May I introduce: Lia Samantha
My first time in Colombia and I had no expectations regarding there fashion week. None at all! That's probably why I was totally flashed when meeting designer and singer Lia Samantha who invited me to her show the next day. I came a little early to make it backstage and what I saw made me want to rip of those jackets form every single model that was wearing them. Afro prints (my latest addiction) but using bomber jacket cuts, adding a little hip hop flair. I don't even want to start with the accessories. After the show I got to ask Lia a few questions (see the interview below), and more important she sold me one of her stunning designs. Check out which jacket made it into my closet and let me know what you think.
You are a singer and a designer,..., what are you better at?
Both are my great loves, my great passions, but I have to recognise that it's music that has given me everything, including the opportunity to move into other artistic scenes. Although most people know me for my music career and from presenting on TV, it's fashion that has made me most visible.
At what point did you decide to become a designer and why?
It happened empirically and spontaneously, due to my father being a tailor and my grandmother a dressmaker as well as school teacher and singer. After being one of the founders of the first hip hop clothing labels in Colombia and through developing design. When I say that music has given me everything, I refer the fact that I was immersed in the music scene from eleven years old. As a singer, I've always been concerned about what I wear to go on stage. Dressing me has been as important for me as having the song sounding in tune, and I started to detect that 15 years ago, when there was no internet or social webs, that I was a making an impact with my fashion statement within the hip hop community. Many women copied my hairstyles and way of dressing, and after a failed trip to Israel, on the way back to Colombia was when a friend told me that everyone liked how I dressed and why didn't I study fashion design. Having always had sewing and dressmaking around me in my house growing up, I had no idea that there was such a thing as career in fashion design. It seemed like a good idea, so when I got back from the journey I looked for all the fashion schools that I could start at straight away. When I started to study, in my first semester, I knew absolutely nothing about mould making, it was in the second semester in a class studying the history of the suit, when I realised that I had discovered another art that moved me inside, just like music. Fashion design had just become that new love that I could use to express what I feel deep within me.
You use a lot of African prints, why is that so important for you?
The "Lia Samantha" label exists because it my personal taste and style. The prints are very dynamic and I've always felt a connection, and through understanding the history and messages that are printed into the fabrics, I learned what why I'd liked them from the start. When I first saw them I felt a huge impact and drawn in, but I knew that it was more than just the colour. African prints were also a form of communication between my African ancestors.
Where do you get your fabrics from?
When I have the opportunity to travel abroad with my band to Europe, Canada or the States, as well as doing music I'm finding afro populations, where I've discovered the music, crafts, food and fabrics.
Where do you live now, and where were you born? Or where do you feel your roots lie?
I was born in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia and my parents are from El Chocó, Colombias biggest African settlement, on the Pacific Coast. When you understand that your roots don't belong only to this country you look into yourself to see who you are and where you come from. That's why I feel such a strong connection to Africa and it gives me so much inspiration.
You also have a Raggea Band? How many people, since when?
We're four, and we've been working together for 9 years. It's the strongest and most rooted musical project I've ever known and the ones that has given me the luxury of know some of the biggest festivals in Colombia, Canada, USA South America.
How did you get the idea of becoming a musician?
Rock al Parque 2012 when we played after Cultura Profetica, one of the most inspirational reggae bands from Latin America, and before Black Uhuru, mighty roots sound from Jamaica.
What did you study?
I studied at a religious school led by nuns in 3rd grade primary, when I was 8 years old and I sang in the choir. Later at 11, I founded the church choir in the neighbourhood when I grew up. In that same era, hip hop was becoming popular in the neighbourhoods around there, and then my father arrived from the USA, bringing various music from Run DMC, Public Enemy, KRS1, Fat Boys, all representing the new Afro American music that was giving dignity to a race. Their reality was not so different form mine, and that made me fall in love with their rebel lyrics and those ideals that made part of my growth as a person. As for studying music as such, that's something I've never done, beyond the choir practice in primary school.
Back to Fashion, where do you come up with ideas? What inspires you?
I'm always looking towards Africa and their traditional ways of designing and styling hair. Some of my fashion ideas come from experimenting with and combining my own designs, and some are basic fashion designs that I simply reinterpreted with traditional african prints.
Oct. 16, 2014
Labels: May I introduce