Frank Osodi Richard is a household name in the world of fashion, fashion shows and pageantry in Nigeria and across the shores.
He works behind the scenes to push out state-of-the-art pieces to the admiration of his clientele and all. The Ogwashi-Uku-born Osodi became a sought-after designer after his client, Ibiagbanidokibubo Asenite Darego (Agbani) in far-away Sun city, South Africa won the Miss World beauty pageant and became the first black African to become Miss World. In an interview with Sunday Sun, Osodi told how his mother inspired him into fashion, goodwill, open doors and many more.
How did fashion designing start in your life?
Well, my name is Frank Osodi Richard. I hail from Ogwashi Uku in Delta State. My dad was a businessman and my mum worked with UTC then. I am the second child of six children, who were all raised in Lagos. My parents cared for us and we lacked nothing, and that gave our childhood a beautiful beginning and meaning. While growing up, I recognized my talent for the arts because I drew a lot at my spare time on any available clean surface. I also remember copying comics very well. Again, when my mother noticed my arts prowess, she started bringing home international catalogues and foreign magazines like vogue with which she cut and made her dresses and that of my sisters on Saturdays when she is off duty. She will make the clothes and my immediate younger sister would help trace some lines on the patterns with tailors’ chalks and pin them. While I watched and admired all they did with the clothes and model, I used to be eager to see the final product of what we all laboured for. Then I started imagining drawing the designs, change the colours, sleeves, collars etc. And my mum saw what I was doing and started persuading and suggesting fashion sketches for me. In school, I studied arts and textile designs, but didn’t major in fashion, but visual and general arts. While still in school, I ventured into modelling so I can make extra money for myself and that became my second acquaintance with fashion. I was a top runway model and was opportune to work with a few designers who allowed me to influence their designs and brands. That was also a plus for me and I derived joy doing that. Then, I started making money from sketches from some designers until I got into full-time fashion when Princess Pat Ajudua employed me to work with her when she was preparing for the Chic Afric designer of the year competition which she eventually won.
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Share the experience that blew you up?
Well, after we won the competition, Princess Ajudua proposed that I help run the fashion outfit for one year to enable her finish her law course in Port Harcourt then. That was my very first time of designing and managing a whole fashion empire. When my time there elapsed, I had desired to go back into my arts work, but some clients encouraged me to start my own label. So, I was pressured into starting my own label, which has paid me today, no regrets.
What was the feeling of your parents then and now, because most of those parents wanted doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers etc; not fashion designers and entertainers?
When I started, my mum was not really happy. She wanted me to go into management field. However, as time went by, I won the Silverbird intercontinental designer of the year and never looked back after that. My family is part of my success story and knew, fashion shows and entertainment are my gifts from God.
How did you rise to stardom?
I worked with the Silverbird Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) pageant for a long time and while costuming and handling makeup for the contestants, it gave me opportunity to start dressing beauty queens and Lagos socialites which also gave me prominence. During the course of the MBGN, I stumbled unto Agbani Darego, one of their contestants whom I was so sure could represent Nigeria internationally. Luckily, she won the pageant, and the pageant manager then, Mrs Joan Ibuzo, introduced her to me to groom, dress and prepare her for the miss universe and miss world pageant. She did exceptionally well at the universe and then she won the Miss World as the very first black African to win the Miss World title. Agbani Darego Miss World pageant winning brought me many more blessings that I never expected. While I was praying for her to win the crown, God was opening doors of blessings and international recognition for me.
The making of Agbani Darego’s dress?
The dress I made for her became historical. I chose green colour which represents her country’s colour and the green vegetation, which was obviously how I saw her. I saw in Agbani a new, fresh and innocent girl who could be an ambassador in her country. And she actually looked like a baby Peacock in her outfit with unique features that were uniquely unbelievable.
What are the new areas for you now?
Overtime I opened my artist and model management agency, Bunor Models Management, and represented models locally and internationally. I also joined the only recognized body for regulating the modelling industry in Nigeria known as Professional Model Managers Association of Nigeria (PROMMAN) which I am the incumbent president. Again, I am into events and has successfully produced my popular Black, Bold and Jazzy fashion show, which was subsequently sponsored by the British American Tobacco company and V-mobile. We collaborated with Verdantzeal in 2013 to successfully execute the historical world class fashion event known as the Port Harcourt International Fashion Week 2013 and 2014. Then launching a new fashion event (West Africa Fashion Week) which is designed to create that international platform for African designers, established and new labels for international media exposure.
What other plans do you have for your brands?
Next year, I will be debuting in the pageant world, a new organization where ladies who have the hearts of gold and the desire to serve humanity will be giving all the encouragement and support, they need to make differences in their immediate communities, countries and the world at large. Knowing that the country is going through serious economic and global leadership issues; I thank God that I am alive and well. We are hoping that things will turn around for the better in no time knowing that after COVID, business was a bit slow, but it›s gradually picking up now.
In the midst of your busy schedule, do you find time to relax?
I really do not have any favourite relaxation spot; it is hard for me these days to relax because there is so much work to do. But before the tight schedule, I used to enjoy Capetown, South Africa, for my holidays. But then, in Lagos, a good friend of mine has been taking us out to dine in every new restaurant! Otherwise, any spare time is for resting and staying out of Lagos drama.