Meet Ophelia Crossland, the inspired fashion designer who dresses powerful African women. Blè Kockpa of elle.ci interviews on his label, the Covid-19 crisis and the importance of digital for African designers.
Who is Ophelia Crossland?
I will first describe myself as an African Businesswoman, wife, mother and also a fashion designer greatly inspired by life, optimism and humor.
When did you know you were going to be a fashion designer?
I think I have always been destined for a career as a designer. I was born to a Ghanaian mother. Mrs Sarah Crossland, a trader and textile expert , and my father Professor Crossland was a Doctor of Archeology and a pearl farmer .When I was younger, I was already making the clothes for my dolls, having fun with needles and pieces of fabric. I studied Visual Arts at St . Mary’s Girls then I went to the Vogue Style School of Fashion & Design where I graduated major of my promotion. So let’s say there was no specific period where I had a moment of enlightenment. I have always bathed in this environment conducive to creation and here is where I am today.
Research seems to be a determining factor in your work?
Wow, you noticed. Hahahaha! I believe creativity shouldn’t be put in a box but I also believe in the importance of research. As I said above, my mom and grandmother, a former beauty queen ( Miss Gold Coast ) were all the two in the fashion world. So you can say that I learned from the best. If I have an idea, I start to format it on paper, then I go to the choice of fabrics. I use moodboards a lot to document my work. One day, who knows, they might find a place in a world famous museum like the MET in New York.
How do you combine craftsmanship, handwork and modern sewing techniques?
At Ophelia Crossland Designs, we pay great attention to details and that is our hallmark. The brand has become synonymous with flair, sensuality and extravagance because we believe that every technique is important in the construction of a garment. A perfect combination of fabrics, designs and intricate patterns with exquisite beading will give you an Ophelia Crossland number.
What’s the best way to describe the clothes you design?
Modern African-inspired luxury. The main goal of our design is to make women feel confident and modern. I was one of the first African designers to experiment with local wax printing with other contemporary fabrics . We have always looked for an elaborate style on all fronts.
What inspires you?
I have always said that my inspiration is limitless. However, life, optimism, humor and flair inspire my designs. It’s an amazing process to create the ideas the moment they spring to mind until they hit the runway or when a customer wears them and feels happy.
There are only powerful women who wear Ophelia Grossland?
Powerful women inspire me so much. I believe in empowering women and I believe my work pushes this idea to the forefront. I have two daughters and I want them to believe they can do whatever they want. I don’t think gender or race should limit anyone. Many of these women have fought for some sort of rights that we enjoy as women or created access for other women. Take for example Ghana’s first female Chief Justice, Her Lordship Georgina Woods or Mrs. Konadu Agyeman – Rawlings who championed many women’s programs and was the first woman to run for President of Ghana
As a fashion designer and businesswoman, how have you been affected by the Covid-19 crisis?
COVID-19 has it’s merits and it’s flaws. We started the year on a great note and by mid-March everything was in free fall. However, it taught me a lot about myself, about life and about the industry. I remember recording a voiceover for the release of my Pure Love collection, and I said “ the world as we know it has changed drastically but it has also helped us get in tune ”. This crisis has caused the industry to slow down, stop, and reflect on so many of our actions and biases.I also love that it forced us to have a conversation about media representation, diversity and even ownership.
If the West doesn’t give us the chance, why not create platforms to tell our collective stories. For African creators, most of the questions that concern us are manifold, but it has helped us embrace digital marketing and e-commerce options more than ever. Sales are gradually increasing and we are constantly open to new audiences
According to you, digital is the new playground for African designers?
Yes indeed. As I said before, the problems affecting the industry in Africa are manifold. Lack of investment, poor infrastructure, few or no factories to produce in large quantities. But that doesn’t mean we have to stand still or keep complaining. So many brands, including ours, have embraced the idea of digital so well. Sales, productions, meetings, online shopping and even fashion shows have all moved online. If you’re not serious about digital, I really don’t think you have a future in this industry because it’s already a big trend this tar.
Can you tell us a little more about your new collection?
Pure Love came into being during lockdown, when most countries around the world were isolated and quarantined due to the pandemic. It was like the world was coming to an end, but I realized that clients, friends and family had to go on and on. They had to take care of their homes, their children, their businesses and whatever came to their hands. I wanted to pamper these women and celebrate their hard work with this collection. Every woman must fall in love with her closet again and this collection is a first step.
Where can Ivorian women get your creations?
Ivorian women are close to my heart. I love their bold and relentless style. They know what they want and no one can take them for granted. We are currently partners of the Abidjan Capsule on their various Pop-ups. We had to cancel our next pop-up because of Covid. I had planned to attend. There are few concept stores that have accepted to wear our line exclusively. We hope that by August or September everything should be finalized and that we can announce it. If you can’t wait then slip into our DM or shop on our website,www.opheliacrosslandgh.com
Author: Blè Pockpa