Called the best thing on instagram by Refinery 29, body positive activist, model and nascent documentary maker Naomi Shimada is a warm ray of sunshine in our cynical times.
Rarely seen without a brightly coloured outfit, a huge smile, and a great pair of kicks, half Japanese, raised-in-Spain Naomi is one of a kind and I adore her.
Hilary Taymour is a friend and she’s the designer behind Collina Strada. Hilary started her casting process by deliberately selecting models from countries on Trump’s ‘travel ban’ list. However that proved harder than it from there we started selecting a wide range of models with different ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, ideologies that are fearful of the consequences during this presidential term. “We wanted to cast humans who are fearful of what is next: homosexual models; pro-choice models; a model in need of healthcare long-term illness.” Her casting made me feel so many things. Politics and fashion can be an uncomfortable and inappropriate mix, but for me, this show presented clothes via politics from a real-life sense, and more like social commentary.
Ashish is alway hands down my favourite London show. Political fashion shows are obviously trending right now but Ashish’s shows have always been political, with so much heart and soul radiating through in all that glitters. His show has an authenticity that reigns over all the others.
His t-shirts were emblazoned with the slogans ‘You are much lovelier than you think’, ‘Fall in love and be more tender’ – all good reminders of what we need to be saying to each other, doing, loving, caring hugging etc! Now that other designers like Dior and Prabal are trying to jump on this bandwagon Ashish reminds them how it’s done. That this isn’t a fad – it’s a lifestyle!!! That it’s cool to care, it always has been and always will be.
Their collaboration with the US Baseball league challenged the hyper male world with rainbows and sequins! Ashish’s show castings have always been the most inclusive and diverse – this time starred some of my favourite angels Wilson Oryema and and Leomie Andersen. The models wore Mexican Lucha ‘fighter make-up’ by Issamaya French with each model wearing their own gorgeous individual designs!
Hurrah for Comme! It’s just so funny and I don’t even know if it means to be! The so-called ‘ready to wear’ Comme Des Garcons collection is never dull and this season Rei really turned it on. Instead of following
Hurrah for Comme! It’s just so funny and I don’t even know if it means to be! The so-called ‘ready to wear’ Comme Des Garcons collection is never dull and this season Rei really turned it on. Instead of following fashion’s fascination with everything skinny, Rei Kawakubo does what Rei
Hurrah for Comme! It’s just so funny and I don’t even know if it means to be! The so-called ‘ready to wear’ Comme Des Garcons collection is never dull and this season Rei really turned it on. Instead of following fashion’s fascination with everything skinny, Rei Kawakubo does what Rei wants and created what she calls the ‘future silhouette’, padded, in your face, bulbous spherical Picasso-esque curves all coming at you, impossible to ignore! These outfits are a total reflection of what we need in these tumultuous times: a protective suit to hide in with trainers to run as fast as you can when need be! Your very own impenetrable fort! Obsessed with the Nike fly-knit collaboration, a white sneaker with a little bow – perfect for a girl like me who loves a glam but comfy look and avoids heels like the plague! NEED these looks to roll down the Kingsland Road and make people smile again!
I almost didn’t want to pick Gucci cause it’s the obvious choice but Alessandro Michele is an absolute genius. This show was so jam-packed with every kind of fun outfit on the planet my eyes were popping out of my head! I’m completely over stimulated! Candy for the eyes!
by Oyin Akande
So it’s hard to imagine a world-class model being told that she’s anything but gorgeous, right? While we are increasingly aware how many mainstream industries push rigid and unattainable ideas of beauty, we have a tendency to overlook that these constructs are even more ruthlessly observed for models than they are for us, the majority of ‘real women’.
