I caught up with the uber fabulous designer Korto Momolu, during her recent visit to Charlotte. Momolu is on a nationwide tour promoting her new accessories and jewelry collection-Korto Momolu for Dillard's. Although she is mostly known from her appearance on Bravo's Project Runway, Momolu shared a more personal perspective on life after Project Runway, her personal style and upcoming projects.
How was your showing at New York Fashion Week this year?
It was amazing! I haven't been to New York since Project Runway. To come back at such a high note, it was really good for me. To come back as my own designer, without any rules and show people who I really was. It was just good to do it by myself and what I wanted to do…like a big girl. (laughs)
What are your favorite wardrobe essentials?
Definitely a simple black dress, some really great shoes, great accessories and a big handbag-where you can literally get up that day and go to one city and to the next and work that whole outfit.
Who or what inspires you, that contributes to your creative vision?
Definitely where I live or where I am. I'm from Africa so that's always an inspiration in my mind. I live in Arkansas so things that are really natural for me. And for Spring, I'm supposed to be going to South Africa to do South Africa Fashion Week. Most likely my Spring collection will be inspired by that trip, with all the colors and textures. I'm excited.
What piece of advice would you offer to an aspiring designer?
Be true to yourself and know who you are. If you don't know who you are, it's so easy for someone to come in and say "Why don't you do something like this?" and where you are always changing to accommodate other people. Not everybody is going to love you and you just have to accept that, but they can respect you. It's like you know what? She's true to who she is. Like Betsey Johnson, she's true to herself…I love her spirit. It inspires me that she sticks to who she is and she doesn't care what the industry has to say.
What types of pieces are in your line?
My line is very fun, very colorful. I love big, bold things and I believe in just doing things other people don't do. I don't follow trend forecasting, I just go with my heart. If I want to do big, colorful, bold pieces of jewelry that are African-inspired, I do it. Not because it's trendy right now, but because it's what I do… [pieces] for every woman, any woman can wear it. A child that's sixteen can come get one of my rings, and then her mom can come borrow the ring and her grandma might borrow the ring. It goes beyond that generation gap.
Biggest lesson learned since launching your brand at Dillard's?
Just wanting so much, but just being patient. I want so much and I want to do so much. Right now, I have my jewelry line here; definitely I want to have my clothes. I want to do shoes and then perfumes and other things. I know it's going to come, but like, I want it all right now. What God has for me, I just have to know that he has it all set up.
Motto or quote you live by?
I always say chase your dreams, like the devil is chasing you. Go after your dreams like the devil is chasing you because you'll never stop running. You'll never stop going, you'll never stop to take a breathe because he's always going to be on your back. There will always be negative people around you that will try to stop you, but if you just keep going, they will get tired. But you know what? Keep doing it because it gives them something to talk about. They will respect you in the end.
Are you working on any future projects?
Working on Spring 2011 for Fashion Week and going to South Africa [then] taking a break! …Spending time with my family and just seeing what life has to offer. I've been really blessed, so I'm just excited about my future and showing people what number two can get you in life. Numbers don't matter. It's what's in your heart and what you want to do. You believe in God and you believe he has the purpose for you, it can happen!
View a slideshow of images taken at the Charlotte launch event for Korto Momolu for Dillard's, below.