Natural born dancer turned Creative Director, Paolo Sisiano, founded his ready-to-wear label Sisiano in 2017. Sisiano's passion for gliding, jumping, and spinning in the spotlight has translated into his fashion design career, which has experienced many eye-catching movements.
Nearly all of his life, Sisiano has been a dancer and stage performer. He boldly states that he was "Born for the STAGE". In fact, to this day, Sisiano can be found emotionally performing across the stage, notably adorning his same clothing designs that can be purchased for everyday wear.
During his dance career, Sisiano found his way into costume design. It wasn't until 2013, however, when he was a finalist at the GTBank Lagos Fashion & Design Week Awards that he decided to formally enter the world of high-end fashion. From his entry into the fashion world to his latest fashion line, Sisiano hasn't lost sight of his clothings' need for mobility. Every garment produced possesses a certain fluidity. Whether the flow comes from fabric that billows in the wind or bold patterns that stream across his pieces, every piece forces onlookers to pause as to fully comprehend the influx style.
The Folklore interviewed Sisiano's Creative Director Paolo Sisiano about his design process, sources of inspiration, and his hopes for the future. Shop select styles from Sisiano online now at The Folklore.
From hand burnt petal shirts to hand dyed dansikis, why is it important for you to add a human and personal touch to each one of your pieces?
I generally think that the experience of a garment should carry through its journey. We can't physically touch all our clients, though we are happy they feel our touch. The end goal is to create a bond that is beyond clothes
For your SS20 line, INTO THE DEEP, you draw inspiration from the ocean's relationship with the universe and the experience of "life through the flows of uncertainty". What inspired you to delve into these topics and can you mention the specific details of the line that were inspired by the ocean?
The ocean is a very complex entity! Its ability to be so chaotic and controlling to this subdued, gentle body. It's one place I would forever be in awe. I personally like the ocean ( as it's one of my escapes) from the sea bed, the plants, body of water... I wanted to relate that with our human nature and how we find connections and lose them along the journey called Life.
Considering all of your clothes are handmade, can you discuss the commitment that this entails and who you've hired to help craft the pieces?
We at Sisiano like to commit to details that we get involved with our fingers. I head the design team and come up with the technique that is eventually learnt by the rest of the team for the season. In building this techniques as we like to call them in house, I'm constantly taking a part of myself and that's why I'm forever in Love WITH Sisiano
What is the message that you hope your brand delivers to its wearers?
I hope that Sisiano keeps you comfortable, romantic, confident and a whole lot of emotions. Having movement at the helm of what we do, We hope that each step brings an even wider smile from within.
Why have you chosen to consistently design dansikis and how do you predict dansikis will translate into Western markets?
When I started fashion it was about creating for the women around me. My Signature Dansikis just tell the story of love between myself as a designer and the fabric that learns to dance as we create shapes. Eventually, translation would totally be based on individual perspective and I hope you fall in love with it the way we have.
By diving "into the deep" of the ocean with your SS20 line, have you come across anything surprising or revelatory while designing the line?
Into the deep' as a collection took a lot from me as a designer. From Hand dying the collection, to stripping the fabric into the shapes and having the team sew each piece together! There would always be a choice you make that eventually determines the outcome. We simply made a production from Strips.
How has designing in Africa influenced your perspective on crafting your brand and marketing your clothing?
I design based on who I am as an individual, rooted in my different experiences, relationship with movement through dance. The journey of the brand is completely personal to me. Nothing based on any rule book. I'm building a story simple with what I know.
In your wildest dreams, what do you see Sisiano accomplishing as a brand?
I would like to see garments from my 2nd- 3rd year as a fashion designer being worn 10-15 years from now by Kids of my present consumers.
Dance has been a clear influence on your clothing designs. What else influences your designs and creativity?
I'm constantly inspired by my Mother 'Vivian. She is my number one inspiration. I love water, flowers, the sky, music, fire, anything actually as long as I can feel or see it's movement .... What can I say, I'm a creative that finds beauty all around us while giving my own perspective.
Written by Paige Downie