French model Anaïs Mali has featured in many editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and many other international titles; she has walked down the runways for Michael Kors, Balenciaga, Jason Wu and more. It would seem to most that her success in the industry, at the very least, is a confirmation of her widely accepted perfection. Yet, after landing the cover of French magazine Lui, an adult entertainment title created by Daniel Filipacchi, Jacques Lanzmann and Frank Ténot, Mali posted this on Instagram:
“I always wanted to be a LUI cover girl!! I was told by my ex model agency 2 years ago, that I wasn’t sexy enough for The Magazine. So I wanted to thank first of all @nextmodelsparis for making this happen and a huge thanks to LUI for giving me the opportunity to show y’all what I could do (I’m a pretty shy girl and don’t often pose nude) so this is HUGE for me ! I’ve been criticized by the industry for Yeaaaaaaars because of the way I looked (too skinny , too sexy , not sexy enough, too petite .. blabla). I’m so at ease now that I realized that sexy begins by loving yourself and not caring what others think (EVER). Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you re not good enough for this or that ! If you think that you are .. well you are . If the other are too blind to see it, their loss … And this .. is me”
Anais is not your ‘typical’ pin up in that she is incredibly slender, but Lui magazine has a more ‘high fashion’ slant, using photographers who usually shoot for magazines such as W Magazine rather than Playboy.
Born to a mother from Chad and a Polish father, Anaïs belongs to a generation of gorgeous melaninated models working the fashion and beauty industries. But she’s been fighting the rigid ideals of her industry for a long time. She left France for New York when she was 18 as she found it difficult to get jobs. She was told ‘This is Paris; black girls don’t work here’ and in 2013 spoke out about the persistent lack of diversity on the runway particularly in Milan.
No matter who you are, what you do or what you look like, society’s mechanism can attack your confidence by telling you there is something you lack. Your “imperfections” or simply just qualities you do not possess (because we cannot be all things all at once, right?) become the standard against which you measure your worth. And the female body and identity are historically the choice ‘victims’ of these paradoxical pressures.
The model recently launched, Anaïs a collection of bodysuits created by model v Mali and designer Urivaldo Lopes in 2016. Inspired by the audaciousness of studio 54 and the supermodel era, Anaïs reinvents a 1980’s wardrobe staple for the modern woman with a “Made in Italy” philosophy, creating and armor that empowers its wearer through an urban perspective and irrefutably bold aesthetic.
By Rose Miyonga
With the prominence of smart, beautiful women of colour in the pubic eye wearing head wraps, it might seem like head wraps are having a renaissance. But i would argue that they never went away. Phenomenal women like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lupita Nyong’o and Zadie Smith deserve credit for wearing their head wraps with such style and grace, and their power is only enhanced by the fact that the history of the garment makes them part of a long tradition of women of African origin defying the conventions of Western beauty standards and standing tall and powerful at the intersection between tradition and avant-garde.
Head wraps are worn by women and men all over the world for various cultural, social and religious reasons, and the history of the head wrap in Africa is diverse.
The African American head wrap has a distinct story. At one time it was mandatory for slaves to cover their hair and, as photographer Juliana Kasumu discovered while working in her photo-series, Moussour to Tignon: The Evolution of the Head-Tie, head wraps were made compulsory for Black women, freed and enslaved in 1786 by Esteban Rodríguez Miró. The governor of Louisiana and Florida decreed that black women, both freed and enslaved, had to wear a head wrap as a means of racial classification.
But like all policies intended to strip Black women of the natural power of their Afro hair throughout history have, it failed.
Kasumu notes: “They looked even more beautiful, and more appealing, and they used to decorate these head wraps with jewels, and plumes. They became more attractive if anything. It just backfired.”
For me, the head wrap is like a crown that gives height, power and presence. It connects me to a long legacy of Black women who refused to crush their beauty to make other people feel more comfortable. Sometimes it’s functional, like when I rub homemade leave-in conditioner into my hair and wrap it to let it soak in, but more often it’s because of how it makes me feel. It makes me stand tall, think hard and feel proud.
“Like all hairstyles for black women, headwraps mean a myriad of things to me. From protective style, to channelling Royal African Realness, emulating Erykah Badu, or even just feeling too lazy to do something with my hair, I find that it’s a look that gets to adapt and change with my mood and style.
My Aunty Chipili was always in headwraps; different materials, different prints and always tied in new ways. I guess symbolically for me it was and still is her crown. A sense of pride exudes from black women who wear headwraps and they also emit a regal energy – I mean look at Nefertiti.
