From Designing For Beyoncé To Brides In Lagos, This Fashionista Is On A Mission

Published 1 month ago
Matopeda King; image suppliedz
Matopeda King (image supplied)

Born in the United Kingdom, Nigeria-based Matopeda King, who has been at the forefront of fashion for 14 years, is using her atelier to empower women.

Matopeda Abiola King is currently experiencing “a full circle moment” with her fashion brand. As Creative Director for Matopeda Atelier, an international custom wedding dress design company, King has styled several high-profile celebrities in Nigeria and the United States (U.S.), establishing her brand as one of Nigeria’s notable fashion houses.

She says it is her care and attention to clients that have become her signature.

Advertisement

“I knew by [the age of] 30 or 31 that my calling was to work with women. A lot of the people I meet, our conversation isn’t just about the dresses, what I do is to build women up, I empower women. When a woman wears my dresses, they get the dream job, they feel confident, they feel like they can achieve anything,” says King.

When singer and actor Fantasia Barrino had the honor of paying homage to the late Tina Turner at the recently-concluded 66th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in the U.S., she did so in a customized Matopeda dress. The hand-beaded corseted body suit for her performance was reportedly created in just 48 hours. Beyoncé also sported a Matopeda floral dress while celebrating her fifth wedding anniversary in Hawaii.

Her penchant for “empowering” her clients actually came from overcoming her own personal struggles, including a difficult childhood and a bad relationship. Born in the United Kingdom in 1983, her family had to move to Nigeria where they lived for three years, and then return to London when King was 10 or 11, where they began life as immigrants seeking asylum.

“We couldn’t afford rent so we had to move about 20 times [when I was between] 12 to 27 because we couldn’t find accommodation. We had to go to the council. Always moving houses was consistent. I don’t have pictures from my childhood because we were always moving. We didn’t even have a fridge at some point,” recalls King.

Advertisement

She picked up the essence of style from her mom but her real “eureka moment” happened when a bad relationship left her looking like a shell of her former self.

“I was really slim and I realized I was really sad. I wasn’t aware I hadn’t been eating properly and my eyes had gone in. I remember crying a lot, but I just didn’t realize how bad things were. I said I had to do something else,” says King.

That was when the brand, Frock it, Rock it, was born.

“Before that, I was the one who always styled my friends and the one that everybody called for birthdays, interviews etc. If somebody got a job, they would give me their card to say ‘go shopping for me and build a workwear wardrobe for me’. I knew I was creative with clothes, but I just didn’t know what to do. I thought it was styling at first,” says King.

Advertisement

Over the years, her brand has evolved from making outfits that provide the perfect silhouette for black women to breaking the mould when it comes to wedding gowns.

“Matopeda is fast becoming one of the most important Nigerian fashion brands simply because of the level of attention her creations get. Nigeria has a lot of talented designers but very few can boast the calibre of clientele Matopeda has, and that is testament to how unique her outfits are,” says Amanoshi Dania, a Lagos-based designer.

“I used to turn them (customers) down because wedding dresses were always covered up, no neckline, no shoulders, no beading, no crystals. I didn’t want to do that; I always want my customers to be the best-dressed and that is what we stand for,” adds King.

“So, we started custom-making our fabrics and started [embellishing] our dresses with crystals and beads. We started to show shoulders, [a] lower neckline and crystals, and a lot of clients in America started to pay attention because no one was doing that in America.”

Advertisement

That was the beginning of the rebirth of her brand, which then became Matopeda Atelier.

King is at peace with herself and her calling. Her experience of navigating depression and overcoming emotional trauma, coupled with her strong faith, has birthed an intuitive designer who pays attention to every aspect of the process, including the wellbeing of the women wearing her clothes.