“The Dia Diaries” An Interview with Carol Oyekunle

It has been a week since Carol Oyekunle; the creative director of Lolita Lorenzo has been named the winner of “Who is on Next” in Rome. Before this wonderful opportunity, Carol was already self-made since the age of thirty. She had an accessory brand named Kipepeo that was sold in Harrods in Nordstrom; and she used to be the Senior Art Director of Glamour and Lifetime TV in New York.

Carol works with a factory in Northern Italy where she makes her handbags and as she stopped in Milan for a day we took the time to have an interview with her.

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Who is Carol Oyekunle?

I am originally from Kenya but I grew up in the United States, so I identify myself as a Kenyan-American. I first studied engineering but very quickly knew it wasn’t for me so I switched to graphic design, which I studied in Canada in the University of Alberta.

How long have you been interested in fashion?

I have been interested in fashion since I was a little girl. In Kenya we didn’t receive the fashion magazines as soon as they came out, but I used to do collages with the old vogue magazines, the ones that were two or three years old. I use to collect the magazines also.

Explain the name Lolita Lorenzo and the logo

I named it after my two daughters. I love Italy, so my daughters have Italian names, my oldest daughter Chiara Lola who is 5 now and my youngest Siena Lorenza who is almost 2. I wanted the name of the brand to sound like a real name, and that’s how I came up with Lolita Lorenzo.

It was an entire concept for the logo also. I liked the idea of having a bird standing on a crown. Because it’s holding a leaf it’s a symbol of a new life/ new day. It’s based on the story of Noah and the Arch in the bible, so it is in a fact, the promise of a new day.

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What was the inspiration behind the collection you presented for the “Who is On Next?

First of all I wanted to present Africa in a new light by using different colors and fabrics. I wanted the collection to be unique, and I didn’t want it to be something that you could pin point right away where it was from. I wanted to present a good side of Africa in a fresh and modern way. Most of all I didn’t want it to be an African cliché.

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The name of my collection is Modern Ndebele (a tribe in South Africa). My inspiration was the color and the graphic they use to paint their houses and the motifs they have on their walls that are painted by women only. This collection is also a crossover collection because I used some colors that I had in my Carnival Collection, which was inspired by Brazil and the cloth used by the Yoruba women.

Guide us through the process of making one of your bags.

I always start with sketches and slowly I get a shape after another, until I have the final sketch, it’s like a puzzle. Then I choose my fabrics and colors and I send my detailed technical sketches to the factory.

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How did you feel winning “Who is On Next” 2015 as an accessory designer?

It’s actually a funny story. I don’t speak Italian so when the fashion show ended all I heard was words. I heard my name, so I went on stage, I thought they were just presenting me as a designer and they wanted me to take a bow. Giannico, who was standing next to me, whispered in my ears “Congratulations”. I turned to him and said “for what?” He said, “ You won, Carol”. And this is the way I found out I was a winner, absolutely hilarious.

What’s next for Lolita Lorenzo? When and where can we find your collection in stores?

I want to keep up the work and creativity and work with women. I want to possibly have a shoe collection by February 2016. In Fall/ Winter 2016 my collection will be in stores in Milan and London. I will also attend Première Classe in Jardin des Tuileries in Paris in October. It’s a trade show with big brands and emerging designers.

Written by: Anne-Isabelle (The Dia Diaries Milan Contributor)

Chandia Brennen is a Certified Image Consultant and CEO of ItsGood2bME Fashion Consulting and Image Management based in Los Angeles CA, Chandia has been in the Fashion industry for over four years. She has worked for dozens of publications and holds the title of Senior Fashion Editor in both LA and NY. Chandia is a fashion scout for a Design Agency in NY and Brand Ambassador for HairEverywhere Luxury.


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