Tag: #Fashion

Is Black Beauty still in the shadows? Iman and Philomena discuss


Yes, we are still talking about this issue, why? Because it’s still an issue! There has been an effort by big brands to make foundations for darker skin tones. In 2014, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme. In 2016 L’Oréal UK launched #YoursTruly campaign, where they expanded their foundation range covering 23 shades.

This is all great, but darker shades are not always accessible on the high street for the everyday woman. British plus-size model, Philomena Kwao caught up with the legendary African Supermodel, Iman to discuss.

Iman face powder has been my staple for years, I love it! Before using it I didn’t wear face powder as I never found a shade I was completely happy with. Even when I had acne, I didn’t wear makeup partly because I didn’t have confidence I’d find my shade but also because I didn’t want to add anything else to my already troubled skin.

Iman cosmetics
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It’s good that big brands are expanding their ranges, but I don’t think we should just give our money to them on a plate. There are other brands which have included products for darker skin tones a part of their core ethos and we should be supporting them too!

L’Oréal was established in 1909, and in 2016 they expanded their range. Hmmm…ok, I guess as the saying goes “better late than never”, can be applied here?

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Christmas: Why not have a bit of everything in a gift set


This year I’ve left my Christmas shopping late, I know it’s cliché but usually I’m organised. I’ve had my office Christmas party so got the secret Santa present out of the way and now I’m onto my friends.

I’m Christmas shopping and battling the UK winter. Trying to keep warm, as well as preventing my hair and skin from drying out!  

I like to give gifts that I would want to receive. So, I’ve decided to go the gift set route this year, it’s the most efficient!

I’ve been using Shea Butter Cottage’s rhassoul clay for over and year now and love it! My friend wants to try it but hasn’t got around to buying it yet. So, I’ll get it for her, along with a few other trinkets (that’s what friends are for!). I know it’s something she wants, so when I found it in a gift set I knew it was meant to be!

Rhassoul clay for natural hair

I usually buy the 1kg bag and mix it to a thick consistency; as you can see I’m running low (but don’t worry, I’ve already ordered my next batch).

I’ve found a gift set on Sapelle.com, catering to all my (and my friends) winter needs.

sapelle-beauty-gift-set-coll

The Luxury African Wellbeing Pamper Gift Set, ticks all the boxes:

The Sapelle satin-lined headwrap – to protect natural hair from drying out during these cold winter days and nights. Wax printed, lined with silver satin.

A (natural) soy scented candle by Soy Lights, comes in 3 different scents – who doesn’t love scented candles?!

sapelle-beauty-gift-set-candle-scarf

Moringa Oil and rhassoul clay (one of my staple products) from Shea Butter Cottage – a great cleanser for hair and skin. The community traded unrefined moringa oil is pressed from moringa tree seeds.

A bit of everything for those winter beauty needs. This gift set along with other African inspired gift sets and be purchased here.

Merry Christmas all!

 

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Easy headwrap styles


One of the most conspicuous symbols in African fashion is the headwrap (known locally by various names across Africa). The UK is no stranger to cold weather, so why not wrap up and keep warm while still looking good?!

In African cultures, headwraps are more than just a fashion statement, having definitive cultural significance.

We can’t deny the rise of headwraps in the African diaspora as a staple fashion accessory.

AFWL water mk

Here are some great headwrap styles I found and will be trying out myself. Which one will you be wearing?! When you decide, remember to wear your crown like a queen!

Comment below…

 

 

 

 

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Yemzi’s sustainable street-luxe style fashion label hits the spotlight


This year fashion took centre stage at the Africa Utopia Festival. Directed by Agnes Cazin, the #AfricaSquad fashion show put the spotlight on amazing designers across the African diaspora and the Continent. We caught up with one of the UK’s fresh new talents, Elizabeth-Yemi Akingbade, founder of Yemzi, a sustainable street-luxe bohemian fashion label.

 

African fashion UK
Photo credit: Alia Thomas

 

…inspired by African and European art, culture and creativity; made with love in London for the active dreamer. Elizabeth-Yemi

We first heard of Yemzi through Africa Utopia 2016, how did you get involved with the festival?

I was invited to take part in the #AfricaSquad fashion show by the creative director Agnes Cazin. My SS16 collection showcased, was based on animal skin prints, in blue, orange and green. I’ve worked with Agnes before; she used some of my pieces for House for Koko.

silk jumpsuit, african fashion
Model wears a Yemzi jumpsuit SS16, at the #AfricaSquad Fashion Show.                             Photo credit: Belinda Lawley

When did you want to be a fashion designer?

From a very young age. I’ve always been creative, I won various art competitions at school and when I was 14, attended Bournemouth Arts Institute on Saturdays.

When did Yemzi officially launch?

