Posts by Lola Bakare:
Since she blew our minds with her televised Byrant Park debut in 2008, “Project Runway’s” Korto Momolu has left us aching for the bright and beautiful West-African inspired designs we fell in love with. Though it’s still winter in New York, Korto brought a little sunshine to the lives of the socialites and Bravo-lebrities who crowded the Union Square Ballroom for the unveiling of her new line.
By incorporating knit, jersey, and tweed notes, Korto has taken a hint from Fela! and found her own African style. While maintaining her signature vibrant color-palette of energizing pinks, purples, yellows, and oranges, a few neutral elements upped the sophistication factor and showed a bit of evolution in Korto’s design aesthetic. Our favorite of these was a recurring knit drape-piece that can be worn as a hood, wrap, or bolero, perfectly in line with the “multiple-use” trend that can be the difference between a sigh and a swipe! for recessionistas everywhere. We also got a peek at her gorgeous statement jewelry and bags that will be sold at Dillard’s stores this month and on her website…
In the fifth season of TV’s “Project Runway,” Korto Momolu showed the world that black women are capable of participating in reality shows without threatening to “beat b***es up.” She let her gorgeous designs do the fighting and came in a close second after what was arguably the most impressive Bryant Park show in “Project Runway” history. Korto’s personality is a reflection of her design aesthetic. Like the clothing she creates, she is a delightful blend of unpretentious elegance, ethereal grace and the sun-kissed sassiness of a proud African woman. AfriPop! recently had the pleasure of catching up with Ms. Momolu via email. We were truly inspired by her thoughts about life after the show, the immigrant experience, the fashion industry and what it takes to make dreams come true.
AfriPopmag: So Korto, what have you been up to since season 5 of “Project Runway” wrapped? You were already an established designer in Little Rock, Arkansas before you were selected for the show. What are things like now?
Korto: Life is very crazy these days. Between sewing for various shows, making jewelry for my online site, public appearances and mommy/wifey duties I am pretty much always on the go.
AfriPopmag: One of the things I loved about you on the show was your authenticity. You never seemed to be putting on an act for the camera. How did you stay so natural on screen?
Korto: I decided that being on a reality show if you start as a character you must stay that person. If you ever decide to become real [later on] people will think you are crazy. I went on the show to be the best designer I could be and win some money to start my label so being fake wasn’t in my schedule. I wanted women, especially mothers and immigrants, people with families and especially African-American women to see a positive image of someone that looks like them and has experienced all that they have as well.
AfriPopmag: Tell us a bit about your experience moving from Liberia to the United States.
Korto: Moving back and forth from Liberia then to the U.S. then back to Liberia then to Canada and now finally back to the U.S. was really challenging and sometimes hard as a child. It was hard for me to make friends so my art and imagination seemed to become my buddies. I am glad that we did move around looking back at it because it opened up my mind to a lot. I miss the naturalness of Liberia; getting fresh fruits, the moisture in the air, my beautiful flawless skin [laughs], and most of all, my family that’s still there.