Nyzinga Onifa: “Sew in Love with Fashion”

UntitledNation News focuses on Bajan designer Nyzinga Onifa, who speaks about her all-encompassing (physical, professional, spiritual) journey from Barbados to Senegal to New York and back to Barbados, and about her recent show called “Fecundity, The Richness of Creative Splendour,” where she showcased her new line, Primal Image. See excerpts here with a link to the full article below:

If you ask fashion designer Nyzinga Onifa where she’s been, she will calmly tell you that she’s been on a journey. It was a physical journal that took her from her native Barbados to Senegal and then to New York. But on many levels it has also been a spiritual journey during which she collected her thoughts, gathered information and got ready to hit the fashion scene again.

“I didn’t stop doing fashion. There’s a period in time where you sharpen skills, where you do other things. I got a scholarship through UNDP to Senegal to study textiles in 1994. I loved it so much that I lived in Senegal for eight years,” Onifa said. “After that I got another scholarship to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where I did my Bachelor’s degree. I also went to Cave Hill where I did a Master’s in international management. So it’s not like I stopped; it’s just a continuation. I find that if you’re not doing a particular thing, if they don’t see you physically doing it, they think you’re not doing it.” She was, in fact, gathering knowledge, momentum, and renewed love for the industry that had made her famous.

Years ago in the late 1980s and early 1990s Nyzinga Onifa was a household name on the Barbadian fashion scene. She had made African clothing fashionable not only in Barbados but throughout the region where her designs gained prominence. Clothing from her boutique and studio “Natural Creations” was sold in St Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, St Martin and Anguilla.

“My love is not only African fashion. You see people narrow it because people see that I do things with African fabrics. One day a white man told me that people talk about you and Africa but you deal with so many different fashions but people just focus on Africa,” she said. “Since living in Senegal, I’ve become so multicultural. I’ve had African influences, some Middle Eastern, some European that have helped influenced my take on fashion.”

During her time in Senegal, Onifa was able to broaden her world view, which was reflected in her concept of design and fashion. The country so inspired her creatively that it shaped the way she worked with textiles and how she infused colour into her creations. It also allowed her to fuse the many different cultures that were present in the African country.

But now Nyzinga is back in Barbados, creating and making her presence felt again. Last weekend at Hilton Barbados she showcased her new line Primal Image in a show called Fecundity, The Richness of Creative Splendour. [. . .]


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