By Paul Ndiho
USA based, Nigerian-born designer Vivien Agbakoba, launched her clothing line “ANYA BY VIVIEN” in 2013, and since then, she has stirred up quite a buzz on the fashion scene here in Washington DC. Now, women in the U.S. capital who like to shop, but are worried about what to wear, are getting a custom made shopping experience right at their door steps.
Fashion designer Vivien Agbakoba has always been a fashion fanatic. By the age of 11, she started to experiment with beautiful fabrics and taught herself the art of designing clothes. Today she is the founder and artistic director of her own label, Anya by Vivien — derived from her maiden name. “ANYA” which in the IBO language means eyes or vision.
“I see beauty in every woman, and a lot of times that’s what inspires me. When I look at someone I am already seeing the beautiful in them and I’m thinking of how I can make them even more beautiful.”
Agbakoba’s creative designs blend a mix of vibrant African prints and high quality fabrics produced by the Vlisco to create a dazzling array of outfits.
“When I see the fabric, I try to figure out which one would work with the concept I have. But sometimes I’m also inspired by these beautiful prints that I see. They are so vibrant and colorful.”
Agbakoba has participated in several fashion shows showcasing innovative, unique and cutting edge fashion designs and wants to make a difference in the diaspora.
” I just get excited when I start to think of what I can do with them, how I can work with them; but on top of it, I do have a chance to connect with my clients in a very personal way, sometimes that I find myself being a source of either mentorship or encouragement.
Stella Nkenchar, one of Vivien’s’ clients, says she manages to maintain the eccentric, romantic feel of the garment.
“This is a fabulous dress I’m wearing by Anya by Vivien. Very sophisticated. I’ve actually worn it to a dinner with my husband. And it was just unbelievable.”
Nina Oranwusi, another client says the day she wore this outfit, people were blown away because of its uniqueness.
“She has a unique way of doing things. Her tailoring is neat, the treading is neat and everything is in details. The cutting, the layout, everything is just placed together. And that’s why I like about what she does.”
Oma Ngwabia, notes that Vivien’s ability to design with variety of prints has given her a limitless opportunity to continue to unleash her creativity and grow her client base.
“She uses like fashion to bring out the best in people. So she makes fashion that works with one’s body, her dresses blend with your body and bring out your best cups and hide imperfections.”
Agbakoba attributes her success to her parents and other supporters who pushed her to pursue her dream in the fashion industry.
“My mom encouraged it by allowing me to use her machines and leftover fabrics that she worked with, and she taught me a few of the stuff that I knew. But my dad was exceptionally very supportive.”
Phil Russell, a manager at Sonna African Textiles, says Vivien has tremendous potential to meet the growing demand for high-end products in the global market including Africa’s growing middle class.
She typically buys the Vilsco. Um, she…they have wax block, super wax, java. And the way I would differentiate those three products is typically, if you think of, um, bedding, you know, thread count, you know, the higher the thread count, the better the quality.
As the Anya by Vivien’s label expands and makes its mark in the fashion world, Agbakoba says it will play a significant role in inspiring the next generation of young designers.