What Did You Wear To Maki Oh’s Photography Exhibition?

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On Saturday 13th December, I went to Amaka Osakwe’s debut photography exhibition at Maliki, VI.

Amaka Osakwe (Maki Oh) is one of the few Nigerian-based designers that has gained international credibility and acclaim.  Ever since launching her Maki Oh label in 2010, her pieces have been worn by style icons like Solange Knowles and the First Lady, Michelle Obama herself. Currently, her collections are sold in the New York store, Maryam Nassir Zadeh.

I first learnt about Osakwe a few years back from reading Oroma Elewa’s blog and have had the designer on my radar ever since.

Her art photography exhibition went by the name, This Side Up and her curator, Nkechi Bakare explained that it represented the artists, ‘first foray outside fashion.  Osakwe’s process of manipulating photographs to create densely complex and layered mixed media images explore methods through which the truth about the feminine have been concealed’.

Needless to say, I was very excited to not only see my first photography exhibition in Lagos (I know!!! Where have I been??!) and to see the personal style of the guests.  I wasn’t disappointed on both counts.

Ps Apologies for the not-so-great lighting!

And back to the stylish matter at hand- I love this gentleman’s Flamingo Pink eazy- breezy trousers.  Could it be that Nigerian men are growing more Pastel Friendly?

039069Temi Dollface is quite the Style Maverick over here, she was featured in Style.com’s- Lagos Rising.  To me she brings that LDN eclectic style to The Game.

041??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????These vibrant ladies had just come from a wedding, I love wedding style out here- More is EVERYTHIIIIIING!!

053She is Casual Nigerian Chic personified:

???????????????????????????????Normally I say: at a particular age, your mouth not your clothes should do the talking, but this dude’s T makes me laaaaaugh!

???????????????????????????????I bumped into a delightful blast from the past- Papa O.  Ions ago we both showcased our work at an exhibition in Lagos.  I was happy to learn that he co-founded the wildly popular, A White Space-a ‘Pop Up’, Short Lease Space Hire.

061In the middle is the Lady herself, Amaka Osakwe.  She was so sweet and I was very happy when she told me she was familiar with me and my work!

???????????????????????????????After a few solid blows from the Nigerian fashion industry (all will be dished in the Tell All book, I’m writing in my head!!), I kinda left it for a while.  But now I’m fully recharged and back Bitches!!

076078???????????????????????????????

 

 

 

 

 

Short Afro Hairstyle: Cornrows + Mohawk

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Considering I use to call myself the Madonna of Hairstyles, as I rocked new weaves/braids etc every couple of weeks, having the same TWA hairstyle for the last year and a half hasn’t been easy.  In fact, I’ve been getting majorly restless about it.  But I had to put the health of my hair first, I wanted no stress/tension on my hairline so it would continue to grow, and most of all: I’ve been too scared to let any hairdresser near my hair after 2 decades of dealing with their incompetence.

So what led me to bite the bullet and do this Cornrow Mohawk hairstyle this week?

???????????????????????????????Well, its simple, I went to an event in Lagos on Thursday where I was working with one of my new fashion & lifestyle clients (details to come soon).  The guests were primarily a bevvy of stunning Lagos ladies who looked like they could star in those ratchet Black American Reality TV Shows, you know: Love & Hiphop, Married to Medicine etc.  By this I mean they sported glorious weaves, their make up had DragQeen Precision and they dressed on point. After that event, I was like- Ok, I don’t want to do a complete Beauty 360 whilst I’m in Lagos, but I can step up my Beauty Game by doing a new hairstyle.

017019This time around, I’m a little bit wiser. I may not know what Afro type my hair is coz I’m too lazy to look into it, but I do know now that my hair and scalp are mega soft and super sensitive.  So I told my hairdresser to blow dry my hair on low volume, I reminded her not to pull tight when braiding around my hairline and I will only rock this style for about two weeks before I loosen it.  I hope and pray that when I do, a lot of hair doesn’t fall out!

Anyhoo, paranoia aside, I have to say I love my new look!

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Countdown To Me Attending The Event Of The Naija Season: Music Meets Runway 2014

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About a decade ago, I watched Fashion Rocks- the annual charity event that celebrates the dynamic relationship between music and fashion-and ever since then, I have looked forward to Nigeria/Africa being able to fuse its own leading fashion designers with its top musicians in a show.  That’s why I am very excited to be attending Music Meets Runway 2014 (MMR) as Press (On Tuesday, 23rd December).

