I was delighted to have FINALLY grabbed a lunch time break with the delectable and charming Yemi Osunkoya, elite couture designer of Kosibah. With a myriad of UK and international wedding industry awards; Kosibah is renowned for corsetry and for creating beautiful hand embellished couture wedding dresses that flatter every body shape. In Yemi’s own words; “taking the surgery out of figure enhancement.”
Yemi’s exquisite talent at hand embellishments and intricacy, coupled with his confidence in creating flattering dresses for all body shapes, make his designs stand out with great poise.
Kosibah was founded in 1991 and was named in honour of Yemi’s mother; Cosiba.
Yemi has been designing and making dream wedding and evening wear for beautiful women of all gorgeous shapes and sizes for an impressive 23 years. When Yemi told me his age, honestly, you would not believe it. But I won’t publish it to keep you all guessing!
So, snuggle up with a cuppa’ (or vino) and read on to find out more about the man behind his version of ‘figure enhancement’ and how you could have your dream dress created for you and only you!
♥ TRAINING ♥
Yemi trained at The Paris Academy School of Fashion and learned the art of corsetry and couture fashion by a talented Parisian in the heart of London. The school was one hundred years old when Yemi started training and it was here that he learnt the true art behind couture.
Yemi says: “I first got into fashion because I could draw really well. I have been drawing since I was 7 years old. I could draw before I could sew.
Drawing is second nature to me, which is why I enjoy taking time sketching dresses for my clients, so they have a clear visual image of what we are creating, where every stitch is going to be. I even draw the complete look, from hair and make-up, right down to the shoes! I remember always been told off during my training because I took ‘too long’ with my sketches. To me, my sketches are so important to helping my clients understand their design and is one of my unique selling points.”
Yemi learnt to design both women’s and menswear, but it was in bridal and women’s evening wear that he felt could challenge his work and truly unleash his creative potential.
“I enjoyed being grand with my designs, but I didn’t want to make clothes just for ‘shock value’. As such, casual and menswear just wasn’t viable for me and I eventually grew into bridal and evening-wear as I discovered my designs and skills in corsetry naturally lent themselves to bridalwear. I could be much more grand without being ‘fussy’ or over the top.”
♥ DESIGNING FOR WOMEN OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES ♥
“I am passionate about creating designs for brides and women. The part of my job I love most, is seeing it all come together and seeing my clients face when they try it on.”
This moment is especially heartwarming for Yemi when he works with curvy or plus sized brides, who become so emotional when they see themselves in a bespoke dress that flatters their shape for the first time. Who formerly might have been ‘programmed’ or limited to stick to certain styles and dress shapes. Resulting in fashion choices which are narrow or unflattering for curvy women.
Yemi says; “Smaller brides may take their figure for granted, they will always look great in a variety of styles, the journey for a curvy bride to find their perfect wedding dress can be quite different.
I was brought up in Nigeria, around big strong women and was always comfortable being around women of different sizes and shapes. As a result, I feel I can relate to all clients and work with any shape or size. Women can still look feminine in style without being twee or losing strength as a large woman.
I believe sense of style should not be eliminated because of a large or small body size. Any good designer should be able to create something flattering that looks good.”
“I strongly feel that regardless of size, all brides should be made to look and feel fantastic and I help my clients achieve this.”
♥ MY BRIDES ♥
“Most of us will always have an ideal body shape in our minds, a fantasy and sometimes that ideal doesn’t match the silhouette we are born with.
As a couture designer, it is my job to help brides create their perfect wedding dress. I can work towards making that ideal silhouette (which for most women is usually the classical hour-glass silhouette), by tweaking parts of the design to suit a brides body shape.
