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Interview with Modupe Omonze, Founder of Runway Dubai

By Rosine Sioufi

Welcome Modupe to CFD-Dubai! It’s a pleasure to sit one on one so soon after your last Runway Dubai show.

Runway Dubai has become the leading platform where upcoming talents in the region go to showcase their creations. Your platform has gained international recognition with celebrities, big companies, and athletes; including Tennis star Venus Williams. Could you tell us a bit about her endorsement #keepfitstayconfident?

We are proud of the direction that Runway Dubai has taken in the last couple years, it started as a home-grown initiative, and has blossomed into a dream beyond dreams. Inclusion was not the buzz word at the time we started, and on that note, we approached Tennis super star Venus Williams after reading about her fashion line, and the reason her brand is called ELEVEN. She is an amazing, and truly inspiring woman. It was no surprise that she campaigned with us by spreading the word around fitness and confidence.  

Modupe, you are from Nigeria, Africa and have travelled and lived in some very interesting locations rich in culture, like Trinidad and Tobago as well as Colombia, Azerbaijan, before moving to Dubai. How have these places contributed to your style today?

I feel blessed to have come from one of the richest cultures in the world, and lived in all these other places that have preserved their cultures till date. 

They say traveling enlightens you, however, I also believe that burying yourself in other people’s cultures liberates you. As a designer, my creative ideas never run dry because my style is equipped with cultural inspiration through all these places I have in the past called home.

You are also a fashion designer. What are some challenges you face here and how do you plan to overcome them? Any advice for our upcoming designers here at CFD?

I can’t imagine what creativity would be like without challenges.

Challenges come every day in my industry but what makes it relevant is how I deal with them. In this industry, I have faced challenges from finding the right fabric for my project to finding the right individual to assist me on the project.

My advice for designers at CFD is to keep striving to make that difference as a designer. Let it reflect in your work ethics, your unique style, and your relationship with others.  

You started Runway Dubai in 2013. My favorite moment was back in 2016 when Madeline Stuart opened Runway Dubai. Can you tell us more about her and why she is such an inspirational woman?

When Runway Dubai started in 2013 it was a platform built for everyone. The dream was to expose designers, artists, and creative people. Fashion is a viral platform these days, you cannot contain it. So, we also decided that it will be a great idea to bring to light social issues and responsible initiatives. Madeline’s mom contacted us with Madeline’s story, and it was unbelievable. A young woman with down syndrome traveling the world promoting inclusion and diversity in the industry. This young girl is so passionate about what she does, and has broken the record as the world’s only adult super model with down syndrome. Madeline lights up the Runway when she comes through. She opened the Runway Dubai fashion show in November 2016.

This year you had 2 models with inspiring backgrounds grace your catwalk. One with autism, Natalie Oden; and the other a breast cancer survivor, former Miss Zimbabwe, Makosi. Could you tell us how you reached out to these women?

Runway Dubai quickly gained international recognition with all the initiatives that we had been promoting, this is the reason a designer, Tatiana Shabelnik from our previous show introduced us to Natalie Oden. Natalie is an inspiring model with Autism who had broken boundaries with her passion and dedication. She is also an actress and has starred in numerous music videos till date. Natalie opened the show this year and accepted an award as an inspiring model in the fashion industry which followed with a heartfelt speech from her.

A message of hope is what Former Miss Zimbabwe walked for. As a survivor of breast cancer, the beautiful Makosi lit up the stage with a red radiant ensemble by NHN couture, one of the designers on the show who also dressed and empowered a lot of women with powerful messages of survival and bravery.

What’s next for Runway Dubai?

We are working on an exciting initiative for next year, at the same time keep building a fashion network platform that turns dreams to reality.

Thank you Modupe, and see you at Runway Dubai 2019!