Style inspo firstly comes from every single Igbo and Yoruba aunty heading off to a wedding or Sunday service in the most deluxe gele’s, their looks and fabrics are consistently immaculate. Also, I remember, as a kid my mum having a cassette of Miriam Makeba lying around and being enamoured by Miriam’s noble headwrap and dangly earrings on the cover art. Solange always has fun with it her looks and headwraps and Erykah Badu’s layering techniques are killer. I really love how Nina Simone’s wraps matched the fabrics of her designer suits and bespoke chic clothes. She’s a lasting symbol of opulence and unapologetic blackness.
Last, but not least, Aunty Chipili, who like Nina, always wore whatever she wanted and paired it with an elegantly-tied headwrap.”
“The creative process for styling any of Lupita’s looks is always a joint effort between myself, Lupita and her stylist. Like me, Lupita is always filled with ideas. Her hair is so versatile and we both get excited talking about our visions and possibilities for it. There must be a balance though, of fabulous hair that works with the overall styling; complementing what she is wearing, not distracting from it.
For the Queen of Katwe promotional tour, premieres and so on, Lupita knew that she wanted to wear a head wrap. We started thinking about this about a year in advance and researched sources from all over the world. Our main influence which helped to inform our vision of what we wanted to achieve, was African tribes.
Her stylist and I spent quite a long time in various markets and fabric stores in Kenya, sourcing materials. We took these to the design houses that Lupita was working with, who then either used the same fabric for fashioning her dress or used it to inspire their own choice of fabric.
Lupita had to explain to her fashion houses that we wouldn’t know exactly how her head wraps would look, until the day. On the day of styling any head wrap, I always think that the most important thing is to approach it with a flexible mindset and be prepared to go with the flow. Because each piece of material will bend, shape and fold in its own way. Create with the material.
Styling a head wrap in a modern way, for me, boils down to these three things: creating height, a striking silhouette and choosing the best fabric to either match or complement your outfit.
Femininity, elegance and confidence. You can’t help but walk with your head held high when wearing a wrap. And it’s been shown that if you walk tall with a positive posture, you feel more confident. Which I think can only be a good thing.
Of course, I am also highly aware that head wraps can have cultural and religious meaning; which I am always very respectful of. I keep this in mind when working with my clients, choosing colours appropriate to events that they are attending, for instance.
Head wraps are worn by people all over the world; in many ways and for lots of different reasons; functional, fashionable, cultural or religious. Those of African origin tend to vary in style depending on where they are created.
The Nigerian head wrap is called a gele and has inspired some of my creations for Lupita. Geles are usually quite big and bold with lots of height. I wanted to make sure that I did this head wrap justice with a blend of keeping its integrity but making it more modern. I was pleased that this was recognised and embraced by a lot of people who are familiar with geles; and received some very positive comments about it.”
“Head wraps are a part of who I am, part of my identity as an African women. I’m African first- you see me that’s what you notice first. Head wraps also represent my fierce lioness side. I feel extremely powerful when wearing my head wrap, as a child most women who I admired, including my mother, wore heard wraps.
I don’t wear it for political reasons or solidarity with others, all my life I fought for being my true authentic self and wearing a heard wrap is me at my core, however the head wraps has being a symbol to exhibit my African roots when speaking at a global stage, a symbol of pride.
I love bold colours, such as red , green and egg yolk, I would wear it with my western clothing, love pairing heard warps with my fitted suits, you will find my head wrap colour will match my statement accessory wether it’s a necklace, rig or hand bag.
My biggest style inspiration has always being my mother, as a child I couldn’t wait to grow up so I can dress like her, she always had her own sense of style till today my mother designs a lot of my dresses, we have similar taste, we like simple and unique looks, I guess the head wrap gives me that opportunity to experiment with colours and print.”
By Rose Miyonga
If you’re a regular here, you’ll know how much we both love t-shirts, and the powerful use of the slogan! Rose Miyonga chatted with Congolese fashion designer Tina Lobondi to talk about the story behind her Esimbi T Shirts.
We organised the launch of ESIMBI in October 2015 at the venue Mallett in London Mayfair. I wanted to present the apprenticeship program but also introduce our partnership with local charities and schools to create awareness on the current educational situation in Congo.