For example: For pear-shaped brides with wider hips, off-the-peg dresses may exaggerate the hip area, which may mean that fish tail styles won’t suit them. With couture, I would do bespoke tweaking to suit a brides body shape. So if a bride with wide hips wanted a fish tail, she could have one. For example, I could lower where the fish tail starts, add subtle padding in the desired areas to equalise proportions. It’s all these little ‘tricks’ and engineering in couture dressmaking, that work towards a more proportional design, which is why brides can wear a shape they wouldn’t normally be able to. This is something that can only be achieved when a dress is made for you and only you.”
♥ THE COUTURE EXPERIENCE ♥
What I personally love is that Yemi can intuitively tell just by looking at his clients, what style, enhancements and corsetry would be involved to create the dream silhouette for his client, before he as even cut a piece of material!
“I have years of experience working with hundreds of different body shapes. I can tell by just looking at a bride how to create the best silhouette that will flatter her shape”
Now I have met Yemi on a number of occasions and to test his intuitive gift, I asked Yemi what silhouette he would create for me.
I could tell Yemi was being a true gentlemen and holding back by choosing his words very carefully, so with an open invitation from me to be as honest as he needed to be, he said exactly what I had hoped! That he would create a fitted dress, tight around the waist to show off my figure and work with textured material and detail around the top and bust area to enhance my ever so tiny bust area (these are my words not Yemi’s!), so that it is in proportion to the rest of my figure, with a beautiful flair and a flowing train at the bottom.
So how do you work with brides like me Yemi, who are very visual and have absolutely NO idea what type, shape or style of dress they even want?
“Most brides who think they don’t know what they want, might not realise that they actually do already have an idea or know what they want.
To help brides who are unsure or overwhelmed, I will guide them through the bespoke process by asking them questions. For example; what time of year is your wedding? What type of venue? What part of your body are you comfortable with? Are there any religious or cultural expectations with modesty that can be taken into consideration? Their answers will help shape the dress of their dreams.
For clients who absolutely have to try something on, I do hold a limited amount of samples in the studio, and I also advise these clients to go out and try different shapes to help narrow it down.”
♥ WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE KOSIBAH EXPERIENCE ♥
Brides who decide to opt for the couture experience with Kosibah are in for a special treat.
It’s very much a two-way process for Kosibah brides and Yemi stresses the importance of wanting his brides and evening-wear clients, to feel like they have ownership in the dress that he is creating for them.
Yemi feels that having a couture wedding dress is about more than the just dress. It’s about the entire experience.
It’s about the time, the hand stitching, the engineering, building a relationship with his brides, creating a piece that matches their personality and flatters their shape. Yemi takes great pride in his work and admits that he does not like to rush and takes great care in making each bride feel special.
Yemi goes onto say: “I love my job. All of the pins going in my hand, the hours, each stitch are all worth it when I see a brides face on her wedding day, or hear guests ‘gasp’ in awe when the bride enters the ceremony room for the first time”
Brides will get to meet with Yemi personally in a relaxed atmosphere to talk about their dream dress and as mentioned above, if you don’t know what this might be, Yemi can pull this information out of you without you even knowing!
Yemi clearly articulated that he does not force his ideas on any client, but works with them through his expertise to create a design that fits and flatters their body.
Brides are invited to involve themselves in the entire process, from shopping with Yemi to choose their fabric(s), from Yemi’s carefully selected suppliers, to attending a number of fittings to begin creating and engineering the perfect dress.
Kosibah brides will also have a chance to look through an array of Yemi’s work and see some of his sketches.
As with most things in the wedding industry, you absolutely get what you pay for. A couture wedding dress designed and made by Kosibah starts from approximately £3,000.
For the full couture experience, Yemi advises that brides allow at least 6 months from start to finish, with all dresses completed a few weeks before the wedding to allow for any last-minute tweaks, or unexpected weight gain or weight loss.
Couture evening wear starts from £1500 and Yemi advises to allow a minimum of 8 weeks to complete the bespoke experience.
For more information on Kosibah please contact the delightful Yemi:Phone: 020 7424 8832 www.kosibah.co.uk