Bellanaija.com

Bellanaija.com

What’s MMR?  MMR was founded by Jennifer Olize whose mission was to create a platform to support and promote emerging African talent in the Arts.  She has also stated that her foundation was also a means to, ‘leverage our love for fashion and music to provide opportunities for philanthropic growth’.

MMR

MMR

MMR kick-started with a bang by showcasing the nation’s talented designers like Tsemaye Binitie, Deola Sago and Grey.  As the perfect backdrop to the fashion show, popular musicians including Naeto C, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage performed their chart-topping hits.

Thenet.ng

Thenet.ng

In a bid to empower our emerging top designers, MMR will continue its rigorous search for the one designer who will become: MMR Rising Icons.  The lucky designer will not only get to showcase his/her creations during MMR 2015 but will be entitled to a cash prize, an extensive mentorship program as well as being featured on MMR’s print and digital platforms.

Thenet.ng

Thenet.ng

There is so much I am looking forward to seeing at the MMR show. On the one hand, I can’t wait to indulge in all the pomp & glam; the event is set to be attended by Nigeria’s finest and let’s face it there will be 2 fashion shows that night: one for the models, and the other for the guests. The ladies who attend MMR arrive On Point: Brazilian Weave: Check! Highlighted Cheekbones: Check! Contoured Noses: Check! Baffed (Dressed) to the max: Check!! Check! Cheeeeck!!!   I am even considering hiring a make-up artist for the night, NO Be Small Ting OoooOOO!  For this event you Go Hard or Stay Home!

Bellanaija.com

Bellanaija.com

Bellanaija.com

Bellanaija.com

Thenet.ng

Thenet.ng

Thenet.ng

Thenet.ng

But fun aside, for my consultancy business, I will be doing important research: I want to see how our fashion show production skills have improved, I will be noting the performance of the models and their ability to sell what they are wearing.  Most importantly, I will be assessing each designer’s ability to create a collection that not only appeals in a creative and commercial way, but that has a relevant position in the local and international markets.

Thenet.ng

Thenet.ng

And yes, that’s Alek Wek:

mmr1

Thenet.ng

 

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Thenet.ng

I wish MMR the best of luck in the lead up to the event and I can’t wait to report back about the event to all my Readers!

My 9th Feature In The ‘Independent Fashion Bloggers’ Weekly Roundup

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Keep it Clever

Do you know the difference between a cocktail dress and a gown? Do you know how a man’s suit should fit? How about what you should buy on vacation (as there are SO many things!)… Well, for all the little bits and pieces you need to know this season, we’ve got you covered in this week’s links!

Links à la Mode: December 4th

SPONSOR: Shopbop App Melissa shoes, NarcisoWomen’s Watches, MackageSwell Bottles Men’s JeansClutches, Shapewear, Tretorns, Herschel backpacks & Kate Spade Bags

Want to be featured in Links à la Mode?

1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page: Links à la Mode Code.

#Buy Nigerian

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I’ve had to keep a low profile since I’ve been in Port Harcourt, Nigeria because of safety/security.  Some could say I’ve taken it to extremes but…

Anyhoo, I’m majorly restless at the moment so over the weekend I decided I was going to take my first trip beyond the ‘Golden Gates’.

I wore this kaftan which I had made by a good family friend.  I looooove it!  If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m a Kaftan Junkie.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Due to the nature of my consultancy work, I’m absolutely fascinated by how Nigerians shop.  The segment I’m focused on are the so-called ‘privileged ones’.  After doing some research on where to shop in Port-Harcourt, I headed to a shopping mall called Genesis.  On the whole, I was seriously disappointed about the experience.  Why? All the clothing boutiques stocked pieces from International brands: Claire’s, Primark- there was even a Mango store!  A whole store dedicated to Mango and not one store sold any pieces from Nigerian/African designers- how sad is that?

???????????????????????????????Don’t get me wrong, I walked away with a fab skirt that I’ll be wearing on my birthday- 10TH DECEMBER, Woop WOOP!!  But I didn’t expect to go to a store in Port Harcourt and walk out with a skirt from Top Shop!

Yes, the Nigerian fashion industry is climbing up the ladder: the e-commerce industry is growing, there is LFDW but in my opinion, the retail industry is…well is there a retail industry?  I know cities like Lagos and Abuja have some amazing concept stores but retail fashion-wise, Nigeria is more than Lagos and Abuja: or is it?