The event, which had a theme of Celebrating the future generation of Congo, was a great success with over 150 people in attendance, celebrities, high-net worth individuals and corporate businesses. Live DJ, Fashion show, Canapes, drinks and gifts from our sponsors were the delights of the evening.
ESIMBI is an initiative to promote the arts, fashion and culture of Congolese origin as well as promote education, apprenticeships and work for individuals of Congolese descent in both the UK and Congo, Kinshasa.
I am inspired by a few people and historical figures such as Kimpa Vita and Patrice Lumumba, the youth and being surrounded by strong women with incredible stories. They motivate me to do better in anything I undertake by creating opportunities for the youth.
ESIMBI means “it works” in Lingala, a language spoken in Congo.
I chose this name because I believe that this program has to work. It will benefit the whole nation to improve our education system.
Fashion and arts have always been my way of communicating my creativity. I used to write short stories, draw garments and take part in a lot of activities such as dancing. I grew up in a village where there was not much to do so I had to keep myself busy and learning new things was essential to me.
ESIMBI will be hosting in partnership with the university ISAM and Congo Fashion Institute, a conference about the different roles in the fashion industry on 17th October to an audience of over 200 students and individuals who have signed up for attendance.
We will then host our first Arts and Cultural day aimed to benefit, street children, orphans, local schools and young adults. We want to bring them together and provide a safe place where they can be free to be children. We will have an art competition, also taking place in Kinshasa led by Congolese artist Eddy Kamuanga and a panel of other mentors and judges to choose 5 winners amongst the children.
We are fundraising at present to make sure we can purchase all the supplies in order to make this event successful.
Our annual fundraising event will take place on 24th November in London, UK.
In 10 years, I hope ESIMBI would have made an impact in the education system in Kinshasa. And our apprenticeship program will be a major force in creating new entrepreneurs and employment within the country. We would have empower the youth to believe in themselves and work hard to make things happen.
We will be running our programs and workshops in an office in Kinshasa and Education would finally be free of charge for young children and their families. This will create a stronger community.
The vision the rest of the world have for Congo would have changed to something positive.
It is important for us to spread the word and I am forever grateful to ThandieKay for the opportunity to do so with their readers.
You can be involved by purchasing the ESIMBI Tshirts. All profits will be used to assist with the school fees of children attending our partner schools, such as Malaika school for girls in Kalebuka and ONG Naomi, who brings education to children who are hospitalised.
Donations and your support are very important to our projects because we want all our workshops and activities to be complimentary to the children and their family.
The first Tshirt is on sale here.
Follow ESIMBI on Twitter
For the last 20 years, multi-talented Agnes Baddoo has been a Los Angeles-based stylist working for Italian and US Vogue, Vanity Fair, commercials and film. She’s also the author of five travel guides, creator of numerology inspired sprays known as Everyw’air and designer of some highly covetetable leather totes. She lives between her hometown in NYC and at her home base in Los Angeles, where she designs her collections of leather goods.
I first noticed Agnes’ beautiful pieces on the Edible Gardens website – where Agnes and Lauri Kranz collaborated to create the perfect ‘everything’ shopper. Both Agnes and Lauri’s signature of using ethically produced, sustainable materials is a match made in heaven.
“Last year, when I visited Thandie in LA, I was invited to a lunch by my friend Kendall Conrad. It was there that I met the lovely Agnes Baddoo, “maker of things she needs, wants and likes”. She was wearing the most simple, yet perfect little shouder bag that I totally had my eye on.
Cut to last week, Thandie emailed me to say “met this great bag designer at the Echo Park Craft Fair, let’s post on her”. Clearly, Agnes was destined to be on ThandieKay! ”
Growing up, Sunday evenings were for home spa pampering and prep for the week. It involved hair prep (my mother would wash/iron/set – mine was short as a child so often braided), face masks, long baths with oils, followed by lotions, cremes and this Japanese nail buffing system called P-Shine.
My Mother was of an era where people (men/women/children) dressed for all situations: work clothes, school clothes, play clothes, clothes they wore on the weekend, clothes they changed into when they came home, night gowns/robes/pyjamas for sleeping etc). She was always immaculate, or at least thoughtful, in all those situations.
