Designer Teni Adeola is obsessed with all things royal. Over the past three years, the 22-year-old Parsons student has combined her love for regality, the Renaissance Era, and her impressive design skills to produce collections featuring stand-out, colorful sheer ensembles laced with delicate ruffles. Although inspired by a very conservative time in European culture, her signature look experiments with edgy contemporary silhouettes and cuts that are now the uniforms for music and fashion's new reigning class –– including SZA, Kali Uchis, Gigi Hadid, Dua Lipa and Lorde.
For Tia's latest fall 2019 collection, she expanded upon her original themes of ethereal elegance, adding a sexier and more tailored feel to pieces that would've been freer in collection's past. A white beaded two-piece pantsuit with large sheer panels lives alongside a mint green satin crop top and body-hugging pants paired with a dramatic feather armband. The contemporary cool-girl essence that made the brand an early viral hit online was distilled into this new collection, which debuted last month during London Fashion Week near the neighborhood Tia grew up in after relocating from Lagos, Nigeria as a child.
This season, Tia focused her vision on disrupting conventional ideas of what type of women are deserving of elegance and delight. She tapped spiritual advisor, wellness editor and modern day Renaissance woman Emilia Ortiz to model her designs against a vintage-inspired interior space straight out of an 18th century castle. Against dark walls smudged black with paint, a sheer orange blouse and fringed maxi skirt looked vibrant paired with Ortiz's braided pigtails and giant "Brooklyn" tattoo stretched across her chest.
PAPER caught up with Tia to talk about the new collection and how to be a 'regal bad bitch':
How did growing up in London influence your design aesthetic?
London was the first time I really saw western fashion. I always joke with my American friends that people from London dress way better than people from America do, because in London everything is fitted and people are really properly dressed. As I started getting older, I spent a lot of time in areas like Brick Lane just walking around. Everyone just looked cool, and I started getting into things like skinny jeans and blazers.
How did London Fashion Week come about?
The British Fashion Council reached out to me to see if I wanted to be part of their showrooms, curated by Jeanie Annan-Lewin. This was very exciting for me because for one, I'd never been in a showroom before, and also every show I'd previously had, I had to plan myself. It was perfect because I knew I didn't want to have to go through the process of planning again — I'm in my final semester of college — but I also knew I wanted to showcase my collection, one way or another.
What exciting things do you see happening in London's fashion scene right now?
There are a lot of interesting things happening on the London fashion scene right now. Alongside myself, in the showroom were brands like Amari Carter, Errortique, Tuza and Katya Zelenstova — all female, all incredible designers. To put it simply, I think women are rapidly taking over, but when I think of creative directors of luxury brands today I struggle to find women in this category.
Can you tell us more about your new collection?
My fall 2019 collection is inspired by a few things. The Renaissance is always my foundation. Every time I go back to the drawing board, I can't help but go back to paintings by women like Sofonisba Anguissola and the way in which garments stood out in her paintings. I took feathers, for example, which were a luxury during the Renaissance only for kings and queens, and modernized them might by making it a one-handed top.
When creating my collections, one of the most important things I consider is how the woman who is going to wear it will feel. On set, Emilia said, "I feel like Princess Jasmine or something," which is the exact reaction I want from women when they first wear the clothing. To feel like royalty. This collection was also a lot sexier. The longer I stay in New York, the more confidently I dress, and most importantly feel, and that comes out in my art.
Emilia is someone who is unapologetically herself and it's refreshing to see. She is a spiritual advisor and a wellness editor who uses her platform to speak directly to people. She's Puerto Rican, from Brooklyn, and her messages are direct and relatable. She's as authentic as they come and that embodies the type of woman I want to dress.
What did Emilia Ortiz add to the shoot and the designs?
To me, there's something very raw and artistic to these images. Going back to the fact that my clothes are inspired by the Renaissance period and the total exclusion of people of color from those paintings, this juxtaposition of Emilia in a lace embroidered suit with Brooklyn tattoo peering from her chest to me is extremely powerful. These images exude 'regal bad bitch.'