Pick up one of the large readership mags in London (for e.g.) and you’ll get a good idea of the range of the stores and designers in the district.  However when I flipped through the October edition of 2 of the most popular fashion mags in Nigeria, their fashion editorials used pieces from Mango on EVERY PAGE.

How can this be when LFDW shows over 25 designers for its fashion week? It’s true that a few of the designers showcased are stocked in top Lagos stores like Temple Muse, Stranger, L’Espace and sell in luxury e-commerce sites (e.g. 5th & Quansah), but that’s only a handful of the designers that show during the event. What about the others that don’t sell in the retail stores or feature in the bulk of the Nigerian fashion mags?  What happens to them  beyond showing their Lookbooks on BellaNaija?  Where does that leave them commercially?

???????????????????????????????I’m going to Lagos soon to work on some fashion projects and I can’t wait, as hopefully that will answer a lot of my questions.

After my shopping mall experience, I had a craving to buy some local products and the driver took me to a street which sells stacks and stacks of craftwork.  Basically, My Heaven!  I only went to one of the stores as I love anticipation and build up!

Here are some of the pictures I took in the store.

???????????????????????????????021?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I got some gifts for friends and of course a little som’n som’n for myself, all in all it was a good day!

Eat Good, Feel Good, Look Good

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In Nigeria, I’ve been making a conscious effort to eat healthier.  When I left Berlin my food habits were shot to shit, and its sad but true: you are what you eat.  Leaving the weight aspects of things, the one thing I noticed was my face had taken a beating; my skin was less smooth and I lost my ‘glow’.

So now I’m in Nigeria, I’m living in Green City baby, i.e. I’m eating a lot of spinach, broccoli, lettuce and slowly but surely, I’m beginning to see the difference on my face.  I still have a looooong way to go and everyday I have to work on my self-discipline.  That’s what it all boils down to at the end of the day.

Last weekend, a friend came to my place and we made brown rice and chicken vegetable stir-fry.  It was beyond scrumptious and super simple to make.  The latter is what’s most important to me, I’m all about ‘The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Healthy Cooking’.

???????????????????????????????For this recipe we used cauliflower, onions, green pepper, carrots, garlic, brown Basmati rice and chicken.

The veggies and chicken went in the Wok which was lined with Olive Oil and for seasoning, we used black and white pepper, salt, soya sauce and sesame seed oil.

??????????????????????????????? I need to take some selfies of myself to show close up shots of my face, but until then:

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3 Tips When Dressing For A Creative & Commercial Job

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Over a month ago, I left Berlin to work in the marketing communications department of a Nigerian company.  Apart from dealing with the usual hullabaloo that arises when moving continents, I was faced with a recurring female-prone problem-  What The Dickens To Wear.

In Berlin, my freelance fashion lifestyle means I can wear pretty much wear what I want; so entering a job and country where Fashion-wise: I had to mind my Ps  and Qs had me a bit on edge.  Especially, as the bulk of my wardrobe is in London, Berlin and Lagos…

I also had the challenge of working out how to play the balancing game when working for a job that was neither wholly corporate nor entirely creative.  One day I am working in a relaxed environment with the graphic designer on images and design, the next I’m acting as an ambassador for the brand at various events where a degree of formality is required.   Hmmm, how to marry the two worlds in a harmonious stylish union?

Fast forward the weeks and I think I have it sussed out, and I wanted to share my tips for the women out there who have had the same predicament.

3 Tips When Dressing For Your Creative & Commercial Job

1) Invest in a ‘stand out’ tailored garment

???????????????????????????????For me, this is a  blazer.  Blazers with interesting details like structured, patterned lapels, statement buttons et al, tend to lack the stuffiness of their older more corporate ‘Suit Jacket Sister’.

Topping my casual outfits with a blazer instantly takes my ensemble down a more chic route, which then allows me to relax my outfit with statement accessories as seen below.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????2) Play The Balancing Game With Accessories

ifb20Statement accessories are my everything but when I am doing this job, I can’t go as balls out with my jewellery as I normally do.  However because my job isn’t strictly an office nine to five, I can wear the odd one or two statement pieces, which I balance out with more ‘low profile’ accessory pieces.  I also ensure that my statement accessories are eye-catching but sophisticated, so I still look professional.

For instance, my vintage snake belt does have that Look At Me factor, but my more subtle nude toned footwear helps to tame my look.

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3) Coordinate Your Colour Scheme With Care

???????????????????????????????The monochromatic effect of black and white has the power to tame otherwise seemingly edgy/racy fabrics like leather and lace, as seen above.

