Onalaja is a contemporary women’s-wear brand experimenting with demi-couture elements. The brand presents an imaginative concept blending the designer's Nigerian heritage, Italian design aesthetics, and a contemporary appreciation of beauty through its highly crafted pieces.
Onalaja is inspired by traditional craft technique. Key elements often explored in Onalaja pieces include texture clashes, a play on proportions, colour and textile manipulation. The focus is often on perfect execution, artisanal craft, intricate experimentation, and blending opposing elements to create beautiful wearable pieces. Every piece gets the attention befitting of the discerning wearer, a cosmopolitan woman with an appreciation for intricately made items.
Kanyinsola Onalaja was born in Nigeria but educated in London, where she studied BA Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni. Upon Graduation, she was awarded best student of the year 2014 and best fashion collection of the academic year 2013 – 2014 and as a result given a scholarship to study a master’s degree in womenswear design (which she completed July 2017) The BA collection was shown at Graduate Fashion week and Africa Fashion week in London.
Following that she briefly attended Academia di Costume E Moda, in Rome, where she studied 3D Pattern Cutting. During her BA and master’s studies she worked with brands such as Christopher Kane and Giles Deacon Couture. Subsequently freelancing as a luxury textile and embroidery specialist for some renowned Fashion houses in London and Paris. Growing up in Nigeria she discovered traditional art and became fascinated with the different media used to express it.
Her love for colour and textiles grew, leading her to experiment with different mediums and ways to create works of art that used fashion as a means to showcase it. Her MA collection was also successfully picked up by Moda Operandi and was selected as “Vogue Talents 2017, Ones to Watch”