Get to know Foday Dumbuya, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design

He is the founder and creative director of fashion house Labrum London.

Prudence Wade
Friday 19 May 2023 09:49 BST
Foday Dumbuya has won the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Foday Dumbuya has won the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Creative director of fashion house Labrum London, Foday Dumbuya is the latest recipient of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.

The King presented Dumbuya with the award at an event in London, with stars including footballer David Beckham, British Vogue editor Edward Enninful and actor Woody Harrelson in attendance.

Charles offered an “enormous congratulations” to Dumbuya, who moved to London from Sierra Leone when he was 12.

In a tearful speech after receiving his award, Dumbuya said: “Things like this don’t happen to people where I’m from.

“This award is for all young British and Sierra Leone kids who continue to dream – please don’t stop dreaming.”

Here’s what you need to know about Labrum and the prestigious award…

Background to the award

Originally set up in 2018, the late Queen sat front row at Richard Quinn’s London Fashion Week (LFW) show and presented the designer with the inaugural award.

“Nothing but positive things came from it,” Quinn told the PA news agency of receiving the award.

The Richard Quinn label has continued to grow since 2018 – it’s now a highlight of the LFW calendar, and just this week Quinn dressed Euphoria actor Zendaya in a custom-made black gown for a red carpet event in Italy.

Other previous recipients of the award include Bethany Williams, Rosh Mahtani, Priya Ahluwalia and Saul Nash.

Origins of Labrum

Dumbuya established Labrum London in 2014.

The label describes itself as “a modern-day menswear brand telling the untold stories of West Africa to help bridge the gap between western and West African culture”.

According to the brand, the name ‘Labrum’ comes from the Latin term for “having an edge”, which it says it “at the heart of the brand’s mission – to make honest, practical clothing rooted in simplicity, fit and a passion for detail”.

Labrum’s style

Labrum’s brand essence is all about fusing together sharp British tailoring with West African inspirations.

Incredibly well tailored suits are core to Labrum’s offering, in a variety of bold colours and interesting prints.

Elements of streetwear also permeate collections, with the addition of pieces like bucket hats and cargo pants.

“Foday’s designs beautifully bridge the story of his West African heritage with his life in London and the history of British tailoring,” said Caroline Rush CBE, chief executive of the British Fashion Council.

“His works speaks to what is so unique and compelling about the UK as a leader in creative and fashion talent.”

Dumbuya’s designs tend to have powerful messages behind them too. His most recent LFW collection, called ‘From Greener Pastures’, was “inspired by the countless forms of communication used by migrants to stay in touch with loved ones in the motherland”, exploring the “juxtaposition between dream and reality that comes with migration”, according to a post on the brand’s Instagram page.

Style stars including Doctor Who actor Ncuti Gatwa, Luther star Idris Elba and singer Ella Eyre have been seen in Labrum’s characteristically well tailored and statement designs.

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