Tina Lobondi - Fashion Focus

Tina Lobondi

Interview with Tina Lobondi during London Fashion Week 2017

During London Fashion Week 2017, multi-award winning designer Tina Lobondi celebrated the 1 year anniversary of the social enterprise Esimbi with a fashion show of her new collection, “I have chosen a lot of blue and yellow prints and floating, luxurious fabrics in honour of the colours of Congo.”

The gala welcomed guests across industries, as well as a number of celebrities, and fashionistas including Andy Abraham, Anita Dobson, singer LL, celebrity session hairstylist Vicki Lord, actress Helen Baker, and LDNC. People travelled from Europe and Congo to attend this event at the prestigious One Whitehall Place in London.

Music from DJ efe-J, Henna, a photo-booth, drinks and cupcakes added fun elements to the fundraising event, but Tina’s speech highlighted the seriousness behind the issues in Congo for young people trying to make a life for themselves and away from the crime and street culture. Tina broke down in tears at the support from everyone including those who had provided luxury raffle prizes and goody bag gifts from the guests... Balmain Hair Couture Styling Kit, an Upcycling book from Designer Max McMurdo, Hypnotherapy sessions with Malminder Gill, yoga discount from Laurent Roure, Simply Be You jewellery, Pro Diva Hair straighteners, Dilly and Wolf, Cantu, Orange Rabbit Cakes, and bespoke luxury candles from Pick n Melt.

Tina has raised more funds and awareness for Esimbi, which was set-up primarily to provide vocational training with secured employment (via an Apprenticeship Project and an Apprenticeship Resource Hub) to young adults in the UK and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is achieved by collaborating with its alliance charities.

Women Talking caught up with Tina in-between her speeches, fashion show and TV interviews for an interview of our own:

1.       What are 2017 trends?
In 2017, the shape will be very feminine, and all about strong, bold women.

2.       What is the key to success for somebody in the fashion industry?
The key to success is persistence... You need to keep going no matter what happens or life throws at you, and learn to trust your gut feelings.

3.       Why did you choose to set-up ESIMBI?
I chose to set up ESIMBI because it was very hard for me to witness the lack of art and activities in these children's lives back in Congo, simply because their schools cannot afford the materials they need to turn their creative thoughts into creative things. Being able to express my fears and dreams through drawing, writing or even singing has played a big part in who I am as a person. And, I believe that giving back socially to a community should be on everyone's bucket list and the work that we are doing with ESIMBI is my contribution.

4.       What advice would you offer to anyone wanted to go into a fashion or arts career?
I would advise them to practise and observe how a few people work. Learn from other people's mistake and take time to make your own, and learn from them too. It is also important to stay with people who have a similar mindset so you can motivate each other during hard times.

5.       Do you think it is difficult for a woman to be successful in business?
I think it is difficult for anyone to be successful in business. From my own experience, women tend to think more than men, so maybe this the reason why we take longer to blossom. I think that being good at multitasking is our strongest skill

6.       Which celebrities have worn your design?
The celebrities who have worn my designs includes Thandie Newton, Angelique Kidjo and Leanne La Havas.

7.       You have been listed in Forbes Afrique, what was this for, and do you think this can inspire others to be successful?
I was listed in Forbes Afrique as one of the entrepreneurs to watch out for and this was truly an honour. I have received many messages from young adults who read the article, saying that it had motivated them to work harder. This is the impact and feedback we want to have with all our projects. 

8.       What is the first fashion item you ever bought?
The best fashion item I bought was a corset dress which was truly a piece of art.

9.       What is your favourite fashion item?
I love dresses, they are definitely my favourite fashion item and that's why I have so many in my collections.

10.   What female in the celeb world would you love to wear your designs?
I would love to dress actresses Deepika Padukone, and a few other Indian actresses. Thandie Newton is my dream woman and is such an inspiration, and so I feel honoured that she wears my label. I would like to dress Blake Lively, Gabrielle Union, Viola Davis or Meryl Streep. I like strong women.

You can support Esimbi by buying an Esimbi t-shirt, as worn by Thandie Newton, and also by buying a limited-edition Congo candle made by Pick n Melt.

Photographer: alessiafrancescamuoio.com

Jordan Martin