AgyeFrance is a breakthrough couture and luxury label headed by founder and creative director, Francis Agyapong
Known for his vibrant couture designs and beautiful silhouettes, the designer, known as Mr Francis, has become a rising star of beauty pageant fashion, designing gowns for pageants.
The Ghanaian-born fashion designer went from being one the menswear at Harrods and quintessentially British tailors Dege & Skinner to the go to designer for shows such as Miss Caribbean UK and Miss Guyana UK.
Mr Francis, is hoping to bring his experience, knowledge highlighting not just the importance to strengthen the voice of Caribbean fashion in the Diaspora and back home, but also the new trend that sees collaboration with African designers such as Mai Atafo and Duro Olowu, but how fashion can keep adding to the economy and its impact on job creation and create social change through the usage of branding.
Mr Francis talks to CEM how his fashion will impact the Caribbean Diaspora
What sparked your interest in fashion?
I have always seen my mum dressed in amazing dresses and I guess that this create in me the interest and the desire to create something as great and to have women feeling confident and looking great
You started out in Menswear, does your approach differ when designing menswear compared to womenswear?
Womenswear is more interesting because it provides me to diversify, to challenge myself to create something innovative and unique. Women fashion is more diverse and provides you to explore that type of creativity that will push you further.
You are now designing dresses for both Miss Caribbean UK and Miss Guyana UK, how did that come about?
I was introduced by a client who has always appreciated and loved my designs. She put me in contact with Jacqui and Clayton Brown (the organisers behind Miss Caribbean UK) and the rest –as they say- is history. They both saw the quality of my designs and decided that I would have been a great addition to the pageant
What were some of the challenges you faces designing for beauty queens?
Some of the challenges comprised time and a tight schedule. Different individuals had very different expectations and visions which must embody their personality and confidence
How do you decide which style goes to which of the girls?
I look at the person; I get to know her briefly so to have a glimpse of her personality. Once that is established, I know if I can create something a tad risqué’ for an ultra-confident girl or something more demure for another. Moreover, I also look at their shapes so to understand what will flatter the contestants the most
Where do you go for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from my collaborator, Ms. Angela and from the girls. Their happiness and satisfaction motivate me to do more and create something unique and peculiar that will make them stand out
Are you hoping to branch off into the Caribbean or Caribbean Diaspora to make a name for yourself? Yes, because Caribbean Fashion is on the rise and they understand its business potential. Caribbean women love dressing with vibrant colours, elegance and class, but with full confidence and these are the types of women I want to continue to clothe
How do you accommodate the needs of women all over the world who might have different fashion sensibilities? I love and appreciate the different cultures. Thus, it is vital for me to sit down and converse with them to grasp their vision and the culture they come from so to embody the cultural aspect in
How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
The work has evolved a lot. Firstly, I went from a male-centric fashion focus to a female one. Moreover, I have evolved in the usage and refinement of my techniques to create incredible silhouettes
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
How to listen to client’s demands and cooperate with them to understand their vision from the inception stage to wearing the customised piece
You’re in an incredibly competitive industry. What motivates you to keep going when things are looking tough?
Customer satisfaction and the creative process that allows me to bring innovation and distinctiveness to women that want to be elegant and bold at the same time
Do you see yourself designing for other Caribbean beauty queens outside of the UK?
Yes, absolutely. Because we would like to expand the pageant side and propel the next Caribbean queens to go and win over judges and people alike in a global fashion
What impact do you hope your pieces will have on the Caribbean community in the UK?
I hope they will continue to positively promote the beautiful diversity of this amazing region and showcase the beauty of its culture
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself becoming an established global brand with different types of lines (childrenswear, menswear) Moreover, with the pageant side growing yearly and my last victories with Miss Guyana UK and Miss Caribbean UK (two years in a row), I would like to dress the next Miss World and Miss Universe hailing from the Caribbean