Most times, people find it hard to reconcile fashion with faith in God. El Sali Designs has shown that this actually is not a difficult task. In an exclusive interview with our fashion editor Rotimi Ariwoola, Stephanie Popoola of El Sali Designs tells us how faith and fashion connect.
YADA: Hello! Can you first give us a brief introduction of yourself, your background and what you do?
Stephanie: My name is Stephanie Popoola, I’m 21 years old. Self-taught designer, writer and poet. I’ve freelance as an Arts Director and Stylist. I worked at Jesus Junkie Clothing as the Creative Director for a year and now work with JStyle Clothing as the PR and Marketing Director. I’ve just recently launched my own clothing line called El Sali Designs.
YADA: It seems you’re involved in a lot of things to do with fashion. Can you also briefly talk about your walk with Christ?
Stephanie: Yeah (laughs) I really am. Sure thing. My parents were believers of Christ but didn’t go to church. I learnt of Christ at 14 years old and followed the youth church, but didn’t really allow Him to invade my life. At that age for me church was just Sunday. After a series of life changing situations, I turned to Christ in August 2008 and have been with Him ever since. Of course it’s not easy, but he’s making me a new creation as the Word says and that the process I’m in right now. Being a true new creation as opposed to the illusion of a partially transformed individual.
YADA: A lot of people have actually said that they were brought up by Christian parents but they never really allowed Christ in their lives till later on. What do you feel about that?
Stephanie: I feel that it’s a shame so many have Christian parents, yet don’t experience Him in their home. It’s a common thing that a lot of my friends have experienced and the “tradition” of Christianity in some families can also be seen as “religiosity” – that’s not what Christ was and is about.
YADA: Definitely! So back to fashion now. When did you realize fashion was your thing?
Stephanie: It was in April 2008 after I had co-ordinated my second large scale fashion show. I left my Law degree to pursue fashion, but I didn’t know where to start, go. I didn’t have a lot of confidence neither, which didn’t help.
YADA: So what motivated you to start then?
Stephanie: To be quite honest, this passion, drive and desire for fashion/creativity and art forms in the fashion industry, really came from nowhere else but the Holy Spirit. It was like discovering a side to me that never knew existed, like it hid itself from me…. I know (laughs) I must sound crazy but it’s true.
YADA: In your view, how do you see fashion?
Stephanie: I see fashion as an important art form as well as an encouraging tool. It’s not something that can be contained or destroyed but can be created. Our understanding of fashion may grow change but it still will be fashion.
YADA: So tell us about El Sali designs!
Stephanie: The vision for a clothing line of my own has been there since I realised I loved fashion. The confidence however wasn’t. You could say I was a pregnant chicken helping everyone else lay their eggs, whilst I was contracting (laughs)! With El Sali Designs, the aim is to have it in New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week by 2010. To feature alongside other great designers such as Oscar De La Renta, Jason Wu, Chanel, Louis Vitton etc. I’m influenced by life and what God shows me is needed. That’s the truth. The foundation of this clothing like is Christian principles demonstrated through fashion and art.
YADA: So tell us about the current collection.
Stephanie: The current collection is called The Rophe Collection, which is a 13 piece collection, consisting of women’s eveningwear. Using nude and black to bring sophisticated relevance to the modern-day woman, in statement dresses that display a youthful maturity. Adding an avante grande twist, the Rophe Collection will not disappoint.
YADA: How is the collection doing so far? What is going on with it?
Stephanie: thus far the collection is a success. The number of fashion shows we’ve appeared in is phenomenal. We’ve been commissioned to create garments for music artists and actress Tanya Vital. At the moment we are working on a dress for Tanya. Looking into wholesale manufacturing of the current collection and our S/S11 collection. Also preparing for London Fashion Week and the next 4 fashion shows that we have coming before mid September. 2010 has been a great start thus far but 2011 will be even bigger.
YADA: Are you the only one involved in El Sali Designs?
Stephanie: In El Sali Designs we have Sheila Ocen, who is our admin and myself. The line is special and so although many people freelance with us, very few can actually make the official team.
YADA: Thank you very much for your time, and informing us about your beautiful collection.
Stephanie: Thanks for having me! It’s been fun. I love your blog site, so having an interview was a plus!