the main fuel of change to solve the lack of diversity?
I was on a Nike panel recently and one of the ladies said something that stuck with me which would be the answer to this question “Black people don’t want to be on moodboards, they want to be in boardrooms". That would be a good place to start!
Growing up, who were your creative inspirations?
I didn’t have too many growing up in Nigeria and it took a while for my family to accept the fact that I am a creative but I will say, I interned with my aunt - Nigerian designer Ituen Basi when I was about 13 years old and she gave me John Galliano's biography to read and he stuck with me ever since so I guess he’s one of them. I was more so inspired by the art and paintings that I came across in school.
You have a clear and honest love for fashion making and it’s reflected in the work you produce. Has fashion always been the career choice for you?
Yes it has. I didn’t decide to start a brand because it was the cool thing to do or to make a profit when I initially started. I’ve been making clothing for my barbie dolls since as early as I can remember and that evolved into wanting to make cool clothes for my friends whilst in college and it somehow just evolved into my label, Tia Adeola!
What does the appearance of Black royalty in popular culture mean to you?
I’ve always been an art history nerd, and I remember flipping through archive paintings wondering why none of the queens or courtladies looked like me, only the slaves and jesters did, and as a young girl in high school it was rather confusing to process; so I just believe that it is extremely important to the generations to come to see proper representation.
Your work makes a clear nod to the opulent and colourful styles of the Renaissance. How did you redefine this era to fit our modern-day society?
I redefined it not just by making modern day versions of signature silhouettes that were popular then, such as the ruffle , that the it girl today would want to wear but also by the way in which it's delivered to the world even just down to my model cast. Young Black girls need to see opulence and luxury that is relatable to them so that they understand that it's all attainable.
Would you ever be interested in any future collaborations? If yes, with whom?
Yes I’d love to collaborate. It's the best way to connect with other talented people in my community. Just off the top of my head I would love to collaborate with Glory Samjolly. She’s an amazing painter and her work essentially captures Black subjects as royalty which is the entire message behind my brand. I think it would be incredible if she painted over one of my garments.
Speaking of Collabs, you’re set to release an exciting new eyewear collection with Planet i! What can you tell us about that?
I’m very excited about this collaboration! It’s something Eric (Planet i) and I started working on during the pandemic and it’s been an amazing experience to finalise them and just learn from him as an eyewear designer. The message behind them is also very important so keep an eye out! We’ll be teasing them this week and they come out Monday, June 21.
How has the rebranding of your brand from Slashed by Tia to Tia Adeola changed and inspired the future your brand?
It has drastically changed everything. Slashed by Tia was something that started off as a hobby in my dorm room that I never really expected to grow to be the brand it is today. Changing the name to Tia Adeola, my name, made it not just my reality but my responsibility. My face and name is attached to it now so it needs to be the best brand in the world!
You’ve had some amazing recent projects over the last year, what can we expect from you next?
You can expect more ready to wear pieces that are easily accessible to my audience, swim, footwear as well as made to order pieces from the collection that was released with the film!