“I love to dress up and believe that most women do. My whole philosophy is about making women feel special when they put on one of my garments. I believe that clothing should enhance and bring to light the beauty that is often concealed. Every piece that I add to a collection is thought about carefully and I always put myself in the position of the customer.” - Bunmi Fagbenro-Byron (formally Olaye)
Bunmi designs reflect exquisite silhouettes and beautiful craftsmanship. Her eclectic colour palette stemming from her African roots and love of art is translated in her brand aesthetic. Her ready to wear designs are known to be fashion forward; bold with print innovation that is sometimes otherworldly, yet the pairing up of sculptural masculine tailoring with extremely feminine silhouettes to enhance the female form is an identifiable aesthetic. The brand is an extension of Bunmi’s personality, experiences in life and love of luxurious fabrics, with a key focus on evening and bridal wear, and a ready to wear line to follow in the near future.
In 2009, whilst in the final year of her degree studies at The University of East London, Bunmi co-founded the “Bunmi Koko” label, where she worked as the Creative Director, designing four critically acclaimed ready to wear collections. During her studies she completed internships with Allison Rodger and Alexander McQueen, whilst keeping a part time job at Louis Vuitton. Bunmi was then discovered by former Fashion Director of The Daily Telegraph; Hilary Alexander at her graduate show during Graduate Fashion Week. She was later awarded a special prize for Female Entrepreneurship in 2010 and was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor, as one of the university’s ambassadors for Female Entrepreneurship.
Within the first two years of establishing the brand, the label recorded great success with immediate celebrity interest, from Keisha Buchanan, Girls Aloud's Kimberley Walsh, Agne from hit British reality show, Made In Chelsea and Scottish teen star, Tallia Storm. Bunmi also dressed Mel B of the Spice Girls notably, and also caught the attention of acclaimed industry expert Sarah Bailey, Deputy Editor of Harper’s Bazzar & Tessa Hartmann, founder of the Scottish Fashion Awards. The brand garnered a lot of media interest with features in publications such as The Independent, Vogue.com and Grazia. Notable awards and achievements include the Emerging International Designer Award at the 2010 Africa Fashion Awards in Johannesburg, listed in the Top 100 Britain Most Influential People of African and Caribbean Descent by JP Morgan and Winner of The Young Entrepreneur Award at The Precious Awards in London.
Bunmi also had the privilege of being invited to meet Nelson Mandela at his home in Johannesburg in July of 2010 during the Fifa World Cup where she showcased her collection at AFI Fashion Week. In April 2011, during the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, she was invited by ITN to give expert commentary on the wedding gown worn by the Duchess on the ITV Royal Wedding Coverage. This led to a royal invitation to meet HRH Prince Charles at a private event held at St. James’s Palace to celebrate West African culture in July 2011.
Following her decision to end all ties with her former business partner in December 2011, she took a much-deserved break from the limelight to rediscover her vision and aspirations. In 2013, she started her new self-titled fashion venture, and has been designing bespoke bridal and eveningwear pieces for her growing affluent clientele.