I like the idea of being a young business owner, so in 2013 during my final year at London College of Communication, in South London, I decided to open Yemzi.

Why ‘Yemzi’?

My Nigerian name is Yemi; Yemzi was a nickname people called me and was just a natural progression.

How did you start Yemzi?

My only 2 official collections, were SS16 and SS17. Before that I printed my designs on ready-made T-shirts sold in Soboye Boutique, giving me exposure to other markets like Paris. Now I source and cut fabrics myself.

Prints are the foundation of Yemzi…Because I like using timeless prints and textures that can be worn in any season. I create my own prints telling my story through drawing. Many African designers use Dutch wax prints, but I don’t. It’s boring to see the same prints everywhere.

 yemzi-ss17-main8

What fabrics do you use?

Any sustainable materials, like Bamboo and organic cotton. But when I created the high-end gold collection I used silk chiffon and silk satin.

Are you concerned about being pigeon-holed as an ‘African’ fashion designer?

I describe myself as a British-Nigerian designer. I’m not really concerned about categories and labels. If people want to call me a British designer or a Nigerian designer, both are fine with me!

What does sustainable /ethical fashion mean to you and why is it important?

Fast fashion can cause a lot of damage to the environment and for those at the bottom of the fashion food chain. It doesn’t have to be like that. All my collections are made in London, everyone is paid a fair wage and work in a safe environment.

yemzi-ss17-main7

Are sustainable fashion businesses like Yemzi, becoming more common?

Yes, people are becoming conscious about what they consume and are aware of alternatives. If mindsets change and people buy quality clothes they can buy less and have something that lasts longer.

What inspires you?

Life. I like to express my struggles, joys and culture, through my collections.  I was fostered by an English family but still have a connection with my Nigerian culture, so everything I do is a fusion of that. Being fostered made me more determined to stay connected to by Nigerian heritage and part of the reason I studied African studies rather than a fashion course.

yemzi-ss17-collage

After learning some Yoruba I went to Nigeria and met my Grandmother, before she passed away in January this year, and learnt important aspects about Nigerian culture.

This is the mood board for SS17 – I combine my inspirations and then draw my prints, which are digitally printed onto fabric.

 

yemzi-ss17-collage-mood-board
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Your SS17 Collection launched on 19th September tell us about that.

Continuing with the theme of combing my British and Nigerian culture, I used Yoruba symbols / tribal marks and imagery I found though researching, as the main source of inspiration. I went for a darker theme, as my collections reflect how I feel. I was invited to show some of the new collection at a fashion show, on Nigerian Independence Day, but didn’t have an official launch.

yemzi-ss17-main6

I’m based in a converted shipping container and the SS17 collection was shot in a World War II bunker underneath my office. The styling is London inspired but I have some silhouettes which are very much African. I take traditional African shapes and make them commonplace in the London environment.

Fela Kuti’s wives inspired the bold unblended eyelids and dotting make-up framing the eyebrows.

Why was the theme dark?

Working a second job 6 days a week, completing my MA in African Studies and trying to grow Yemzi has been challenging. The fashion industry can look very glamorous but there is an ugly side to it. The collection reflects this contrast between the different faces of fashion and the personal challenges I face.

What’s the Yemzi ethos?

I have a ‘green and clean’ ethos, using fabrics which are not toxic to the environment.

You recently did another shoot for your SS17 collection?

Yes, again outside my shipping container with 2 models. I only use models with natural hair (it’s part of my green and natural ethos). One is white with ginger hair and the other is of mixed African and Asian heritage.

 

yemzi-ss17-2nd-shoot
Photo credit: Alia Thomas

 

I am a huge advocate of natural hair since doing the big chop in July 2010. Textured hair should be embraced.

The most challenging aspect of running your business?

It’s a lot more expensive running a sustainable fashion business, the fabrics I use have an impact on the cost of my collection.

The biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting Yemzi?

Ask for help. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Whether it’s an MUA or photographer, you should be willing to ask for help when you’re on tight budget. The worst anyone can say to you is ‘no’.

The main highlight of running your business?

When people appreciate the clothes!

yemzi-ss17-main

Any exciting developments on the horizon?

My unisex Capsule Collection launching in February, will be my first AW collection. Very excited about that!

Any advice for other aspiring fashion designers?

Make use of what you have when starting out on a tight budget, I’ve connected with people who’ve helped along the way and for shoots used the space outside my office, rather than using studios all the time. You must be financially creative as well as artistically creative.

Want more of Yemzi?! Check out her Instagram and Twitter, along with the #YemziGirl crew.