??????????????????????????????? If I do want to wear a print garment with a bold pop of colour, counterbalancing it with a somber hue like black helps to reign the outfit in.

???????????????????????????????And there we have it! Do you have any more tips to add?  Have you discovered more stylish winning formulae for nailing it with your job outfits?  Do tell, I’d love to know!

Short Afro Heroes

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How could I have neglected my Short Afro Heroes?  With not a moment to lose, here are the ladies with short Afro hair, inspiring me to no end.

1. Make It Pop

Blackgirlswithshorthair.tumblr.com

Blackgirlswithshorthair.tumblr.com

2. Dancing On Air

sa2

Blackgirlswithshorthair.tumblr.com

3. Conversation-Starter Neck Candy

Darkskinnedblackbeauty.tumblr.com

Darkskinnedblackbeauty.tumblr.com

4. Vivid Blue

sa45. Sunglasses To Cruise In

Darkberrysistas

Darkberrysistas

6. Eazy Breezy Style

Steelfeatherlaceelephant.com

Steelfeatherlaceelephant.com

It’s hard for me to pick my favourite, though I do have my Wow shot: the image of the girl leaping in the air.  Isn’t it magnificent that she has such an immaculate extension and yet keeps such a calm face?  Her hair style may not be the funkiest and does not scream, ‘Look At Me!!’- but what she can do…her talent… that’s what stays in mind.

Who gets your vote?

 

Why Are There Not More Black African Editors Sitting At The Top Of Leading African Fashion Publications?

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Why are there not more black African editors sitting at the top of leading African fashion publications?

Now that’s a loaded question. Let me make some important clarifications here:

1)When I say sitting at the top, I mean: Editor in Chiefs and Senior Editors.

2) The sector of Africa I am focusing on is Nigeria.

3) In this context, leading African fashion publications refers to magazines whose pages reflect high international fashion (of both African based and internationally based African designers).  I am also referring to magazines that sell internationally and whose content, circulation and printing standards sit comfortably next to high circulation international magazines like Glamour, Elle, iD, Nylon and the like.

So my fellow Nigerians this cuts out magazines like Genevieve, Style Mania, FAB and the like.  That being said, props to them.

4) My opinions are strictly based on what I have seen and experienced in my ten year career working across the African and international fashion editorial scene.  If you have the facts and figures to contradict what I have to say below.  I am more than interested to read them and learn.

5) I am specifically referring to the African/Nigerian fashion editorial sector.

So why do I ask this question?  It’s a question, I’ve wanted to ask for years actually, but what triggered me to put this topic on blast, was my experience when travelling to Port Harcourt using Arik airlines (a leading Nigerian flight brand, that flies internationally). Arik airlines have an ‘award-winning’ inflight magazine called, ‘Wings’.  As well as flight related content, Wings also reports on music, lifestyle, social events and fashion (unsurprisingly, the focus here is African fashion). Fabulous.  On one of my previous trips, I noticed the editor of the fashion section was the same lady who was the Oga Kpata Kpata editor of ARISE.  She’s based in London, she is Caucasian.  I smiled when I saw this, as I could understand Arik’s Content Marketing strategy.

Due to her years heading ARISE’s (arguably, the best independent high fashion magazine to come out of Nigeria/Africa) editorial department, this lady became one of the leading ambassadors of African fashion. Consequently, it gives Arik credibility and relevance if she writes for Arik.  But by my fourth trip and fourth time of picking up four different editions of Wings and seeing this lady’s name attached to the fashion editorial sections, I began to get confused and irritated.  At this point, I must say that: if someone does the research, it may come to pass that this lady has not written all the fashion articles in Wings.  However, like I said, I am basing this article on my experiences and it so happens that with the sporadic Arik flights I have taken: hers is the name I’ve seen.

Are you telling me that Wings cannot source professional and successful black African/Nigerian fashion editors for its predominantly black African/Nigerian customers/readers?  In general, is it not possible to rotate the fashion editors more regularly?  In fact, here is a thought, why can’t Wings open the doors for aspiring Nigerian/African fashion editors and hold a fashion writing competition and the winner gets to write X amount of times for Wings? Wouldn’t that be a great way to support and promote our L-O-C-A-L editorial talent?

By the way, all these questions I extend to Mr Nduka (man behind ARISE) as well regarding his choice of Senior Editor. Oh that and, ‘Hey Mr Nduka, your defunct ARISE still owes me Editorial Fees!!!’

