For four years now, teenagers in Nigeria have had the opportunity to showcase their talents in fashion designing and other creative abilities, courtesy of the Genesis Fashion Show organized yearly by the Teens Church of the RCCG, City of David Parish, Lagos. The winner of the 2017 edition, Rebecca Igebor, is not only multitalented but the 18-year-old knows exactly where she’s headed in life and how to get there. This much she revealed in this chat with Nkechi Ibeneme
How has winning the show affected your life?
Winning the GFS has changed my life tremendously and has given me the opportunity to chase my dreams. Something I could never have dreamt of at this point in my life. Words cannot perfectly describe the way I feel. I can only say a big thank you to the organisers for this wonderful opportunity.
Was the 2017 edition your first time on the Genesis Fashion Show?
I participated in the 2016 edition, as a model.
So, what made you return this year as a designer?
While walking the runway, I took a critical look at some of the designs on display and thought to myself that I could actually do this. So, I made up my mind to register as a designer in the next edition.
Were you already designing before the show?
Yes. I have been designing for two years now. Immediately I left secondary school, I went to do a one-year programme at a fashion school. Even before I went to the fashion school, while still in secondary school, I used to make clothes for myself. I would sketch and cut out along the lines of my sketch then sew it up using needle and thread. I hadn’t a machine then so each time I thought of a style, I would sketch, cut and sew with needle and wear it to church like that and my mum would be wondering what that was about. Really, the clothes I made then didn’t quite turn out like they were sewn with a needle but they didn’t turn out as neatly as clothes sewn by machines and it took longer for me to make a single dress.
What inspired your choice of designs for the show?
Growing up, I used to watch the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria beauty pageant organised by Silverbird and I used to admire the long evening gowns worn by the contestants. To me, they looked like princesses. As women, I believe we represent royalty and should carry ourselves as such, so I made up my mind that going into the competition and beyond, I would create long flowing gowns that would portray royalty.
What was the warm up to the show like?
We had a masterclass and some established designers were on hand to take us through the rudiments and give us pep talks. I thank God for NextGen. They did everything to make our jobs easy. All we had to do was come for rehearsals and sketch our designs.
Going into the show, did you expect to win?
When I got to the masterclass, I saw a lot of teenage designers who wanted to enter the competition too and just said to myself that I was going to win this. I didn’t know I said it out loud and my friend, who is also a designer and who was standing beside me said, ‘hello!’ It was then I knew I had spoken out loud. I just said sorry. But I had this feeling I was going to win this. I felt nobody here could match the designs I had.
And what gave you such confidence in the face of other contenders?
I just had that mindset from the word go. I believed in my designs. I believed I had done my homework well and that no one was good enough to beat me, seeing that my designs represent royalty – what can ever beat royalty? My motto is actually: ‘Let fashion describe royalty’.
Did you choose the fabrics for your designs or you just worked with what was provided?
After the master class, we had another interview where they picked the first ten designers to compete. Then, we were asked to make our choices of fabrics for our designs and each of us made our choices. While speaking with me on the choice of fabrics, one of the designers that mentored us, Miss Tara Koko, discovered that most of the fabrics I chose were quite expensive and she said, ‘Ok, this is good taste for royalty’. She actually suggested more fabrics that would suit the royalty concept and the result was magical.
Would you participate in the 2018 edition of the show?
Yes! I will be there not to compete but to launch my designs and showcase them to the world.
What is next for you?
For now, it’s going to be the career for me. I want to pursue this business on a full-time basis and build it up to a stable point before furthering my education. Right now, we are all undergoing a six-month internship courtesy of NextGen. I am doing mine with Rootz Fashion while others are doing theirs with other volunteer designers. As soon as I am done with the internship, I will buy an industrial machine with my prize money, register my business name and launch my designs on Instagram with my logo which is almost ready and business will start.
How did your parents react to your decision to put your education on hold?
They didn’t support the idea at first, but after I won the Genesis Fashion Show, they saw many reasons to allow me to put schooling on hold. Moreover, they could see that my elder brother couldn’t secure a reasonable job since he graduated. For many years now since he completed his youth service, he keeps moving from one menial job to the other. My parents also realized that many people who have gone to school are just roaming around with no jobs. Although I had to speak to them severally and I prayed that God should touch their hearts.
When it’s time for school, what course would you study?
I will study Law. I just love the course. Also, while in school, my government teacher saw that flair in me and suggested I read Law. I do not intend to practise though.
What is your take on nude fashion?
For me, nude fashion shouldn’t be a trend; it debases a woman. Women are divine. They are mothers to nations and should carry themselves as royalties. Coming out half-naked does not make a woman beautiful rather, it makes her look less a woman. You can actually slay in decency. You do not have to expose vital body parts to slay. Some celebrities go on the red carpet half-dressed and teenagers emulate them thinking it’s glam. As a matter of fact, I look forward to when celebrities would be rocking my less-revealing clothes on the red carpet like the princesses they are. I want to teach women that beauty is from within and not by showing off body parts. And that’s what the Genesis Fashion Show stands for; to redirect the fashion sense of teenagers and make them realize they could be glam and still look decent.
What are your views on a teenage relationship?
I see teenage relationship as a dream killer. The time teenagers should spend developing themselves, they waste on maintaining a relationship that may not lead anywhere. In the course of a relationship, other complications may set in like pregnancy, abortion which can lead to distortion of dreams and even death. When the time is ripe for a young person to be in a relationship, he or she will know and can handle whatever comes with it.
Who is your role model?
My role models are Mo Abudu and myself. Mo Abudu is an amazing woman and she inspires me a lot. When I read her profile online, I made up my mind to equal or even surpass her achievements. Though she is from a well-to-do family and I am not, she worked really hard to get to where she is today and I am ready to work as hard. I also inspire myself in a lot of ways.
What other talents do you have aside from designing clothes?
I sing, write, act, draw, present and also do motivational speaking. Recently, I counselled a girl who had taken a decision to do something really awful and after the session, she changed her mind. I am also a very good cook.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see myself as the established CEO of Becky’s Fashion Palace. My palace will cater for everything fashion – clothes and accessories. I intend to stock designs from other people as well as my own designs.
Do you have word for the organisers of the show?
I am immensely grateful to daddy and mummy Iluyomade, the head teacher, Pastor Gbenga Olaniyan and other teachers of the Next Generation Church of RCCG, City of David Parish for this wonderful platform. God is using them to polish and even rewrite the destinies of many teenagers. Through the show, many talents have been discovered; some in singing, photography, presenting, designing and even modelling. The other day, while watching the television I saw a product of the GF Show; Newton Avies Igwele, strutting the runway as a professional model in South Africa. I was ecstatic because he started here four years ago and now he’s on a world stage.
Is the show open to only teenage members of the church?
No! It is open to every teenager that has something to offer irrespective of his or her religious affiliation. A certain year, a non-member emerged the winner.
What’s your word of advice for fellow teenagers?
Reach out for greatness. God put something in every one of us, as He said in Jeremiah 1v5. Some people discover theirs earlier than others but no matter how long it takes for you to discover yours, never give up trying. The saying that a fool at 40 is a fool forever, in my opinion, is not correct. Some people can start late and still make an impact. Also, do not spend your time Googling the latest music, fashion or even watching porn. Search for profiles of successful people online and read about their journeys to the top for your inspiration.
•For the recorded interview and clips of the show, visit: www.teensconnectmag.com