Modelling nurtured my love for fashion — Meg Alabi
Meg Alabi is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Meg Alabi Couture, a fashion outfit in Surulere, Lagos State and April 28 Productions. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, the model-turned fashioner designer and catwalk instructor speaks about her experience as a model, what she missed about modelling and the Nigerian fashion industry. Excerpts.
HOW easy was it for you to move from modelling to fashion?
I am glad that I went into modelling even though I just stumbled into it. Modelling nurtured my love for fashion. It helped me to have that extra eye for fit,carriage and comportment. I tell people that if you wear beautiful and fabulous outfits but your carriage is off it has an adverse effect on your dressing but if you wear a simple design but your carriage is right, it will lift the outfit. With modelling I have been able to know that carriage, elegance and comportment are important. Modelling also helps me to stay current as I know what is happening on the international scene when it comes to trending designs. My experience as a model helps me to know what can suit a potential client, what will suit her body type. Working with different designers as a model exposed me to a lot of things.
What do you miss about modelling?
The attention, when you are on stage, all eyes are on you. Catwalking is one of the things I miss the most.The normal catwalking I do on a daily basis is different from the one I do on the runway. As a model, you flaunt what you have It is a very addictive industry.When you are on stage, you are the cynosure of all eyes and that is very addictive. I still miss it but live goes on
Advice for potential models?
First and foremost,be careful to meet the right people, go on the internet, goggle the modelling agencies and people that have been in the industry for a while.Don’t be fooled by what people say because some people will tell you that you are beautiful, modelling is not about beauty, it is about your features. I always tell people that anyone can model, a plus size can model, a short person can model because there are different aspects of modelling.Once you know you want to be a model,go through the right channel and go through proper training. Let peple who are well grounded in the industry train you. Know how to catwalk, know your body, take the time out to do the proper thing. Make sure you have what it takes if you want to do runway modelling,you must be tall, slim. flawless skin and so on.
Most people don’t see modelling as a serious profession that people should go into. What is your take on this?
it is far better now.I modelled 15 years ago. Some times, it didn’t pay the bill, other times it did. Today, it is far better, it is paying the bill. It is a profession and people who want to go into it should see it as one. Have passion and love for it, models are paid well now but we still have a long way to go.
Looking back, what was the most defining moment of your career as a model?
The fact that I modelled abroad, attended shows abroad and also shared experiences with models from different parts of the world.I took part in Fashion Fest in Ghana, I was at the New York Fashion Week and African Fashion Week London. Sharing cultures with them, those were imparctful experience for me.
You have been in the fashion industry for a while, many people you started with are no longer in the industry. What has been your saying power?
As a fashioner designer, what keeps you going is the love and passion you have for what you are doing. The fact that you know and believe you can make a difference, seeing that your customers are satisfied and happy help you to keep holding on and pressing on. It is not easy especially in a business like ours where you have to wait for patronage and it is how bouyant and how rich people are that will determine the level of patronage you will get. Another thing that motivate me is the fact that the fashion industry in the last few years has taken a whole new dimension. A lot of people are coming on board and they are doing wonderful things. We are trend setters, we love what we do and the industry is getting better every day.
What does one need to succeed as a fashion designer in Nigeria?
You must have a passion for it. A lot of people go into the business because of the glamorous aspect of the business, they think there is a lot of money in it, that is a wrong perception. You must have a genuine, in-built love for it so that when you are starting your focus won’t be on making money but a desire to make them happy with your gift. You also need to have a clear idea of what you want to do, whether you want to do ready-to-wear, haute couture and so on.
What are the things that government can do to help the fashion industry?
Government should invest in the fashion business by providing lands and equipments for us. We have the manpower already.If we have a facility with machines where people can make clothes in large quantities, it will help designers to make more clothes. When I started my business
But if government can provide a production hub, it will go a long way in helping the industry; it will create employment for people and create avenues where designers can showcase their work. If we have large quantities of things made in Nigeria and export them to other countries, it will boost our economy.
How have you been coping with competition?
One of the things that AlabI Couture stands for is creating timeless designs. .We do all kinds of clothes for both, male, female and children. We are particular about the fit of our outfit on our clients.We also take out time to discuss designs with our clients. We could have clients who are not really fashion inclined, who come in with fabrics but don’t have a style in mind, after chatting with them, we will come up with a design that is peculiar and unique to them. So that at the end of the day when they wear such outfits, they stand out. And they are clothes they can wear for two or three years, because our outfits are timeless.