At this point, I would like to make clear that I’m not a ‘hater’ of the lady who writes for Wings.  She writes perfectly well and is clearly an expert within the African fashion field. Kudos.  My issue is not with her but with ‘us’ (Nigerians).  Why?  Well for many reasons, one of them being: the African/Nigerian fashion market-as growing as it may be- is seriously lacking behind the more established fashion capitals of the world.  This means that there are much fewer opportunities for African fashion creatives who want to work in the African fashion market, let alone the Nigerian market. Don’t believe me?  Well, does Nigeria have its own Fashionmonitor.com (a leading digital provider of media, PR, brand contacts, news& events)yet?  Exactly.  So what this means is, as there are much fewer editorial job opportunities for us within the African/Nigerian Fashion market, it does matter A GREAT DEAL: who these few editorial positions go out to.

Maybe I can answer my own question here, I head the Marketing Comms department in a Nigerian-based international school and I was recently told that the lady who supplies the cooked snacks for the children for its ‘Tuck Shop’, is an expat.  Why? Majority of the Nigerian parents (and their children) believe this will make the food tastier/better. In my opinion, for the most part, we (Nigerians) have this colonial mentality that (to put it crudely) ‘White Is Right’, and it goes far beyond the fashion industry and nestles quite comfortable in the education sector too.

I believe, I have said enough for now on this matter.  Now I would like to hear from you on the topic…

Party Dress Codes: Fashionable or Fascist?

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I’m in Nigeria now folks.  Before I travelled to Port-Harcourt to head the Marketing Comms dpt I work for, I had a brief spell in Lagos.  Whilst I was there, my parents informed me about a 60th birthday party of some Bigwig friend of theirs and I was told to come with. I was more than happy to tag along as I love those types of Nigerian parties- all the pomp & grandeur (screaming, ‘LOOK WHAT I GOT!!), food, dancing, the yanga (!!!)…

When I was told the party began at 6pm, as I do with most events, I began to plan my evening outfit in my head, down to the last-minute detail.  In my head I saw myself swaying around in my new Peekaboo Vintage ‘Sunset Pleat’ skirt.  And then through my stylish fog, I was brought crashing down to earth when I heard my dad say,’…and the dress code is white and blue.’

Erm, Ehh-Squeeze me? I am all for fun dress themes, helllloooo, I love clothes, but let me stress here: I love dress codes that work with my style and personal tastes.  In my 20s, I would have freaked out about not having the right white or blue attire for the shindig, but the beautiful thing about age is you realise that, really: life is too short for dress codes.  Yes, you can quote me.

???????????????????????????????Fast forward the night into the actual party where I walked in, head held a little higher than usual, wearing my black and orange ensemble; I entered a white and blue decorated room swarming with men dressed (rather predictably) in white sokoto’s (trousers), male buba’s (tops) and various coloured fila’s (small hats).  The bulk of women wore kaftans and iro (wrappers) & buba’s.  For me, one lady stood out, she bore a charming pixie cut, minimum jewellery, natural makeup and draped herself in an exquisite white chiffon gown with asymmetrical detailing. She was an expat, of course.  Why do I say of course?  After you’ve been to a string of Naija Bigwig parties, you’ll quickly recognise that for ‘us’ here, ‘More Is (Mos Def) More’.

But here is the thing the wife of the host of the party wore a black and silver gown whilst her daughters wore black evening dresses!! Again, I ask- Erm, Ehh-Squeeze me?

Seeing the hosts give such a blatant Fuck You to their own dress code did make me feel a whole lot better, but I couldn’t help but think why they had bothered to set a dress code at all. It also got me thinking about dress codes in general and their origins.

On this site, the author states that, ‘… the massive uniformization of populations began in the early nineteenth century as workers and students were disciplined to meet the demands of capitalism, industrialization, and national state formation.’

Hmmm, interesting…but back to parties, when it comes to dress codes or themes: I much prefer ones that use adjectives (the more inappropriate the better!), borrow from Pop Culture or use particular stylish era’s (PS 20s, 70s and 80s themed parties, give me life.)  I love these kinds of parties because the options are endless and you can really put your personal stamp on things.

But hey, that’s just me.  Now back to you the reader.  What do you think of party dress codes? Do you roll your eyes when you scroll down an invitation that bears the words- ‘Dress Code’ or do your eyes gleam with joy? Do you find them fun or dictatorial? What’s the best party dress code you’ve had so far and what’s been the worst?

Do tell, I’d love to hear your opinions on the topic!

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