 

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All photos (unless stated): Lepa Georgievska

MUA: Chantelle Phillips

Hair: Zateesha Barbour

 

 

 

The Richest Continent


We all know the world isn’t a fair place. It’s always puzzled me how certain parts of the world, particularly Africa, a continent which is so rich in resources, is always portrayed as so poor.

Various reasons have been given for this narrative, from slavery, colonisation and corruption. I’m sure all these factors and more play a role in the state of Africa today, including NGOs.

When my mum showed me this TEDx Berlin video it saddened and inspired me at the same time. I realised that you have to understand the root cause of a problem in order to solve it.

Knowledge is power.

Africa is not poor, she never has been – she just hasn’t been able to own her wealth and that needs to change!

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MAXHOSA BY LADUMA Knitwear @ Africa Utopia London


Laduma Ngxokolo has been making international waves for a while, since launching his knitwear brand, MAXHOSA by LADUMA in 2010. His collections have graced runways all over the world, including AFI Mercedes Benz Fashion Week – JoBurg  in August.

 

Inspired by Xhosa beadwork distinctive patterns and colours, I was lucky enough to see his collection first hand at Africa Utopia 2016. As part of the team who created the first official magazine for the annual festival, I was in the photographers’ pit when the #AfricaSquad Fashion Show kicked off! The show’s creative director, Agnes Cazin, created a collaborative, afrobeat, disco vibe as models wore a mixture of designers from Africa and the diaspora, including MAXHOSA Knitwear pieces.

Photo credit: Belinda Lawley

Knitwear isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of an African fashion label, and that’s one of the elements I like about MAXHOSA BY LADUMA; it caught me by surprise. Harnessing creative prowess from traditional Xhosa culture, MAXHOSA has reimaged stylish African knitwear.

knitwear, maxhosa, fashion show, london
MAXHOSA Knitwear on the #AfricaSquad runway. Africa Utopia London 2016
maxhosa, african fashion, knitwear
MAXHOSA’s distinctive patterns, where show stopping at Africa Utopia London.

Photo credit: Belinda Lawley

After winning the 2015 Vogue Italia Scouting for Africa prize, MAXHOSA has been covered Elle Magazine (South Africa) and earlier this year went viral after Beyoncé visited the Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC, and became aware of the brand.

MAXHOSA is making the world take note of African knitwear, not just in clothing (including socks) but furnishings too, with a collection of rugs.

At Lagos Fashion & Design Week a few days ago, the Apropriyeyshin SS17 collection was on full display.

instagram fashion
@maxhosa instrgram @_emeraldd

“With this collection, I aim to express the beauty in culture exchange of the dress codes of western and Xhosa dress-code. All the looks are sketched with an ultimate objective of constructing an innovative utopian African feel, that will outlive the time span of the collection.” – MAXHOSA

I have great memories of Africa Utopia London and glad that Laduma was there. CNN African Voices  caught up with him, giving insight to the man and the brand.

maxhosa-cnn-vid

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Africa Utopia 2016: My Feature!


In its 5th year at the Southbank Centre in London, Africa Utopia festival didn’t disappoint! It’s amazing to have a festival which celebrates the fusion of African culture from the diaspora and the continent. A relationship that has blossomed in recent years, as the sons and daughters of the African diaspora realise they should carry the rich legacy of culture and history with them wherever they go.

Africa Utopia presents talks, workshops, music and performances that celebrate the arts and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-changing continents.” – Southbank Centre

This year was even more special because it was the debut of the first official magazine in association with the festival and I was so excited to be one of the contributors to the magazine, DUAL. I was part of a small talented team from the magazine’s inception to it’s publication, all done in a hectic 24hrs, at the festival finale.

African magazine, southbank centre,
After a crazy and fun 24hrs, Dual Magazine made its debut on Sunday 4th September.

In addition to my feature No’Fro Zone”,  it was amazing to be part of the festival, were I interviewed performers and was backstage soaking up all the energy from the preparation of the fashion show, from excited models, hair, make up artists and cameras!

There were too many highlights to mention, but the #AfricaSquad catwalk show, in which I was in the photographers pit with the rest of the paparazzi had my adrenalin pumping! With pumping Afrobeat infused disco vibes, the centrepiece of the festival went down a storm. With creative director Agnes Cazin’s, theme of collaboration, models hit the runway wearing a mixture of designers from the continent and diaspora.

Southbank centre, Africa Utopia

African fashion, london fashon show
Snaps from the #AfricaSquad fashion show. Credits: Belinda Lawley and Steve Woodhead.

There was so much musical talent on show, including the Chineke! Orchestra, which comprises all black and ethnic minority musicians, featuring BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Festival goers were also treated to the talents of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra.

Check out some of the highlights from the festival here and I would definitely recommend going next year if you’re in London.

For the full extract of my feature, exploring whether natural hair prejudice is shrinking in the workplace, click here!

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