Meeting the day always began with the beauty routine. Everything smelled soft and nice. I have many sense memories of the products she used from drugstore to high-end department store as long as it worked and smelled nice – Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Yardley’s English Lavender Brilliantine, Nivea, Jergen’s, Pond’s, Jean Naté, Clinique, Elizabeth Arden or Chanel No. 5/No.19/No.22/Christelle, Diorissimo or Eau de Givenchy -these are a few staples I always remember, a whiff of which would take me back to being sink-height.
She took a bath, rarely a shower, then a soft smelling body lotion, face cream/moisturizer. Then on to make-up, light foundation, blush, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick – more polished for work, more natural for weekends but always something – eyes, cheeks, lipstick at minimum. Always. And nails too. She was fairer than I and preferred coral tones for lips and nails. Then before bed, the cold creme removal ritual, bath, lotion etc.
I’m happy, well rested, have done some form of exercise – some combination thereof that starts from within. Having said that, newly showered in a favorite outfit, a dab of a favorite fragrance and a pinch of makeup works too!
Is neither a neither a chore or a delight – I don’t mind it. For me it’s quick and painless: eyeliner or mascara, light cheek, light lip unless for an occasion then I pick either eye or lip to feature with something bolder. Products I use in rotation: W3llPeople, Universalist Color Stick and Mascara, Jillian Dempsey, Rick Brown Kohl Liner, RMS mascara and lip shine, Rodin lip gloss, Earth Tu Face skin stick. I’ve been using this since they started the brand in 2010 and it is always on top, within easy reach, in any bag I carry. Such an essential, like breathing.
My father is a reserved man of few flowery words of affection, but I do remember him often referring to his “beautiful wife”.
In my work, I am inspired by nature, form and function. The inspiration for my line started with an old natural leather tote bag belonging to my mother that I’d been modifying over the years. I had changed the shape, moved the straps – different details, to suit my taste and how I intended to use it. When it became unrepairable and too frail for wear the tote became a catchall for files, bills, magazines, next to my desk.
One day while (procrastinating) doing my taxes I just looked at it and decided I needed that particular form and function in my life. So I set off to create a version of that tote which became Sac 1.
Working with local leather-crafters I made several samples, brought them to the Echo Park Craft Fair, where I sold out within the first 2 hours -and there my leather goods line was born. Prior to launching the bags, I was only making/selling an aromatherapy line of Everyw’air Sprays at the fair, now I do both.
Then I created a larger version, Sac 2, which is a more unisex, weekender sized tote. I launched a website and with some fortuitous features in Tomboy Style and PriscillaWoolworth.com to name a few, the leather goods business really took off.
Over the following months and years I’ve added different materials, fabrications and other styles as different needs and functions presented themselves. Now, in addition to the original Sac 1 and Sac 2 totes there is a small Cross body for hands-free bag experience, light-weight canvas carry-all market bags and key cases.
They are all simple in design, with form and function foremost in my mind when creating them.
Our pores are like millions of tiny mouths; I would like to see less chemical, harmful additives in all beauty products we put on our body. I would like to see stores like CAP beauty, that only carry non-toxic head to toe beauty products, become the norm not the exception so all the non-toxic products that already exist and those to come can be more widely available at all price points.
I am very sentimental and have maintained friendships from various stages in my life, even from my earliest play group memories. I recently got together for dinner with a small group a gals from high school, some of whom I hadn’t seen since we graduated. Although through the wonder of Facebook we have been in touch, walking into that restaurant and seeing them around the table I burst into tears of joy and nostalgia. I was wearing my new W3llPeople mascara -it did NOT run, but it was that sort of situation, recently.
Lotions, creams and fragrance are fantastic because aromatherapy does affect the way we feel for the better. Edible Gardens x Le Feu de L’eau African Basil candle – it’s my favorite scented candle. I burn this candle sparingly (because it’s so precious to me I want to make it last) but regularly, leave the jar open so it can scent up the room when it’s not burning and travel with it so that grounding sweet basil aroma gets in my clothes and is with me at every new location. Wholesome, delicious nutritious food and drink shared among friends and family is a beauty gift, but the power of a kind word or compliment that makes someone beam from the inside out – that’s a true beauty gift!